Amoeblog

Omar Souleyman At The Echo 7/12/11

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, July 18, 2011 07:45am | Post a Comment
When I heard Omar Souleyman was playing in Los Angeles, I knew I had to go. Not only do I love his music but also how many times do you have a chance to see anyone from Syria perform in the U.S.? All those who cry about what a disappointment the Obama administration is can thank their liberal visa policies towards international artists. Do you know how many artists’ visas were denied during the Bush administration, especially if they’re from a country deemed a threat to the U.S.? 

Truth be told, there are many places you can hear music like Omar Souleyman across the Los Angeles area. In various Arabic restaurants in Glendale, Alhambra and the West Hollywood you can find someone like Souleyman’s collaborator Rizan Sa'id on a couple of keyboards playing behind a group of belly dancers or at a wedding reception. However, comparing Souleyman to those restaurant musicians is the equivalent of comparing Junior Kimbrough to some hack wearing a fedora playing slick Chicago-style blues. Sure, they both play blues music, but with Kimbrough, you felt the blues.

I had a feeling what an Omar Souleyman audience would look like: The hipster boys who travel to places like Indonesia and buy cassettes of local artists with their ambiguously ethic girlfriends? Check! Arabic people, mostly Syrian nationals, checking out a guy from their home country? Check! The “way too cool” musicians and deejays, who never say anything to you even though you see them everywhere you go? Check! Aging hipsters, still on the brink of discovering something new? Check! Ok, we can proceed.

From the first beat people were ready to dance. The Syrians and the new and older hipsters, all lost it when Soulyman hit the floor. Dabke, the Syrian party music in which Souleyman and Sa'id are famous for, is a mixture of high-energy Arabic music that sounds like gritty house music mixed with echoed vocals. Souleyman, dressed in jalabiya with sunglasses, looked like he stepped right out of the desert night and onto the stage. I wondered if he looked at the sold out crowd and thought, “What the f*^k? Who are these people?” Even the various Middle Eastern people, who went to dance on stage and spoke to him in Arabic, were far more westernized than they would like to think, at least compared to Souleyman.

In the end the show was perfect. Syrians may go all night but the L.A. audience just started to lose steam right about the time they stopped. This show reminded me of Konono No 1 first show in Los Angeles a few years back. A show that was mixed bag of Africans, hipsters and the aging World Music enthusiasts, all dancing till the very end, but barely hanging on compared to the Congolese who can go all night.




Omar Souleyman at the Mezzanine in SF this Tuesday June 7

Posted by Kells, June 2, 2011 02:19pm | Post a Comment
Syrian master of dabke and Iraqi choubi jams Omar Souleyman will be setting the sweaty boogie-party off this Tuesday in San Francisco at the Mezzanine! Come one, come all and join the one-third of the Amoeba Music SF staff that already hold tickets to this high-impact, calorie-shedding dance party --- hope they properly packed that keyboardist this time 'round: get your tickets here!
check out this sweet vid below featuring "Leh Jani" --- the opening track from the Sublime Frequencies CD Omar Souleyman - Highway to Hassake: Folk and Pop Sounds of Syria:

(In which Job returns from [kind of a] vacation.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 4, 2007 11:31am | Post a Comment

Honey! I’m home…!

[Kiss.]

Whew! It is crazy hot here in Hollywood. How have you survived? I’m this close to envying the Donner Party.

[Sets luggage down.]

Where have I been? Didn’t you see the Post-It note I left on our autographed portrait of Gunnar de Frumerie?

No?

What do you mean you were struck blind by the Lord Our God while traveling the Road to Damascus? Are you crazy?

Yes, I know Labor Day traffic on I-5 is maddening, but I hardly think a detour through Syria was good idea. And anyhow, I wrote the note in Braille, so that’s no excuse for not reading it.

[Takes off shoes and unbuttons shirt.]

Anyway, I don’t want to fight.

I’ve been in Santa Barbara over the weekend. I was at a wedding for some of Corey’s friends. It was hot there, too, but at least we were on the coast, so it was beautiful.

Oh, a funny thing happened that continues a strange theme in my recent blogs. One of the humans attending the wedding was Octavia Spencer – a total sparkplug, very quick with the one-liners – and, as she was introduced to my small group, she lowered her sunglasses at me and said:

“Whoa! You have some pretty eyes! Hoo!”

Which makes two times this week that an obscure female comedian has commented on my optical globes. I know, right? What exactly are my pheromones excreting? Too funny.

[Washes face.]

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…!

[Screams and flails madly, knocking over bottles of various vanity needs.]

What the hell? I can’t see! I can’t see!

[Runs cold water over eyes; pants.]

Why… was there… salsa… in my acne face wash bottle?

What do you mean you ran out of Tupperware? Doesn’t salsa come in its own jar?

Oh, you made it from scratch?

Why didn’t you just…

Oh, don’t. Don’t cry. Of course I appreciate that you made me fresh salsa. I just wish you would’ve, y’know, not stored it in my beauty-care products.

Forgive me. I didn’t mean to yell. It was the jalapenos burning my pupils talking.

I love you.

[Kiss.]

Do we have any chips?

Okay, so… Seeing Ms. Spencer reminded me that I’ve been meaning to tell you about my new favorite TV show, “The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman”.

It’s written by and stars Laura Kightlinger, who is most rad. She’s been a writer for Saturday Night Live (and guest-appeared on it, too) amongst other notable screen credits, plus has the dubious distinction of having dated the stupefying Jack Black.

Her show is one of two original programs produced by the IFC cable channel.

[Fixes a slightly dirty Grey Goose martini with two olives.]

Let me tell you… It is THE ANSWER to those of us who love “Absolutely Fabulous”. Anyone who loves AbFab is almost certain to take to it; there are many parallels, except that, instead of two British women who drink and snort their way through the messy world of high fashion, we have two American women who drink and snort their way through the Hollywood film industry.

It is fresh. It is funny. You never know what’s going to happen next, except you know you will laugh as it happens. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

It’s low budget, but they work that to their advantage. It’s grittiness is not only appropriate to the world they’ve created, but adds to its appeal.

If you’re like me, it will leave you wishing you could hang out with Jackie Woodman as she blithely makes her way through every bad choice and self-destructive whim with the wit and poise of a central-European countess.

[Sheds exoskeleton and lays a few eggs; sets empty martini glass in sink.]

Anyway, I insist you check it out. I haven’t been this excited about a TV show since “Deadwood”.

[Sighs sadly.]

Deadwood… Come back to me…

[Slithers into a hole in the wainscoting and listens to iPod before falling asleep to the dulcet tones of Annette Hanshaw.]