"Island Brothers" b/w "New Wonder," is the new single from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & the Cairo Gang. It isn't simply a record of two great songs with stunning artwork. It isn't merely two more songs from the fellows who put together The Wonder Show Of The World for themselves and for us. It is also a response to an event, an attempt to use music to do something good for people who need more than just great music in their lives.
The plan is for as much of the profits as possible from the sales of this single to be given to a Louisville-based organization called EDGE Outreach. They are a faith-based group (which is to say, Christian, although they have helped out among the Moslems of Pakistan in the last year as well) who have put their energy towards providing grassroots water purification systems that can be maintained by local populations. Ideally this diminishes water-born ailments such as cholera. Bonny was able to check out what they do and how they do it; their work was impressive.
It's been a year since the catastrophe in Haiti, and while less is heard about it in the U.S. media, a million people remain homeless, and in October an outbreak of cholera was confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the first cholera outbreak that Haiti has seen in more than a hundred years, and there have been some 140,000 cases, with the death toll now well over 3,000 people.
Many people and organizations are working to aid the Haitian people. For their part, EDGE Outreach is looking to educate Haitians on how to provide themselves with safe drinking water; clean, safe water will go a long way towards preventing the spread of cholera. So far, they have trained over twenty Haitians to install and operate water purification systems - but these people now need equipment, tools, and water purifiers.
When you buy "Island Brothers" b/w "New Wonder," you join EDGE Outreach, Domino and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & The Cairo Gang in the effort to help the people of Haiti by providing them with pure water and education. The purification systems and the knowledge will continue to be in use long after the cholera relief efforts have ended.
Clearly, this is a very good cause for people very much in need. And the record that we hope to move dollars and pounds around with is a worthy effort - a two-song, 10" single whose music will resonate with Bonny & Cairo concert attendees from all around the long road traveled in 2010, when both songs were performed almost nightly. Even on the nights when ears heard them for the first time, the songs sang out in familiar fashion, as great songs so often do, striking bones in the body which have been struck before and are vibrating still.
For this single, the songs were performed by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & The Cairo Gang with Ben Boye, Van Campbell, Danny Kiely and Angel Olsen, who toured in the latter half of 2010 with Bonny & Cairo. Special guest Rob Mazurek (whose work brought air and light to Bonny's Beware) solos delicate on "Island Brothers," which featues stacked harmonies from Bonny, Cairo and Angel. The careful arrangement of dynamics that marked all the songs on The Wonder Show Of The World is present on both songs, with "New Wonder," more indicative of the ballad style that was explored throughout that album.
The artwork for the single is a stunning trio of photographs taken by New York Times photographer Damon Winter in Haiti during the times since the earthquake struck over the course of the past year.