And welcome to the Cultural Reads Newsletter with book, music, and movie recommendations from around the world.
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This week we have: Indonesia’s Buskers, Down the Rabbit Hole, Libyan Music, Native American Wisdom, World’s Biggest Wave
Jakarta’s buskers are street musicians who hop on and off crowded commuter buses, singing songs and playing guitar to passengers as the vehicle navigates chaotic city roads.
Despite the buskers being part of everyday life, they’re often invisible to society, homeless, and living on the brink of poverty.
Daniel Ziv, a Canadian who fell in love with Indonesia, decided it was time to tell their story.
He saw the buskers as fun, funny, wise, and hugely talented and wanted to share that with the world.
He created a documentary and ended up winning 12 international movie awards.
Curious to learn more about the buskers and how to make your first successful documentary?
Check out my interview with Daniel Ziv.
Last weekend, I went to Down The Rabbit Hole, a famous festival in the Netherlands.
It was my second time going, and I still can’t shake the feeling of how amazing it is to celebrate life and music with so many people simultaneously.
My favorite acts were UK DJ Fred Again, Ethiopian jazz player Mulatu Astatke, Ghanian Highlife legend Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Dutch-Turkish band Altin Gün and Nigerian Afrobeats singer Burna Boy.
Here’s the entire festival playlist.
Ahmed Fakroun is a Libyan pioneer of modern Arabic pop music who became famous in the 70s.
His music is a mix of Arabic folk music, disco, funk, and reggae, and his lyrics often touch on themes of love, unity, and social justice.
Despite his success, Fakroun has remained relatively low-key and has continued to produce music from his home studio in Benghazi, Libya. A fun fact that a lot of people don’t know is that he’s also a trained dentist.
My favorite song from the popstar is Nisyan.
When I visited Mexico two years ago, I ran into Lance, an American who did a lot of work with the Maya (yes, they still exist!).
We discovered a common interest in indigenous wisdom, amongst others, and quickly became friends.
Lance recently recommended I’d read Think Indigenous by Doug Good Feather, a Native American from Standing Rock Lakota who runs a healing center.
It’s dime after dime of wisdom. Some of my favorite quotes are:
You can find Think Indigenous on Amazon.
Not every day, you discover a documentary that makes you go, “Wow, holy shit!”
The 100-Foot Wave is that kind of series.
The show follows big wave surfer Garrett McNamara and his quest in Portugal to ride a 100-foot wave (that’s 30 meters or the equivalent of a 10-story building).
I find everything about the 100-Foot Wave fascinating; how crazy it is, how beautiful the waves are, finding the right mindset, conquering fear, and the ups and downs of a pro surf athlete.