Friday Music and Happy Birthday!

Today marks the 1 month anniversary of Upscale Shack. A milestone of sorts, I started this blog on a whim, with very little thought about what I would post, or how often, but it has started to take on a life of its own in only a month’s time. Big thanks to all my followers and loyal readers, this is for you!

No theme this week, just good music. These are some of my favorite songs. Enjoy!

First up is a man who epitomizes the Upscale Shack lifestyle. When he’s not out on the road touring he spends a lot of time surfing and living in a shack on the beach. Plus he just seems like a pretty cool guy. Here’s Ben Harper with “Jah Work”

Jack Johnson is a lot like Ben Harper in that he loves to surf and hang out on the beach and make good music. This has always been one of my favorite songs of his.

I love this song because of its message. It’s about having a place to go home to when the shit hits the fan. As Ed Abbey said, “Home is that place where, when you have to go there, you probably shouldn’t.” Anyway, these guys are called Kongos because that’s their real surname, a band of brothers whose father is a decently well-known South African musician, and the home they are singing about getting back to in this song is Cape Town, which happens to be one of my favorite places on earth. So yeah, I dig this song.

Staying on the African continent, this band is without any question the most talented bunch of dudes in Kenya right now. Their “Makmende” video created Kenya’s first viral video sensation a few years ago, but they also make incredibly good music in addition to great short films and videos and art pieces. They have so many great songs it’s hard to pick just one, but this is one of my favorites. It’s a good song, plus the video was put together by their friends and is a nice tribute to the guys. This is Just a Band with “Probably for Lovers”

Sauti Sol is another extremely talented band of Kenyan dudes. They seem a bit more interested in fame and the celebrity lifestyle than the Just a Band guys, who seem very humble and a little embarrassed by their celebrity status. Regardless, Sauti Sol make some fantastic music, but the strength of this one is the very well done video, although the song itself is okay, too. This is “Coming Home.”

Finally, saving the best for last, as always, I can’t resist tooting my own horn just a little, given that this is a birthday celebration, after all. A few years ago I teamed up with the legendary Samba Mapangala to produce a song that would benefit mountain gorilla conservation. I’m proud of the song and very proud to have worked with and become friends with Samba, who is just an incredible musician and a really great guy. This is “Les Gorilles des Montagnes” (Mountain Gorillas), the video was produced by another friend, Paul Ndiho, a very talented Ugandan journalist who works for Voice of America. Until next Friday, happy listening!

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