Abu Dhabi’s Barzakh Festival to host a meeting of musical minds

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 perform at a previous event Los Angeles. (AFP)
Updated 04 March 2019
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Abu Dhabi’s Barzakh Festival to host a meeting of musical minds

DUBAI: A meeting of “genre-shattering” musicians is set to take place at the New York University of Abu Dhabi’s Barzakh Festival this weekend — and if you’re ready to push the boundaries of your taste in music, this is the spot to be.

The Arts Center, a complex of theaters and performance venues within the university campus, is set to host the two-day festival that kicks off on March 6.

The event will feature four bands performing over two days, including Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Alsarah & The Nubatones, Lekhfa and Altin Gün, described respectively as “Nigeria’s Afrobeat crown prince, the Sudanese retro-pop queen, Egypt’s indie alternative super group and funky Turkish psych folk,” by the center.

Nigerian Seun Kuti is the son of Fela Kuti, widely recognized as the pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre. Seun’s band, Egypt 80, consists of musicians from Fela Kuti’s original band, Africa 80, and they will take to the stage on Wednesday.

Also set to perform on Wednesday is Brooklyn-based outfit Alsarah & the Nubatones, featuring Sudanese Alsarah and Rami El-Aasser, Armenian-American oud player Haig Manoukian and French born, Togo-raised bass player Mawuena Kodjovi.

Egypt’s alternative indie supergroup, Lekhfa, will perform on Friday and is comprised of Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca and Tamer AbuGhazaleh. The trio will be joined by poet Mido Zoheir in a routine featuring a mix of hypnotic vocals, synths, beat loops, instrumental experimentation and traditional Arab instruments, such as the oud.

On Thursday, a day before they perform, Lekhfa will host an interactive workshop in which the band members will dissect several tracks from their album, giving insight into the creative process behind each track, the instrumentation and the role of poetry in the music-making process.

Meanwhile, Friday’s second performance will be by Altin Gün, known for its blend of Turkish folk music and funk rhythms, despite featuring band members from the Netherlands and Indonesia, as well Turkey.

According to the center’s website, “The two-day Barzakh Festival (aims to) create a meeting place of musical streams of genre-shattering artists from diverse cultures, whose global-minded music reflects multiple influences.”


What We Are Reading Today: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Updated 23 May 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

  • The author also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character

Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father of the US who rose up the social ladder, from a leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings. In bestselling author Walter Isaacson’s vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin seems to turn to us from history’s stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles, says a review published on goodreads.com.

By bringing Franklin to life, Isaacson shows how he helped to define both his own time and ours. 

He was, during his 84-year life, America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical—though not most profound—political thinkers. 

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. 

The author also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the 21st century.