Song as Radiograph: The Rachid Taha Interview

“Since I started making music I’ve worked with some very interesting people, some in the field of techno-progressive music listening, and at the same time I’ve been listening to Arab singers like Oum Kalthoum. I’ve also listened to a lot of intellectuals, writers, and painters, who’ve enriched me by helping me evolve. This is my wealth.” ~Rachid Taha Continue reading Song as Radiograph: The Rachid Taha Interview

Golden Mezwed, Part I

I think we’re about ready for a new feeling to enter music. I think that will come from the Arabic world. ~Brian Eno Meeting Gaddour We encounter Abdelkadr, who is better known as Gaddour, at our local café, where we often see him coming and going. He’s a friendly guy with a lot of friends, but we don’t pay him much notice until we see him performing on television with a large mezwed ensemble, singing and playing bindir (a lap drum like the Irish bodhrán, but played with the hands) and dharbouka (an hourglass-shaped drum held between the thighs and … Continue reading Golden Mezwed, Part I

The Tunisian Cafe: Caffeine Oasis in a Wayward Urban Desert (Part I)

“I’d much rather hang out in a cafe. That’s where things are really happening.” – Joe Sacco My husband, Ahmed, promises me a special treat: he’s going to take me to his favourite café. My vision of an incense-clouded grotto with belly dancers twisting to the dherbouka and mezwed is soon vaporised by the sight of a grimy cafe with a grimier, all-male clientele, one big room furnished with old plastic garden furniture whose original whiteness is embarrassed by stains and scratches. The thick tobacco smoke fails to mask a melange of unsavoury odours. “This is your favourite cafe?” I … Continue reading The Tunisian Cafe: Caffeine Oasis in a Wayward Urban Desert (Part I)

Every Day We’ll See the Dust (Too much, the Sahara Bus)

Film:The Piano in the Sands(Le Piano Des Sables) Director: Arnaud Petitet Genre: Documentary “I can assure you that there is a real beauty of the human being—there is sheer refinement. Man is really immeasurably big and beautiful, and he doesn’t always know it.” – Marc Vella Hey, let’s put a baby grand on the back of a bus and tour the Maghreb. What could possibly go wrong? Marc Vella, a piano virtuoso, has been doing this for more than two decades, visiting more than forty countries in the process. All in a mission to “celebrate humanity” as a participant in … Continue reading Every Day We’ll See the Dust (Too much, the Sahara Bus)


A Grumpy Dad, a Shiftless Lad, a Chance He Had Josh, the aimless teenaged son of Uriel, son of Eliezer, is being lectured by his father: I’m so close to giving up on you. You know what it means when a father gives up on his son? . . . Giving up on you means that instead of wanting to help you before it’s too late, I want to see you suffer so that I can gloat. Continue reading Footnote