It’s the busiest time of year for many of the hotel singers, dinner entertainers and tribute acts on Mallorca: competently replicating Aretha Franklin or Robbie Williams, for example, pays the rent for many musicians living here, and despite the decibel levels row in Calvia, there is still a demand for live music. But what to do, as a member of the audience, or as the performer, if your taste for live music also extends to live, and original music? Especially if you are known for your expert renditions of Diana Ross, but want to be known for your own compositions; how do you change your audience’s perception of you, and indeed get any attention from a record company? Being taken seriously by the music industry seems to involve either being a) drop dead gorgeous, b) at least slightly madder than a box of frogs, or c) have a dad who happens to own a record company. Being prodigiously talented doesn’t always have much to do with it, and being based on Mallorca where it’s definately ‘big fish, small pond’ territory, can also limit you from getting ahead, unless you can make the right connections.
One such prodigiously talented musician is the delightful BiBi. A.K.A Bilonda, for her Motown and soul sets around the island (particularly popular at Mood Beach where she performs in their lunchtime Sunday Best sessions), she is also the composer of several tracks of her own, and subsequently leads a double life: one night she is Bilonda, getting the crowd up and rocking to classic songs, and on another night she is BiBi, performing her own works, with a 4 piece band backing her up. I caught BiBi at the new Harlem Café in Es Molinar (www.harlemcafe.es)last week. The Harlem Café has hit the music scene in Mallorca with a small bang, it’s early days yet to see if the venue can sustain its aims to have live music and entertainment six days of the week – bar prices and audience numbers will surely determine that, along with a varied programme to choose from.
It can be a leap of faith, to go from singing well known classics to your own songs, but performing to an audience of about 100, BiBi seemed to be completely at home with her own sounds of R&B, funk and soul. She cites artists such as Jill Scott and Erykah Badu as favourites of hers. Wearing a Jazz chica uniform of tight black dress and red beret, BiBi entertained her audience with her new tunes, which flowed seamlessly through the evening. A promising start for this brilliant singer. You can find more information at http://www.myspace.com/bilonda Look out for my favourites Growing Old and Whistleblower.
If you remember Billy Bragg from your youth, then where were you on Saturday night? He performed at Bellver Castle to a largely Spanish audience. They say music is an international language, but I did wonder if the majority of the audience really understood him as his spoken English has a heavy Estuary twang, and his music is hardly what you would call melodic. However, it was a treat to watch the boy from Barking, small beer belly beginning to show now that he is in his fifties, rocking out and still as passionate about his beliefs as ever. Bragg was clearly impressed by his surroundings, and made several references throughout the gig to the Castle’s history. In fact, I have to shamefully admit to never having been inside of Bellver before this evening, and at the end of a week of the Perseid meteor shower, it was very pleasant to sit in the ancient castle gazing up at the night sky, occasionally catching one of the glimmering trails of light as Bragg sang about love and politics.
Bragg spoke between songs about his life, and about events which had influenced him, inspiring the audience to begin to shout out requests, in particular for the song She’s got a new spell which was covered by Mallorcan band La Granja back in 1989 and won him his only award for songwriting. Other old favourites such as Levi Stubbs Tears and The Saturday Boy were interspersed with Woody Guthrie songs that Bragg was invited to write music for after Guthrie’s death. It’s impressive to remember (unlike other musicians and comedians from his generation) that this singer songwriter has collaborated not only with many other artists and managed to stay firm to his personal beliefs. Talking about being a young man, when he was working in a very racist culture, he felt that he couldn’t challenge what was being said until he went to a festival called ‘Rock against Racism’ where he realised as a nineteen year old that he wasn’t alone and could speak out. Still speaking out about injustices around the world he electrified the balmy air when he said, ‘I’ve learnt that I can’t change the world; singer songwriters can’t change the world, but their audiences can.’ He will be performing in Madrid and Barcelona in October. http://www.billybragg.co.uk
A stomping four piece band from Brighton with a sound that harks back to Muddy Waters and early Rolling Stones. Early rhythm and blues with a pop sensibility and a country twist.
Thur 20 Aug @ midnight, Shamrock, Paseo Maritimo, Palma
Fri 21 Aug @ 21.00, Sa Taronja Cultural Centre, Andratx
Nit de L’Art
Thursday 17th September – galleries across Palma participate in this annual art event. Expect thousands of culture vultures to hit the streets to participate.
Sat 19th Sept 21.30h, Mood Beach Club, Costa D’en Blanes.
Vicki McLeod presents the Saturday Breakfast Show with Oliver Neilson on Luna Radio 100.3fm http://www.lunaradio.fm If you want to suggest a featured artist for the week please email phoenixmediamallorcaputtheswirlyatsignheregmail.com