Archive for May, 2009

Click here to see the original post with a lot more pictures of cool handmade guitars, a couple of which will make you blush.


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Part two of our May 1st Show. This time it’s “Longtime Gal”. Set it on your iphone and dance around the room…

Video by Hannah of hannahradcliff.com and CCCP Creative.
We think it looks mighty fine.

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While I was in Lebanon I became familiar with Fairuz, a Lebanese singer who is a huge musical icon in the Arab world.

She was born in a rural mountain village and consequently had a sort of “country girl” image.   In 1969 the Lebanese government banned her music from radio stations for 6 months because she refused to sing a private concert for a visiting dignitary, but the ban only made her more popular.   She insisted that she sang for the people, not individuals.

This song (Kifak Inta) is one of my favorites.   The instrumental part is kinda cheesy and 70s, but it’s a really beautiful song.   It will grow on you.

It’s about a couple who used to be in love but went their separate ways; in the song they are seeing each other for the first time in years and are reminiscing.

Here is Fairuz singing a more traditional-sounding song.

Another figure you should be familiar with if you want to be able to profess knowledge of modern Arab culture is the “Star of the East,” Egyptian Umm Kulthum.

Umm Kulthum is probably the #1 icon of modern Arabic music.   When she died in 1975, four million people attended her funeral.   Four million.

Please note that despite being backed by an orchestra, she is not using a mic.   Her voice was that strong.   She’s also celebrated for her flawless enunciation of Arabic.

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I have been meaning to do this for two weeks, but I tend to procrastinate. This is in honor of Rachel, our fearless violinist who as been in Beirut (and a few other locaitons in Lebanon) for a few weeks.

I have been a mild fan of the band Beirut for a while, but when I saw them live at Coachella last month, they were a gerat surpise. Their sound was bright and full and energetic. Definitely check them out if you can.

MP3: Beirut – A Sunday Smile

Here is Beirut’s video for “Elephant Gun”:

Here is just a little clip I took of the band performing “A Sunday Smile” at Coachella:

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Currently I am on my way home from Lebanon, where I visited for the last 2 weeks.   Last night I went out to a bar to see a traditional Arab band and it was a perfect last night out in Beirut.   The band (oud, violin, and dumbek) started out the evening with a few instrumentals.  Here is a clip from one of them:

Then they added a female singer:

And finally, a male singer:

So it’s a Saturday night in Beirut, and we are hanging out at this dark bar with a bunch of painfully hip-looking young Arabs.   About a minute into this song, approx. 10 guys spontaneously jumped up from their chairs and started doing this crazy dance that included lots of stomping and fancy footwork.   They held hands and danced around in a circle, alternately holding their hands high in the air, crouching low, and jumping.  The band kept the song going for a solid 8 minutes so they prolong the dance.   I tried to get it on video but it was way too dark for my little digital camera to catch it.

It was kind of like in this video below, but a lot faster, the steps were more complicated, and they kept the circle rotating all the time.

It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.   When the song finally ended they all sat down like nothing had happened and my companion and I just looked at each other with our mouths open.

Some sleuthing reveals that it’s a folk dance called dabke which is indigenous to the Levant.   Wikipedia says that houses in this region traditionally had roofs made of straw and dirt which needed to be compacted uniformly.  So they came up with this dance to do the job.

Here’s another video of Dabke that is fun to watch:

Right now I’m sitting in the Dubai airport mourning the fact that, as a European-American mutt, I have virtually no conscious cultural heritage.

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Hey folks! We’re playing this show tonight. Arizona, The Dive Poets, Old Lights and Big Heart Slide at The Firebird. We’ll go on third?

http://www.firebirdstl.com for more info! See you there!

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This is Junior Brown. He is playing Beale on Broadway this Sunday evening.

You might also remember him from this:

This is Junior Brown at Bonnaroo in 2007:

Go see this guy on Sunday.

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