Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Cairo, Tuesday, February 22, 2005

MARCH 11TH, 8:00 pm
With Rami, Dumbek Girls Gone Wild and Saiid’s Troupe

Tonight I’m staying home – hallas!

It hit me last night at Saiiid’s that I haven’t had any off time since
I got to this country! First we had to run around to get the apartment.
Then we had to run around to organize this concert. And every night
we’ve been going to Saiid until the wee hours of the morning. It’s
been amazing. Some of the best musicians in Egypt hang out at his
place – playing backgammon, eating lib (seeds), jamming and smoking
stuff. At the same time there’s this composer who is recording his
music in Saiid’s recording studio. The music is so cool – very
difficult and interesting and he’s getting amazing musicians in to
record. No other women hang out there, and no other pink people
besides me. Im learning a lot about music and about what to say in
Arabic when you pass a ....... (censored by Egyptian police).

Last night I jammed with this kid “Hummus” – Saiid’s adorable 15 year
old nephew who is quite good on the dumbek!

Hummus Jamming Under the Surveillance of Uncle Saiid

I also had my first lesson on the Rababa – the Egyptian version of the
kemenche. It’s even more loud and obnoxious than my loud kemenche.
Fishky’s gonna hate it.

Saiid got the best Rababa player in Egypt to come to the studio and
give me a lessons, This guy is so kick ass. I’m gonna take a lesson
every other day. He doesn’t speak a word of English. The funny thing
was that he came to give me a lesson and he didn’t bring his
instrument! I said “ how can we have a lesson if you don’t have a
rabbaba?” So for the first lesson we passed mine back and forth and
next lesson (Ein Shallah) he’ll bring his own. But what a musician!
I’ll see if I can put a sample of his playing on the blog.

The big news is that we have a concert in the best possible place – an
outdoor theater on the Nile in the middle of downtown Cairo!!!!!! Yay!
I’m so happy! It’s underneath a bridge that used to be a garbage dump
but this guy Mr. Sawy made it into an amazing cultural center with
different stages and art galleries,ect. We met with him and I showed
him footage from a Raquy and the Cavemen concert and he loved it. He
also loves Saiid so he said we could play there! Yay! (For details
see above). I’m very excited. Our’s is the outdoor stage – its very
big and the space can easily hold a few hundred people. It’s just
perfect!!!! Said is excited about having the “Dumbek Girls Gone Wild”
perform with us. Yay!

Now I can relax a little – I just have to rehearse with Saiid and
anyone else who’s playing with us. Today this guy Miles from LA came
over who plays upright bass. Very nice and very tall and very good
musician! We jammed all day – he’s learning the bass part to Dust and
Raquin – Ein Shalla he’ll play with us on some concerts.

Rehearsal with Miles in our Luxury Apartment

Oh – a few interesting things I’ve learned about the dumbek!

1 – In the old days these guys used to come around to the Egyptian
neighborhoods with cars and yell “Bring out your old clothes” and in
exchange for old clothes, the people got a dumbek! That’s why so many
people in Egypt play dumbek! (according to Saiiid)

2- When I studied in India I learned the importance of respecting your
instrument – for example you should never put your feet on the drum.
This theory was shattered for me when Saiid el Artist, the greatest
dumbek player in Egypt, plopped his butt down on my drum in order to
stretch the skin – he sat on it for about 20 minutes!

By the way, is anyone reading this? Please write to me with your
comments! I’d love to hear from you!

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AchotiAre you kidding me? I am opening you blog every morning, reading in Jeleousy, I have to admit that since I was subbing for you and rami in Maia and Figaro the number of gigs went up sharply.....
Yalla Yauchti, love & kisses to you and Rami
To Raquy From Kansas

As your biggest fan in Kansas, I am reading your posts with great interest. They’re like press dispatches from an exotic hotspot. Cairo, with its sunny, warm weather, late night jam sessions, street cafes, and other third-world distractions is so much more interesting than the dreary Midwest in winter. Your enthusiasm for music, your genuine interest in people, and your joyful approach to life come through in your posts with great clarity and are very interesting and refreshing. I look forward to reading your next adventure. Are you planning any side trips, for instance, to the great pyramids?

I just discovered your music a few weeks ago when after attending a Pharaoh's Daughter concert in Lawrence, Kansas, I did some internet research on world music sources, found your website, and was blown away by your phenomenal drumming. I have since ordered both your CDs and have been avidly listening. Dust is impressive and a quite a complex experience: part rock concert, part a stop at an outpost along the Silk Road, and part graduate seminar on the modern and traditional applications of ancient percussion instruments. I found your liner notes and drawings to be a quite excellent primer on the various instruments you use to create your music. As for Masmud, it is lovely music, and sounds fantastic.

Keep on blogging.

Best Wishes,

hey raquy
i too am reading your blogs daily, insanely jealous and definitely living vicariously. i absolutely loved cairo and laughed my way through egypt for 3 weeks back in '98 with a good friend (and some others we picked up along the way).

the trip actually started out with the most traumatic night of my life, and my close friend almost dying (don't ask!) but the generosity and love we experienced from everyone in the hospital, the youth hostel, and on the streets was overwhelming. i only have amazing memories from egypt. and i heard my first dumbek in the sahara.

don't know if you got my email...but let me know if you're heading to wadi rum in jordan. i spent 5 weeks there in the desert, listening to bedouin playing the dumbek, oud and singing and dancing under the stars every night. that's where my true love affair with the dumbek began! i highly recommend it (especially during a full moon!) and can give you names of some very charming bedouin to contact for an overnight hafla in the desert...only 1 1/2 hrs from aqaba, just a ferry to egypt.

really appreciate the photos with your updates!! thanks for sharing your experiences with us all!
love julie
Salut Raquy,
J'adore ton blog. Continue! Bonne chance pour le concert. On est tous avec toi en pensees. Gros bisous a Rami.
Hi Raquy,
I just found this link while searching for Egyptian travels :)
I think you'll have to copy and paste. Hope you enjoy. When are you going to post pics of the amazing Egyptian bellydancers?

Fan from CT,
Raquy...Seems like you r having lots and lots of fun...Well Saiid seems to be also very alented guy...Can't wait to see everything you'll write about later :)
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