Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Nile Project - Aswan Concert, playing tourist & Open Mic

Alsarah, Mekuanent and Asrat drink some coffee before the show
The concert in Aswan was a super success. The Cultural Center was packed and the crowd had TONS of energy. 

Hany and Ahmed Said

Nyaruach and Meklit 
Meklit dazzles the crowd

Nyaruach brings it

Vocalists have one hell of a time

Ugandan percussion solo with Lawrence and Michael

Gigi (another volunteer), Asrat & me

Bust of a Nubian King

The Philae/Isis Temple

Hieroglyphs from floor to ceiling

Playing music



And of course graffiti from centuries ago before the temple had security.

The Nile Project organized an open mic for a Nubian Village that is located right on the Nile. Locals and Nile Project musicians participated. These kids opened.





Simon plays the didgeridoo.

Akiko taking photos of the crowd

Doctor! (that's his nickname)

Mariam, Gigi and Alsarah 
Dancing with the little girls.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Nile Project - Blog 5 - more photos

With Abuda, the owner of the Fekra Cultural Center

Mo, taking a moment after a swim in the Nile

Ahmed-Said takes a break from playing and singing to dance in full Sudanese costume

Jorga (Ethiopia) plays for the sunset

Spices in the market

Artie!

Mohsen (Egypt), Makuanet (Ethiopia) and Andres (Ethiopia) discuss

Alfred (Egypt) and Hazen (Egypt) goof around on the Oud

Dina sings with the staff around the Shisha

Audience delight after Mohsen's song at the first run-through of songs

The original spot of the Philae Temple. It was flooded by the construction of the High Dam in the 70s and moved by the UN in the 80s.

Hieroglyphs on the gate to the original spot of the Philae Temple

The current location of the Philae Temple

ME!

Ahmed-Said's amazing chicken shirt

Maruf plays whatever this instrument is. Looks like and sounds like a bass Oud, with three sets of double strings.

A Nubian graveyard on Hessa Island.

Hessa Island

Hessa Island

Our river boat

Watering a tree in the desert

Inside a Nubian home on Hessa Island

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Nile Project - Blog 4

Dina (Egypt), Ahmed-Omar (Egypt), Mekuanent (Ethiopia), Adel (Egypt-Nubia) and Alsarah (Sudan)

After sending an email to my Mom yesterday, I realized I never explained what The Nile Project is working toward. So here you go:
  • January 27th there will be a free all ages concert in Aswan. 
  • January 31st there will be a free all ages concert in Cairo. I will go with them.
  • I also believe there will be a Private concert at the Swedish Embassy in Cairo since one of the financial backers is a Swedish Department. 
  • In the more distant future there is talk of an album and tours down the Nile, in Europe and the United States.
  • There is also plans of educational camps for kids all along the Nile Basin.
  • Much much to plan and more complicated logistics for the staff. woohoo!

The taxis are so cool

Some thoughts:

I'm enjoying the combinations of Arabic and Ethiopian scales, Ugandan rhythms and Sudanese melodies.

The Fekra Cultural Center farm
Watching master musicians learn something new from scratch, like learning a rhythm or scale from another culture, is like watching little kids in a music class. It's putting them outside of their comfort zone, but they are all learning.

Moshen (Egypt), Ahmed-Said (Sudan) and Asrat (Ethiopia)

I sat in on a session the other night where the tune was very rock and roll. I explained the meaning of the phrase “kicking ass” and “shredding” to Hazem the Oud player, trying to compare him to the likes of Eddie Van Halen. He laughed.


Camera man Maruf (Tajikistan via Berkeley) and Mekuanent (Ethiopia)
Lawrence (Uganda), Nyaruach (South Sudan), and Makuanet (Ethiopia) - This session was especially interesting because none of these folks speak a common language. 

Film Crew

I exchanged mp3s with one of the staff members here at Fekra Center. I'm super excited about these tracks, mostly Egyptian and Nubian pop. He wanted some reggae, so I gave him some Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals and figured I'd also throw in some Meters, Amadou & Mariam, Souad Massi and Howlin' Wolf.

Mekuanent dances at an after party - this guy is all entertainer. A total doll.
The Fekra Cultural Center is located between the Aswan Dam and the High Dam. The water has been getting lower and lower since I've gotten here. I heard that over New Year, the levels got so high that folks were worried it would flood. And, literally in the last two hours, the levels are right back up to normal.  It's bizarre.

The film crew takes Mohammed out for a special shot. The shoot was difficult, but the results were quite beautiful.  The water levels were so low, the sound guy (from the UK) had to get out of the boat and push.

The fisherman whose boat the film crew used for the shoot, patiently waiting for his boat back.

The sunsets are crazy here
Between the musicians, staff (of the Nile Project and the Fekra Center), volunteers and journalists, film crew and sound crew there are around 40 people here, maybe more (not everyone is sleeping at Fekra). The energy can be intense, and there have been some difficult moments for me. But we're getting through it and these folks are very very sweet. I've also got Downton Abbey to distract me and some trips into town from time to time :)