Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 Week 15: Riding with Tijoux

ana tijoux
Funky grace in action.
This past weekend, I saw The Budos Band and Ana Tijoux at the Heineken Transatlantic Festival. I wrote full reviews of both over at FDRMX, so click over and read them. I mentioned in the Budos review that a good measure for how good a show is if you end up liking the artist more than you did before. That's happened to me many times, from The Tallest Man on Earth, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Budos and most dramatically, Ana Tijoux. It might be that it's freshest in my mind, but it's been almost a week and I can't stop listening to her now. And I have to wonder if it was just the performance or a combination of that and the brief, but affecting experience of meeting her. Then again, yesterday I watched her appearance on Al Jazeera's The Stream, and it only further deepened the respect I'm feeling towards her.

There are a couple of moments on that episode that stood out. One is when she says that just because a woman is in power doesn't mean that woman is going to address feminist issues. That tells me she's the real deal. Too often people get so hung up on the gender or race or party affiliation of a leader, and blind themselves to the reality of that leader and what they actually stand for and do. But this isn't a political blog, so I'll just leave it at that. The next moment is when she says that artists are full of bullshit like anyone else and it's a constant struggle with balancing the message with the art and the commerce. She's not just smart, she's realistic and down to earth. That's not a common combination in my experience. Combined with her attitude in the 3-4 minutes when I posed for a picture with her and shook her hand, I think this is one of the few times I can safely say, without really "knowing" her that the image she projects is the real deal. I don't know if that's necessarily admirable or a goal for an artist or celebrity of any kind, but she has my respect as an artist and as an individual human being. And this is coming from someone who believes respect is earned not automatically given.

We tend to grow up idolizing artists, often for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes we forget to separate the art from the person, sometimes we just forget there is a person there at all. We can skim over a lot of really horrible behavior if we like the music. So it's refreshing when an artist comes along and you not only don't have to do that, but it appears that your respect is all in the right place. Now, I'm way too old to idolize anyone at this point, and the fact is that's not even what I'm getting at. Nobody should be idolized. And I think Ana is a good example of an artist that wouldn't want you to idolize her in any way. Put it this way, if my daughters considered her a role model, I'd be proud. That's really all there is to it.

This happened.
Anyway, in honor of my new best friend, this week's playlist is a sort of greatest hits. I'm sure fans would find things I left out that should be there, but I like to keep these playlists at around an hour long, tops. Go listen, whether or not you speak Spanish. I put Vengo on my list of top 10 albums last year for a reason. But what you'll find is that her talent can't be pinned down. There's hip hop, jazz, various Latin styles, some Middle Eastern flair, she raps, she sings, and it's all balanced perfectly. It's a vision of how music should be, with no boundaries, and it makes me wonder what might be next for her. It could be anything. Let's call the list Riding with Tijoux. Enjoy. Be sure to share it.

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