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Twoubadou, Pt. 1

Many years ago, before producing for’s Radyo Shak project, Richard Fleming was better known as DJ Richard Nixon, part of the unholy trinity that made up the legendary Lower-East-Side tropical sound system known as Don Flan. Coming out of retirement on a strictly limited basis for Radyo Shak, Nixon brings you the first of two programs devoted to Haitian Twoubadou music, perhaps his favorite Haitian genre.

Twoubadou, derived from the french for “troubadour,” is music of the common man, played on simple, inexpensive or home-made instruments: acoustic guitar or tres; a single conga-like drum; tcha, or maracas; and a rhumba box, or marimbula, basically a hollow plywood box with thumb-piano-like metal tines set over a hole cut into the front, on which the bass notes are played. Often, a banjo or an accordion are added. There are very few recordings of traditional twoubadou, largely because it was seen as street music, played by drunks and vagabonds on corners and in bars of questionable repute. Twoubadous sing of everyday heartache, the vicissitudes of life, the joys of drink and other eternal topics well-known to the bluesman or the Dominican bachatero.


Ghetto Biennale: Radyo Shak


Radyo Shak was the independent broadcast voice of the Ghetto Biennale of Haiti, hosting freeform radio including Rara bands, locals, artists and writers, and Haitian revolutionary history.