Celebrating African Music and other radio highlights

I’ve always sensed there’s a massive difference between the BBC 6 Music audience in the week and at the weekends.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the station to bits but like all other stations, it has its playlist favourites and house style, focussing on a particular strand of cool white music, mainly from the 90s onwards but delving back from time to time as far as the Specials and occasionally the Doors.

There is room for a lot more experimentation and variety at the weekends, and this weekend sees their bravest move yet as they are devoting much of the weekend to African music.

Everywhere you look there are intriguing-sounding programmes, so here’s a few that sound unmissable, plus a couple of other radio highlights this week.

Chris Hawkins (Saturday 7.00 am)

Chris Hawkins has Rokia Traore as a special guest, and also features some great archive tracks and jams, including Tinariwen, who have a new single out :


Gideon Coe – Virtual road trip through Africa (Saturday 3:00 pm)

This is the sort of themed show Gideon Coe does really well, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

” From the Desert blues of the Sahara to the deep funk of Fela Kuti the music of Africa has long moulded our musical cannon. For this 3 hour special Gideon Coe restores African music’s place at the centre of the story, hitting the road with Rita Ray to unearth tracks from the townships of South Africa to the plains of Mali. We hear from Damon Albarn about the musicians who inspired him to work in Africa as well as Fela Kuti’s legendary drummer Tony Allen, Dave Okumu from the Invisible, Nigerian born African Boy as well as great Senegalese crooner Baaba Maal on their favourite tracks from the continent. With their help we trace a path from the biggest African artists to the western music they gave rise to, from funk to folk and back again.”

Gemma Cairney in Mali (Sunday 1.00 pm)

Presenter Gemma Cairney travels to Bamako in Mali to discover more about the music and artists there, and how it has been affected by the music ban which was in place due to the recent troubles in the north of country.

Mali, for so long a musical powerhouse with some of Africa’s finest performers has seen its music scene damaged by the coup, the collapse of the country and the Islamist takeover of the north. Incredibly, music was banned for several months in much of this nation that is so entwined with its musicians.

Gemma meets local musicians including Naba TT and Afel Bocoum who talk about their experiences of the ban and living through this very difficult time.

Sound Of Cinema “Filthy Lucre” – Radio 3 (Saturday 4.00 pm)

Matthew Sweet introduces film scores on the subject of money by Max Steiner, Ernest Gold and others, and profiles the music for the new cinema release from Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

“There’s nothing quite as wonderful as money on the this week’s Sound Of Cinema – except of course when it’s dirty, filthy, stolen and the root of all evil.”

The programme features music from – amongst others – “Rogue Trader”; “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”; “Indecent Proposal”; “Glengarry Glen Ross”; “Trading Places” and “Wall Street”

Matthew’s Classic Score of Week is Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”.

Bet there’s nothing from “The Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle”. I’d die a happy man if I could hear the Sex Pistols on Radio Three.

The First Time with Marianne Faithfull (Thursday 2.00 am)

Series in which figures from the world of music discuss the important musical milestones in their lives. The format is as old as radio itself, but what saves it from being merely a hipper Desert Island Discs is the excellence of Matt Everitt’s interview technique. Engaging and knowledgable, Matt’s got a genuine fan’s love of his subject, but the questions are intelligent and far from fawning.

This episode is one of the best – Marianne Faithfull is a loverly interviewee.

Matt leads Marianne through a warm, engaging look at a career spanning over five decades. She has worked with many great musicians including David Bowie and Dr. John, and, more recently, Blur and PJ Harvey.

Marianne discusses the music she grew up with – including Chuck Berry and The Everly Brothers – and the way it influenced her solo work. She also covers her forays into country music, her love of jazz, and explains why she received a credit on The Rolling Stones’ song Sister Morphine. The singer also talks about her past drug problems and the way that she has now made peace with difficult periods in her life. This is one of her best.

Adrian Longhurst “Let The Good Times Roll” (Angel Radio, 6pm Friday)

Finally a recommendation for an excellent station I discovered completely by accident.

Angel Radio (“Pure Nostalgia”) can be found online and on DAB, and on 101.1 FM in certain areas (Hampshire and the Isle Of Wight among them).

The show I heard was really excellent – “Let The Good Times Roll” presented by Adrian Longhurst, which featured jazz and swing. Particularly nice to hear Louis Prima and Keely Smith on the radio in the Friday rush hour.

Call me idealistic but I swear you’d get rid of road rage overnight if you made this station compulsory. A real find.