Before there was YouTube and the interwebs, there was 3 Mustafas 3.

Many of you are too young to even understand what it was like way back then, but it was nearly impossible to find music from other places unless you yourself went there. Seriously. If you were into Reggae, you had to know someone who went to Jamaica, it really was like that. I had a Reaggae radio show on KGOU in Norman OK in 1982-3 and I literally relied on spring breakers bringing me back the latest dancehall 12". Hard to imagine these days.

That's what made the Mustafas such a big revelation, being Europeans who could get across to points East and bring stuff back with them, they became a gateway to a whole generation of world music pioneers. The show was campy to the hilt, playing upon the ignorance of cultures behind the Iron Curtain, they always approached the music with genuine respect and affection. In point of fact, they were touring the US before we here even had a "world music" infrastructure, groundbreaking in another respect.

Speaking for myself, I can honestly say that were it not for having seen their show with Brave Combo in Dallas TX back in '89, I assure you no one in the Yiddish music world would have ever heard about me. I'd most likely be in Nashville hustling a Bluegrass career like I had originally planned, having never toured all over Eastern Europe with Boban Markovic or recording with Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars, joining the Other Europeans Project, etc...

There seems to be an explosion of of interest in Balkan and World music here in the US, but for some reason no one seems to remember 3M3 at all. So, here's a public shout out to Ben Mandelson for being the conduit for so much wonderful music and experience in my and so many others lives.


My 1st ever review

So, here it is. There very first words written about the very first music I have released under my own name. The author is Devon Leger and its from his "5 Artists to Discover at Folk Alliance" blog posting at his popular Kithfolk Blog. (Look for a full interview in a future issue of his Kithfolk Quarterly Roots Music Magazine.)

Mark Rubin

Mark Rubin is another uncompromising voice in American roots music. An endlessly curious musical explorer, it would be impossible to catalogue all the bands he's been a part of and all the American musical traditions he can basically call his own. He's well known for his work in The Bad Livers, an early punk-grass band that paved the way for a lot of underground roots music to this day. He's also well known now for his brutally honest voice on the scene, calling bullshit on hypocrisy in the folk scene. At Folk Alliance, he'll be running their extensive music camp, so I don't think he'll actually be performing that much, which is why he gets bonus mention here. Mark's releasing a new solo album in 2015, Southern Discomfort, and it is a brutal and unflinching, but ultimately fascinating and deserved, look at American culture today through the prism of American roots music. A few songs come over from Mark's fabulous and under-rated earlier band The Atomic Duo (a bitter ode to rental warfare and classism with "Key Chain Blues" and a pure genius cover of Gil Scott Heron's "Whitey's On the Moon" as a jug band song), but the rest are new.

The most brutal song is "The Murder of Leo Frank", a murder ballad written in the old broadside style that chronicles the horrific mob lynching in 1915 of Northern Jewish factory superintendent Leo Frank in Georgia. You can read the details on Wikipedia, but the gist is that Frank's murder casts a light on the bitter reality of anti-semitism in the 20th century. Aside from the topical nature of much of Mark's songwriting, there are songs here that are just great fun. "Seriously (Too Much Weed)" is a ridiculously big band jass romp through weed lovin' and kudos for the sweet and charming "Don't Wake Up Jesse Lege" about touring with great older masters like Cajun accordionist Lege. Mark's a great writer aside from his songwriting, and I recommend his blog for interesting asides and opinions. Any way you cut it, Mark's voice cuts deep but is necessary in a roots music industry that's become increasingly complacent and self-congratulatory. Ignore him at your peril.


Rubin’s First Dictum of Cultural Arts:

There’s a poseur version of every great cultural output on Earth. 

And, given the option, the public uniformly prefers it to the original.