HAHA! Just discovered an 80s Jordanian pop band that sings in English and is called Hot Ice. Hani Jordan, one of the best youtube old video archivists brings us this gem from the 80s, taken from a French TV show, of a music clip for one of the band’s songs called you’ll never guess what, “Never After”! Even the video is shot in pretty old vintage Amman. AND IT ALL SOUNDS EXACTLY AS AWESOME AS YOU THINK! I WILL CHERISH THIS INTERNET GIFT FOREVER.
A common adage in the region is that the Palestinians have been forgotten, especially in the post-Arab Spring world with Syria up in arms, and Egypt having a new revolution every couple of days. While there are legitimate tragedies happening all over the world, and they all deserve attention, a Palestinian film maker by the name of Dalia Abuzeid has decided to document the trials of a particular group of people that have suffered from decades of marginalization that still goes on today, in a place close to where I call home. In Jordan, there are 24,000 refugees from Gaza that live in a camp that’s just under a kilometer square big, 40 kilometers away from Amman. Refugees from Gaza. Gaza refugees are only given a fraction of the rights other refugees in Jordan enjoy. The restrictions have a debilitating effect on the quality of life in the camp, the unemployment rate in the camp is 43%, and 64% of the camp refugees live on less than $2 a day.
I’ll leave you to watch the introduction to the film project.
The director Dalia says on the page that she intends for the film project to have a direct impact on life in the camp, for the better. If you want to help, I want to direct you to the film project page on zoomal. The project is missing about $4300 dollars for it to be funded, if you can help that would be great. If almost 200 people contribute 20 dollars, they would meet their goal. Wouldn’t you pay that little to remember a great cause and support a great project?
On the third day of Al Balad Music Festival (f, t), I was lucky to attend two concerts by Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Maryam Saleh. In it’s third iteration now, Al Balad Music festival started in 2009, as an effort to present independent musical acts from the Arab world to the Jordanian audience. The festival venue is the renovated Odeon in Amman, a ancient Roman theater. What was interesting about the concert venue is the incredible acoustics, where the sound would be blaring inside the theater, but barely audible once you step out the door, which speaks volumes about the architecture skills of the ancient Romans.
The first act for the day was Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, with his unique brand of Arabic Alternative music. As a vocalist, he shows amazing dexterity in shifting through various accents, tones and styles to deliver a remarkable variety of songs that he has composed, but written by a plethora of Arab literary icons, most notably the famous Arab poet Najeeb Al Suroor. Tamer echoes a forgotten voice of Arab music that was buried by decades of extremism and gentrification.
However, the main dynamic in the performance was the constant struggle between Tamer’s oriental instruments, his Oud and Buzzok, and the classical rock instruments, the bass, drums, and keyboards, all manned by accomplished musicians in their own rights. While the rest of the band would play together in harmony, even laughing and giving each other glances on stage, Tamer would stand alone with his chest out, holding his Oud unconventionally like a punk rocker would, vying to carve his own music out of the noise of rock. It’s a refreshing brand of Oriental fusion, unlike the norm where the Oud or Buzzok would bow for a mere complementary role. It’s in this dynamic of dissonance and the rebellious lyrics that the band was able to manifest the complex post-Arab Spring gestalt, making Tamer Abu Ghazaleh a live act that’s not to be missed.
The highlight of the show was the performance of the song “Breaking News”, the one in the music video below.
Follow my blog for the next part, where I review the amazing Maryam Saleh’s concert.
Today Jordan’s private TV channel Ro’ya decided to cancel hate cleric Amjad Qourshah’s show that was scheduled this Ramadan, after overwhelming public pressure. People’s objections varied between being against his sectarian calls for violence, referring to Arab Idol fans for celebrating Mohammad Assaf’s victory as heretics, and because of his attacks against pro-regime loyalists, and what they perceive as attacks against the Kingdom’s army and security forces. His recent public outbursts on his Facebook page all contributed to his fall out of popularity in the country, just a year ago he was being touted as a shining beacon of moderate Islam in the country, and his shows on TV and Youtube were very popular, especially among the youth segments.
