Friday, February 06, 2009


First Week in Istanbul

Merhaba! It’s been almost a week since we arrived in Istanbul so I thought it was about time for a blog entry!

The apartment that we found on Craig’s list is a dream come true! It’s so comfortable and there is plenty of room for all five of us (me, Adama, Natalia, Amanda and Veronique). The kitchen is incredible and there are two bathrooms, wireless internet, central heating and all the comforts you could ask for! Natalia and I have the master bedroom with the nicest bathroom I’ve ever seen! We each have our own sink!

Galata Neighborhood

And the Galata neighborhood – a musicians fairy land! We have not left our neighborhood this whole week because everything and everybody is within a ten minute walk from our flat! All the music stores, all the music celebrities, all the great teachers and all the live music venues are a short hop away! I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t leave this neighborhood for the whole month!

All of the streets in our neighborhood are windy and cobble stone and there are tons of cafes , grocery stores , restaurants and plenty of great musicians playing on the street. There are very steep hills in the neighborhood. By the end of the month we will all have very nice butts!

The Dumbek Chic Posse Walking Around Their Hood

Celebrities in the Neighborhood

So far anyone we hoped to meet happens to be right here in Galatta! Here are some of the celebrities we’ve been hanging with:

Okay Temiz

Okay Temiz is one of the cutest people on the planet. He is a world known percussionist who has released countelss albums, one of which is my top five favorite albums of all time – Zurnas and Darbukas. I met him after his show at Lincoln Center several years ago and we’ve kept in touch. He has an amazing atelier right around the corner from us.

The girls and I went to meet him and we performed for him a piece that we’ve been working on that’s actually inspired by a piece on his album Zurnas and Darbukas! He couldn’t believe it!

Performing for Okay Temiz

Next week is Okay’s 70th birthday and he’s giving a big rhythm concert with drummers from all over the world to celebrate and guess who he invited to perform in it…….. Us! We will play the piece called Karsilama in the second half of the show! woo hoo! He’s being very nice to us and seems to want to hang out with us every night!

Selim Sesler

Selim Sesler is one of the greatest gypsy clarinetists in the world and he plays for free right in our hood several nights a week! We’ve already seen pichim play twice. Every night we see amazing live music!

Missirli Ahmet

Missirli Ahmet has a darbuka school right on our street! They have a very specific style. They only play on the clay and skin drums. They don’t let people join in the middle of their course, but it was nice to hang out there and see the beautiful school. They are very protective about their style – they don’t let the students record, video tape or even take notes! They won’t even let us observe the classes!

Missirli Ahmet’s Brother Hikmet Checking Out My Style at the School.

My Fabulous Teacher Benjamin

I’m having the best dumbek lessons of my life! Natalia and I went to meet this drummer Binyamin who was recommended to us. We ended up staying there for five hours! He gave us so many exercises – I filled up eight pages of my notebek! I haven’t felt so pushed in a long time! It’s ALL about the left hand! I’m gonna take a lesson with him every other day and then every other day practice. Today it took me four hours just to go over everything we did in the lesson! He doesn’t speak a work of English but its okay and he sends me text messages in Turkish telling me to practice! How cute! I’m very excited about studying with him.


The girls found a nice dumbek teacher to give them group lessons. His name is Hakan and he has a cool studio in our neighborhood.

Other Friends so Far


David is a sweet guy from Ohio that has been living in Istanbul for three years studying dumbek and teaching English. He’s been helping us acclimate here, taking us around, giving us advice and introducing us to good people.


Fabio is a nutty Italian percussionist working for Okay Temiz. We hang out with him a lot. He’s really fun as long as you don’t let him drink too much Raki.

Fabio Drinking Raki

Other Interesting Odds and Ends

Upcoming Shows in the Middle East

Wednesday Feb 11th. 8:00pm
Okay Temiz Birthday Concert
(212) 231 54 97-8
CRR Concert Hall
CRR - Cemal Resit Rey Konser Salonu
Darülbedai Caddesi, Harbiye
Istanbul. Turkey

Thursday March 12, 2009
Alexandria Library
Great Hall
Alexandria, Egypt

Wednesday, March 18th
Ewart Hall
Cairo, Egypt

I lived by the Galata tower too and those were some of my best times.
be carefull with the Raki, you know what they say about Raki"sisede durdugu gibi durmaz"

I am trying to put up a website about Turkey and I want to ask you if you are interested in publishing this article on my website

let me know
good luck with galata
i heard you give Dumbek lessons in Cairo, Egypt I'll appreciate it if you tell me what should i do and should i have to join your classes.
Hi Raki,
It looks like you are keeping extremely busy and having a blast!
Thanks for posting to the blog, and sharing all the photos and videos (adamadrums myspace vids!!!)... I love it, and miss you all. Tell Natalia that she impressed me on the chin-up bar!!!
Mmmm...Emin Percussion. Are you bringing any of those pieces back with you? What does shipping cost from Istanbul to the States?
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