10 songs that deliver again recollections of my travels: Cerys Matthews’ playlist | Journey
Adventure flight by Lemn Sissay and Hidden Orchestra / Cerys Matthews
“Go to Addis!” Three words from the author and poet Lemn Sissay made me book a flight and finally travel to Ethiopia – a land of music, history, food and nature. The trip was too short, although we met Mulatu Astatke, the father of ethio jazz, on his home lawn, visited a coffee plantation and drank the best coffee in the world, saw several hippos and fell in love with marabou storks, big as me and so on full of character like our older generations. We tried tej (honey wine) at the Fendika cultural center in Addis Ababa, watched the young generation play and dance to old songs, and then watched a DJ session by Melaku surrounded by his record collection. Also check out Hailu Mergia and Homesickness by Tsegué Maryam Guèbronwells.
Police and Thieves from Junior Murvin
The funny boys in Port Antonio. Jamaica. Photo: Cedric Angeles / Alamy
This song is indelibly linked to the Notting Hill Carnival and race riot of 1976, but a few bars of it lead me to San San, a quiet stretch of beach near Port Antonio, Jamaica, where the local Mento band Jolly Boys do their version plays. Junior Murvin lived on the same hill, and that tune resonates miles away. It was playing on the decks at Geejam Studio in Port Antonio again when I had a sorrel martini in hand and looked up through the treetops in this area famous for its green giants. I recognized varieties of climbing plants that usually languish and gather dust in home office corners.
Stand up and get dressed at Altan
Mount Errigal and Muckish Mountain, County Donegal. Photo: Design Pics Inc / Alamy
Teac Hiudai Beags Bar in Gweedore, County Donegal: in the middle of winter, full of wind, small children and rest on a bar stool with great Guinness. Our three little ones, who were no older than seven, danced to and with the Murphy family in a meeting, then saw Altan at the local arts center on New Year’s Eve and later heard ghost stories – all in the shadow of a snow-capped Errigal Mountain.
Johnny is the boy for me from Les Paul and Mary Ford
Les Paul at the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in 2007. Photo: Colin Archer / AP
At the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway, Les Paul was as excited and talking about bluesman Pegleg Howell as he was yesterday. On the same trip to New York, we went to the Terra Blues Bar on Bleecker Street. Then Sunday afternoons were spent at Smalls in the West Village and the intimate jazz sessions that Covid simply cannot miss. Check out the club’s fly-on-the-wall camera that broadcasts live sessions.
Yesterday by Yusef Lateef
The now closed Mau Mau in Notting Hill, where a generation of jazz musicians cut their teeth. Photo: Alamy
Yusef’s approach to music reminds me of great local music venues – you don’t always have to travel for great trips. I strolled into Mau Mau on London’s Portobello Road (now unfortunately closed), stayed in my other half and recorded everything that jazz had to offer that evening. It was an experience only the passage of time has shown the true worth of. We have seen a generation of pioneering London jazz players make their claims. Check out a clip or two of Nubya Garcia on YouTube and you will get an idea of the magic they have created.
Up the street from Honeyboy Edwards
Honeyboy Edwards in New Orleans in 2003. Photo by David Redfern
So much can be learned through music. As a kid, I drank the politics and life found in the best pan-world songs. Ending up singing with this Delta blues legend who was a colleague and friend of Robert Johnson’s I’ll never forget. Three chords and so much to say, he was in his nineties when, in the humidity of a Mississippi afternoon, I met him on a porch with guitar in hand and singing with him and sweating and beating the mosquitos away.
El Carretero by Guillermo Portabales
Casa la Trova, Santiago, Cuban cradle of the son. Photo: Roberto Machado Noa / Getty Images
OK, hand on heart, I had had too many mojitos a few days earlier in the El Floridita Bar, where Hemingway had been drinking in Havana, and ended up singing the first verse of the Irish folk ballad Spancil Hill … I couldn’t remember the rest of the words. Then after eight hours of delay, I endured a flight in an old airplane through an electrical storm due to technical difficulties (I’m a nervous flier at best). But then I was allowed to spend time in the cradle of Son Cubano music – Casa de la Trova in Santiago – with its huge cigars, dancing the gymnastics skills (not me) and outstanding acoustics, all played live and without electricity from the world were. leading local players.
Supersonic by Oasis (ideally on accordion)
Lerwick, Shetland – where the road ends, the moorings begin. Photo: Marcin Kadziolka / Alamy
I was standing in the middle of this little industrial village called Lerwick on the Shetland Islands. The paved square ends abruptly and becomes a berth for oil boats from all nations. Exactly there: a berth in the middle of the pedestrian zone! There are tiny stone-fronted shops and huts, a paved center, and then the huge red and white hulks of steel ships that border the square. Add slowly falling mammoth snowflakes and crystal clear air to this scene. Then suddenly a door opened to eject Oasis’ supersonic – played on accordions. It was a kind of snow globe evening that I never wanted to leave.
Castle Rhos y Llan by Llio Rhydderch (from Melangell)
Caernarfon Castle, history and Welsh harps. Photo: Thomas Lukassek / Alamy
Stroll the heights of Caernarfon Castle, dine in local pubs like the 16th century Black Boy Inn, read about the ramparts history, borders and migration … then stop by the leading exponent of the Welsh triple harp , Llio Rhydderch, at home with a collection of harps from the 18th century when Abram Wood and his Roma family settled in Wales, started playing the three-string harp and saved tradition so that the pedal-free harp could become an international instrument of Wales. Llio was a student of “Queen of the Harp” Nansi Richards, who learned from the Wood family. I was in heaven listening to Llio’s versions of local airs by Ynys Mon (Angelsey), and I dreamed of Miles Davis arriving and listening to him and Llio improvising those old tunes.
Petite Fleur by Sidney Bechet
Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris. Photo: Eamonn McCabe / Guardian
My perfect day in Paris started with coffee and a view over the Seine, followed by a browse the bookshelves of Shakespeare and Company and a foray into central Paris to find the perfect spot for a picnic by the river gobble up a new one Book and une demi-bouteille de vin. This melody, recorded by Sidney Bechet and the French jazz clarinetist Claude Luter, fills the Parisian summer haze and serves as a foretaste of a nightly boogie in the Latin Quarter of the jazz club Le Caveau de la Huchette (opened in 1946).
Cery’s Matthews new album We Come From The Sun will be released on Decca on January 15th. Pre-order at cerysmatthews.lnk.to/WCFTSSo