Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ferry to culture

Danny; Sini Peninsula, Egypt

Yesterday we drove from Cairo to Port Said University to play a concert. We took the ferry across the Suez canal. This would be the first of four trips across the canal and I think that's probably a world record for any US Band;)

The hall started to fill up with students and they seemed so exited to share in the morning's event. We played our songs and they clapped and sang along as we interacted with them all morning. They played some Arabic songs for us and we were so impressed by their talent and
musicianship. Their ensemble consisted of students and faculty on guitars, bass, percussion, drumset, voice, oud and dulcimer etc. We joined them on one of their traditional songs and then they did some percussion solos and a flamenco type trio with two guitars and bass.
We spent so much time taking pictures and signing CDs with all the students. We have seen so much activity and made so many new friends on Facebook since yesterday. The faculty, staff and students made us feel so at home and we all had the best time. We ended with some early rock & roll and I never thought I'd hear a version of Jailhouse Rock that included an oud trading licks with Joe's electric guitar, while a dumbek, riq and a tar jammed out along with my drumset.

We were sad to leave the school, but we had to say our goodbyes and packed our gear in order to get to the next school.

We got back on the Ferry and went back across the Suez canal. We ate some amazing falafel and bean sandwhiches in the car on the way.
We got to the next school where we set up and played for some public school children who came after school to this private school as part of a US Embassy program. The students in this workshop were so smart, funny and talented. These students like most we've encountered in Egypt, could sing back almost any rhythm and melodic lick that we threw at them.

We signed more CDs answered questions and were so impressed with their english language skills.

We packed up our gear again and drive towards the ferry and took it across for the 3rd time now, back to the Sini peninsula. Here you can cross from the Africa side o Egypt to the Asia side. This area is right on he Mediterranean sea and the fishing and shipping industry has influenced the local musical culture as well.

We got on to Sini & did an unplugged setup at an outdoor beach cafe on the Mediterranean.

The children were mentored by some amazing local musicians who were teaching them the songs, rhythms and dances that are an important part of their historical musical culture. The songs were influenced by the local trading, fishing and farming. They touched our hearts with their singing, playing and dancing. We played with them on some of their music and they joined us on some of our music. We have some vids of them and I can't wait to put some up when we get more bandwith;)
It was an amazing day of sharing music, dance, food and laughter. I am so blessed to have been here in the Mid East, Africa and now Egypt with my bandmates, sharing all this love and happiness.

Ancient voices

The morning after we landed in Cairo, we hired a driver and a guide to take us to the Pyramids. As we drove out of town, our driver told us about his views on the current situation in Egypt and what had happened the previous evening. It was very enlightening to us and gave us an insight into the energy and the different voices in the country. We spoke about how most people around the world want the same things, such as; stability, security and decent wages. As we made our way along the banks of the Nile, we learned more about Egypt's history and it's road to independence. The scene outside the city is more rustic and not as populated.
As we got closer, we could see some pyramids in the distance. It seemed so surreal to me and maybe because it was still early for me, very much like a dream.

We payed for our entrance fee and started off towards our first stop, the Great pyramid.
The pyramids are so big, you really can't fit them into the viewfinder unless you are pretty far away.
Going into one of the three entrances on the Great pyramid
To say the sun was hot that day would be an understatement, we were of course in the desert again and water was a hot commodity;) Everytime we hopped in the van to go to the next stop, I would hope that it was really far away. Our guide carried an umbrella and I think he had the right idea.

This is one of my favorite band shots from the day! Its also one of the best views of the three largest and most famous stone structures on the planet.
We moved on to the Sphinx next and spent some time learning about the mummification process. This is probably the largest carving of a single stone in the world. After seeing so many pictures, cartoons and other portrayals of the Sphinx and Pyramids, I still wasn't prepared for the scope and size of these stone marvels.
We had fun taking pics in the columned chamber and learned more history about the Sphinx. We also met shrewd little business women, Nadia, who was so good at hawking souvenirs that we asked her to work for the band as our merchandiser.
She spoke at least 4 languages, went to school five days a week and then hawked bookmarks and postcards everyday after school.
She said she had to decline our offer because she couldn't leave her best friend or her mom behind;)
This is yet another example why I feel the women of the Middle East are on the rise to empowerment and are a voice that will be heard world wide. In general, I have seen young women in this part if the world, studying, working hard in college and taking care of everyone around them.
We have met so many talented female students who are excelling in music, media and so many different aspects of business. Here in Egypt, the male and female students are so great and have made us feel so weIcome. It's funny I had so many misconceptions about this part of the world and after coming here, I want to tell you that I have been amazed at the warmth, hospitality and how we have been recieved. I hope someday you can come see it for yourself. All of us around the world see and perceive each other through the eyes of the media and television etc. and when you let the misconceptions drop away, true acceptance can begin.

A small vision of Giza.

Joe - Egypt
The pyramid of Giza is on the far left. There are two cars on the road in the foreground.

A little closer. Giza on the left.

Much closer. A view of Giza with people climbing up one side.

Same view a little closer.

Even closer....

Notice the size of the blocks. On the average they are half the height of a human being. I know everyone has a theory as to how these pyramids were built but after seeing them, I'm not sure any of the theories are right. No, aliens didn't build the pyramids. People did. We build pretty amazing things right now. Why would we have needed aliens in the past?

What did these people believe in order to do this? Certainly it takes a unified vision and a lot of people to build something on this scale. But, these people must have believed in something very strongly in order to carry out such a grandiose vision.

I looked at the blocks very closely. Every single one is different. Every block is a different size and shape. They all approximate rectangular solids but there's a wide variance in the approximation. Somehow they got all of these different sizes and shapes to work together to create this massive testament to civilization. I wonder how much of what they believed in order to carry out this vision is true.

 I've used the words "we" and "they" a lot. And I think to myself...  we are they.