Tamer Abu Ghazaleh at Al Balad Music Festival

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.



Valéry Giscard d’Estaing – Baraka Band

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I also haven’t found anything cool to post in a while. I JUST DID. And it’s beyond awesome. Now apparently, there’s this Egyptian band called  Baraka Band and they’ve been formed since 2007. They’ve been doing new covers for old Egyptian revolutionary folk songs, particularly those by the composer Sheikh Imam and vernacular poet Ahmad Fouad Negm, and I love their new modern takes on the classics.

This song is about Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, president of France’s visit to Egypt. The words of Ahmad Negm are just a brilliant pisstake at how his visit means splendor and prosperity for all Egyptians, so much that even poor people will afford to eat potatoes. Maryam Saleh’s delivery is just impeccable on this, she never misses a beat and did more than authentically translate Negm’s sarcasm into song. The song itself is cheerful circus music, which I find brilliantly illustrates the charade that surrounds these official visits.

Check it out, and share if you like. =D

Drought and Treachery by ElFar3i

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

Wardi and Aziz are gonna rock Amman this October

Tarakiyee is happy. Friday the 28th of October will be biggest event in Amman ever this month, and that’s including Halloween. Just check out the websites for Bands Across Borders. It might be no secret that I’m a Wardi fan boy, so that for me would have been enough, but adding Aziz and Razz to the mix and that’s enough to make any Ammani weep in joy. If you love the chaos and the ruggedness of Amman, or if you’re just a fan of good music in general, you just can’t miss this concert.

Now, to be fair, I’m a little worried. The Facebook Page states:

“The show will be as if you are attending a theater play with dynamics and serious emotional impact in addition to interactive lighting and video clips.”

I’ve never ever seen a local act like this, and if they pull it off it would be the most awesome thing ever. I’m hoping this would be the start of a new age in the Ammani music scene, where we move away from the coarseness and start adding some flair into the shows. There is a lot of amazing local talent, but until now I’ve never really enjoyed listening to a band live. Time for the bands to spend less time practicing in their garages, and more time practicing on a stage.

All in all, this event is proving to be very unmissable, you absolutely need to be at Cultural Palace on the 28th of this month. Reserve your tickets now, you can find more details on the website, or you can try your luck and see if you can win a free ticket through their Facebook page.

Wardi most popular Indie Musician in Jordan

Alaa Wardi, the once Amman-based indie musician, is the most popular Musician in Jordan on Youtube, with 18,400+ people subscribing to them, beating people like Autostrad and DJ Flava. He’s also third place overall in Jordan, beaten only by Kharabeesh (a local web cartoon studio) and her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdallah.

I’ll leave you with his latest work.  Take a moment and click here, and press suscribe. =D

Sryian Band Gene’s Song Ya Waladi

Check out Gene, a progressive rock band from Syria.

I like this song. The words to the song are based on a poem called, “My Son” by Tunisian poet Adam Fathi. It was first sung by Sheikh Ahmad Imam, an Egyptian singer, and now Gene remade it quite wonderfully. The track is very classic progressive rock, but the tune is catchy. Other than the lyrics though it doesn’t have an “Arabic” feel to it, and I still can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Special thanks to Mohammad Lafi who introduced me to the band.

Here are the lyrics in Arabic.

لاَ تَبْكِ فأحزانُ الصِغَرِ

تَمْضِي كالحُلْمِ مع الفَجْرِ

وقريبًا تَكْبُرُ يا وَلَدِي

وتُرِيدُ الدَمْعَ فلا يَجْرِي…


إِنْ سَهِرَتْ أمْطَارٌ مَعَنَا

أو غَطَّى البَرْدُ شَوارِعَنَا

فالدِفءُ يُعَمِّرُ أضْلُعَنا

ولَهِيبُ الأرضِ بِنا يَسْرِي…

وإذَا بَحَّتْ لَكَ أُغْنِيَةٌ

أَوْ أَنَّتْ قَدمٌ حافِيَةٌ

فَشُمُوسُ رِفاقِكَ آتِيَةٌ

وسَتُشْرِقُ مِنْ غَضَبِ الفَقْر…ِ


قدْ أُرْمَى خَلْفَ الجُدرانِ

وتحِنُّ لِحُبِّي وحَنَانِي

فانْظُرْ في قَلْبِكَ سَتَرانِي

لَنْ يَقْوَى القَيْدُ على الفِكْر…ِ

سأضُمُّكَ والصَدْرُ جَرِيحُ

وسأعْشَقُ والقَلْبُ ذَبِيحُ

مهما عَصَفتْ ضِدِّي الريحُ

لَنْ أَحْنِيَ في يوْمٍ ظَهْرِي…


وإذا ما الدهْرُ بنا دَارَ

ومَضَيْتُ إلى حَيْثُ أُوارَى

أَكْمِلْ مِنْ بَعْدِي المِشْوَارَ

لا تُخْلِفْ مِيعادَ الفَجْر…ِ

لَنْ يَسْقِيَ دمْعٌ أشْجارَكْ

لَنْ تَبْنِيَ بِالآهِ جِدارِكْ

فاصْرُخْ بالخَوْفِ إذا زارَكْ

لا تَخْشَى النارُ مِنَ الجَمْرِ…