Ever had a “snack mouse”? No? Me neither. (Have tried snack grasshoppers, a.k.a. chapulines, but that’s another story.)
Anyway, a group of Malawi musicians owe their fame in part to selling mice-on-sticks.
The story goes that U.S. music producer Ian Brennan – who produced Tinariwen’s Tassili, winner of the 2012 Grammy for world music, as well as music by Green Day, among others – was in Malawi looking for music to record. But he came up empty, and was about to give up when he happened to drive past a group of guys singing gospel-ish music, in between purveying snack mice.
Now they are formally known as Malawi Mouse Boys, and they've released their debut album, He Is #1. You can hear the band at about 3:30 into this documentary:
Until the Malawi Mouse Boys, the country has not made much musical news beyond its borders.
In fact, Brennan told The Sunday Times (as reprinted by The Happiness Experiment) that music from Malawi has been almost “invisible” outside of the country. That doesn't mean it's not a musical culture, though.
“I believe all countries have music," he continued. "There are no non-musical cultures. When a world-music expert told me there was no good music from Malawi, I took that as a personal challenge.”
Thankfully, Brennan took on the challenge. (Possibly the mice of Malawi will thank him, too, since there is talk that the Malawi Mouse Boys may tour the U.S. and Europe.)
Listen to this CBC As It Happens interview with Ian Brennan, where he tells the story of how he met and recorded the Malawi Mouse Boys.
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on Jun 20, 2012