Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Internet Memory Jogger

Yesterday, the whole family went out to a Vietnamese place we had been wanting to try for a while.

While there, one of the kids drew our attention to the music playing over the PA system and noted how hearing ethnic music when at such a place made her think it was more authentic. Another of the girls indicated that the music sounded sad. I thought to myself that the mournful sound was fitting considering South East Asian history over the last several decades. My wife broke my reverie by answering the first girl's comment by saying she judges the authenticity of a place by how many of the customers appear to be of the same ethnic background as the genre of the establishment--they know what it is supposed to taste like and so if they are here, it is good. We then got into a discussion revolving around why Indian places always, whether it is a good place or not, are full of Indians.

Later, I got to listening to the music again and it was really hard to characterize: The most prominent instrument sounded like classical guitar. The music itself sounded like a fusion of East Asian sounds and Calypso music. The song itself sounded like Banana Boat Song which I had always thought of as "Dey Oh!". Here is where I began to rack my brain: Who was the famous American singer who popularized Calypso music? For the life of me, I could not remember! When I got home, quick internet searches revealed the name of Harry Belafonte, which is the guy that I was thinking of.

Along the way, I came across a line from Wikipedia that was perhaps meant to be funny, but I think it was unintentional.

Calypso is part of a spectrum of similar folk and popular Caribbean styles that spans benna and mento, but remains the most prominent genre of Lesser Antillean music.

Added: When we pulled up to the place, our oldest daughter exclaimed, "I thought it was spelled Faux"! In fairness to her, she has been taking French for three years. Also, I may have along the way made a lame joke along the lines of, "It may be called Pho, but it is very authentic"!

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