It didn’t take long for Qourshah to respond, with another classic outburst on his Facebook page. He started off with congratulating the “Zionists” and “Lucifer” for winning this round, conceding that he has lost a large segment of Arab youth to their evil schemes. He then went on on a longer rant, mostly about Arab Idol, claiming that Palestinians have sold 65 years of misery for one night of debauchery in celebrating Mohammad Assaf’s victory. He also said that this is the same kind of brainwashing Christians in Andalusia did, eventually leading to the slaughter of Muslims there like sheep. To further prove his point, he also highlighted the Ottoman annexation Constantinople, as an example of when we “broke the will of the enemy”. He finished his rant saying that God’s victory is coming, and that we have to be prepared when it happens, and the only way to be prepared is to read the Quran and for women to be pious.
I did my best to translate the rant while preserving the right amount of crazy in it. I’m not sure how well Christian Jordanians will take to being described as the enemy. I’m relieved that his TV show got cancelled, but this is a lecturer at Jordan’s biggest university, and he still has a lot of support in Jordan, as of this moment his rant amassed 3000 likes in less than 3 hours. I think we need to apply more public pressure so that a man like this can longer poison the minds of our youth with his hate speech.
I’m working right now on a startup project called Libroswap. The purpose of this project to facilitate the swapping of books between university and school students. Despite the many advances in technology these days, books remain an important source of knowledge. We simply cannot risk keeping this knowledge hidden in our closets and storage rooms while many need this knowledge to be freed.
Not to mention the fact that making more books requires trees, an ever more scarce commodity these days. We’re hoping that Libroswap can also have an ecological impact, as well as an economical impact in these times of economic struggle. Please help support our project at our FB page.
Elfar3i, the brainchild of Tareq Abukwaik, has always been something special. He’s always never afraid to speak out his mind, with socially-conscious music that always leaves you thinking. He is by far my favorite lyrically in the Ammani music scene. Also, full disclosure, he’s my cousin, and that the fact that we share some genes just makes me prouder. =D
I leave you know with his latest song, Drought and Threachery. Jordan is one of the poorest countries in the world when it comes to water, and Elfar3i’s minimalist guitar line perfectly illustrates that. The song goes into a cheerful chorus, that is a perfect analogy to the callous attitude people have towards water conservation, as the lyrics make reference to the common belief people have that God will deliver them from whatever problem they have, without them actually doing something about it. Enjoy this song by your brother, Elfar3i, and my favorite cousin. =D
Yesterday at the KHCC in Ras-el-Ein, the Instituto Cervantes and the Spanish Embassy of Amman presented the Brodas Bros, a Catalan Hiphop dance group (Facebook). And they were AWESOME. I had my reservations before going to the show, I’m not a fan of urban dancing in particular, but the Brodas are a lot more than that. Sitting through that show for an hour and a half, it cannot be described with any other word than complete.
I was very impressed by how they used the entire medium available at the theater, whether it’s the space available, the sounds, the lighting. It was a feast for the senses. My favorite part of the show was when they shut all the lights, and performed with flashlights in their hands, it just seemed surreal, as they danced on the roof of the theater with their shadows, and that was just the most brilliant moment of a very brilliant show.
The dancing itself was great, some of the best urban dancing I’ve seen, and the styles were just so varied that I wish I was a hip-hop expert so I can name them all. They played their own music, with drums, a saxophone, a flute, and beatbox, and they also had some recorded stuff. Every dance number had a theme that they’ve explored, such as alcoholism, sexuality and such, but it wasn’t at all very serious, they weren’t afraid of using humour, particularly using their dexterity with dancing.
In the end, I have to applaud their energy, because the show started strong, stayed strong throughout, and it finished strong. The group made everybody in the stage get up, and jump, as they played their last number. And here comes the best part, they exited through the main doors of the theater and waited for everybody else to follow them outside, where they talked to the people. It was amazing to see that no matter how professional the show was, that they were true to their roots as a street group. They even found a group of Jordanian urban dancers and made a makeshift dance circle in the lobby. I applaud them highly for making last night simply unforgettable.
If you’ve missed the show, here is a video from their Vimeo page.