I land in Beirut and am immediately taken by the striking contrasts. In the French influenced architecture peppered with bullet holes, the disarray of traffic and haze of pollution beneath the enveloping mountains, I see sheer beauty. The small city of 1-2 million is buzzing with vibrancy, like a seed about to germinate for the upteenth time in history, it is a potent vine that refuses to let a civil war or any outside force keep it from thriving.
I have not felt this kind of edgy intensity anywhere before. Little singer/songwriter from Sydney, used to the quiet, organised life, I jump into a friend’s car at the airport and begin the dizzy ride. I am taken to a rehearsal in a basement venue called EM Chill. We start playing and the power cuts out! Sitting in the dark, I go through some minor resistance and a diva outburst (!!) before rising to the professional/physical challenges of the week: musicians cancelling at the last minute, missing sound equipment, loss of voice before a show (because of the endless partying and doo-doo shots: tequila, tobasco, a green olive and lemon) and very little sleep. With the help of my crew of old friends and new, I discover why Beirut is known as one of the top-ten liveliest cities on the planet for both play and work...
-Wed: TV interview and filming of rehearsal by Alhurra TV http://alhurra.com/, link coming up soon.
-Wed: Hamra Street Festival stage, had a blast with Zad Saad (percussion) on main stage (pics)
-Thu: EM Chill show with Slieman on oud and Zad on percussion
-Fri: Radio interview with Freddie on “The Trip”, Radio Liban 96.2 FM , special guests James Locksmith Ernesto Chahoud, Nickodemus and myself, link will be up soon for this too.
-Fri: Zico House show
-Sat: And the grand finale, a sunset set at the Beirut Groove Collective 2nd birthday party at Batroun Beach Art space.