World Music

These days, the idea of home is on the mind of the fantastically gifted singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Rokia Traoré. It's been four years since Mali, Traoré's native west African country, began descending into ongoing bedlam.

Eva Salina has Dutch and Jewish roots and hails from a quiet California beach town — but musically, she's traveled a path far afield from her upbringing. The Santa Cruz native says she was headed in quite a different direction when she stumbled into a love for traditional Balkan vocal music.

Most nights, you can walk into a blues club and find a harmonica player blowing their heart out onstage. The wailing, honking sound associated with Western movies and juke joints is what many harp players have emulated for decades. But in the rarefied world of the harmonica, the earth has lately shifted on its axis — primarily because of one man.

Kadellar / Wikimedia Commons

Earlier in 2015, I attended Austin's SXSW Festival, and as always was thrilled to meet so many talented musicians from around the globe. Three stand-out performers really caught my attention this year: two guys and a gal, Dani Carbonell from Uruguay but who lives in Spain, Rocky Dawuni from Ghana, who lives at present in Los Angeles, and Levante, an Italian female who was discovered whilst working as a barista in Italy.