Sunday, April 29, 2012

Meet Lebanon's Mike Massy: A Musician/Singer with a Style of His Very Own

MIKE MASSY (Info below taken from Mike Massy's website at

Mike Massy is noted for his vocal and pianistic distinctiveness, and intuitive talent. He revisits the Lebanese Oriental music, proposing a unique fusion between the passion for Andalusia, baroque harmonies, and jazz rhythms. Songwriter, film score composer, performer and actor, Mike Massy was born in 1982 in Lebanon, and grew up fascinated by the inimitable voice of Fairuz, the nostalgic melodies of Zaki Nassif, and the poetry and authenticity of Brel’s and Aznavour’s texts.

Mike's second album 'Ya Zaman' is receiving rave reviews and includes an amazing mix of gems that make this album both unique and distinctly alternative. Here is a short documentary on the making of the album (C) falak productions

Here is a Live Studio Recording of an Oriental Improvisation on "Nature Boy" by Mike Massy (Vocal) and Osama Abdulrasol (Qanun):

Here are three video clips that were filmed for two of Mike Massy's songs from his CD Ya Zaman. The first is for the song "Khalasna Ba'a" (with English subtitles) and "Law Fiyyi Tir" (with English Subtitles)

Here is my review of Mike Massy's CD Ya Zaman which was recently added to KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM's Playlists.  Review can also be accessed at

Mike Massy / Ya Zaman/ Reviewed by Ramzi Salti, Ph.D.
Album:Ya ZamanCollection:World
Artist:Mike MassyAdded:05/2012
Label:Falak Productions

Recent Airplay
1.Thu, 03 May:Ramzi S.

Album Review
Ramzi S.
Reviewed 2012-05-03 
Mike Massy Ya Zaman 2012
-- All Tracks are FCC CLEAN --
With Middle-Eastern roots, and hungry for the harmonious elegance of the West, Mike Massy is noted for his vocal and pianistic distinctiveness, and intuitive talent. He revisits Lebanese Oriental music, proposing a unique fusion between the passion for Andalusia, baroque harmonies, and jazz rhythms.

**1. Ya Zaman (Oh Time): Great drum beat, oriental tune, kaman, qanun, nice lyrics about time that has passed, leaving regret behind. 4:17
2. Jazr W Mad (Ebb and Flow): Sounds like a Tango, abrupt stops, lyrics about waiting for things to happen. 3:42
3. Law Fiyyi Tir (If I could fly) Piano intro then hypnotic sound of flute which goes well with Mike’s vocals. 3:54
**4. Soti Hareb Menni (My voice is fleeing from me): Duet with Lubna Noman; sad melody with sound of piano, violin, bass, strings, eastern instruments,; Mike’s voice comes in during last part of this track. 3:33
5. Khalasna Ba’a (Enough): Starts slow but picks up speed; most lively track on CD. This song was released as single with a video clip. 3:08
**6. Ya 3mr Lma Naterni: (Life wait for me) Sounds like a string quartet which is gradually accentuated by different instruments. 3:52
7. Min Elli 2al (Who said?!): Mike sings with a piano only. Lyrics talk about memories and pain. Melancholic and soft tune that lulls the listener. 5:51
8. Beirut (Beirut): Song has no striking beat or lyrics but Mike’s vocals seem fragile and tender. An ode to the capital of Lebanon with chants in background. 3:40
**9. Ya 3achikat Al Ward (Roses lover): Sung in classical Arabic. This is an old classic rearranged and revamped by Mike. A tribute to his mother. 4:42
10. Day2 Fiyyi Chebbaki (My window is closing in): Starts with a woman speaking Arabic (Lebanese dialect) to Mike who responds by singing. Slow, soft tune that picks up and starts sounding Polish or gyspsy-like. 3:32
**11. Ghayyer Lawn 3yonak (Change the color of your eyes): Song about wanting to forget a lost love but cannot forget the color of their eyes. Strong bass, piano, tender lyrics. 3:30
12. Kamshat Wara2 (Bunch of Papers)” This is a bonus track. Strings and guitar. Lyrics about letters written in faded ink. 4:33

My favs: 1, 4, 6, 9, 11 Ramzi Salti

Track Listing
1.Ya Zaman7.Min Elli 2al
2.Jazr W Mad8.Beirut
3.Law Fiyyi Tir9.Ya 3achikat Al Ward
4.Soti Hareb Menni10.Day2 Fiyyi Chebbaki
5.Khalasna Ba'a11.Ghayyer Lawn 3yonak
6.Ya 3mr Lma Naterni12.Kamshat Wara2

Lebanese Film 'OK, Enough, Goodbye' Screening at SF Intl Film Festival

The Lebanese film 'OK, Enough, Goodbye' طيّب خلاص يلا is screening several times at the San International Film Festival which is currently taking place in the bay area. The film screens on Apr 20 and 29 at the Kabuki (SF) and on Tue, May 1 at 8:50 at the PFA (Berkeley).

PLOT (source:
A middle-aged pastry shop owner in Lebanon, looking like an escapee from a film by Judd Apatow, is the unlikely protagonist of this marvelously crafted deadpan comedy. Business is so bad he is constantly giving away the pastries, although he seems to be the only one who wants to eat them. One day, his crabby mother, with whom he still lives, packs up and leaves without explanation. Left on his own, he searches cluelessly for maternal substitutes, meanwhile reluctantly befriending the ten-year-old rascal next door obsessed with toy guns. A friend cajoles him into hiring an Ethiopian maid to keep house for him. But lacking a common language with the woman, she ends up absurdly hanging around in a sullen mood doing nothing. Filmmakers Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia paint a picture of the overgrown small town of Tripoli with an understated, documentary-like brush, revealing a town bereft of culture and filled with peevish, dissatisfied characters, where friendly prostitutes troll for customers using text messaging. The directors’ astute attention to detail induces laughter of recognition and sympathy for these endearingly dysfunctional residents, unaware of their starring role in the human comedy.—Miguel Pendás

Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia have collaborated on many short films to date—fiction, nonfiction and music videos—which have screened at many festivals.From the Parapet was a regional finalist at the 32nd Annual Student Academy Awards in 2005, and Almost Brooklyn was made in a directing workshop under the supervision of acclaimed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. Tripoli, Quiet received the Black Pearl Award for Best Middle Eastern Short at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in October 2009. OK, Enough, Goodbye. is their feature film debut

Lebanon/United Arab Emirates, 2010, 91 min
CREDITSdirRania Attieh, Daniel Garcia
prodRania Attieh, Daniel Garcia
scr Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia
cam Daniel Garcia
editor Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia
mus Daniel Garcia
cast Daniel Arzrouni, Nadimé Attieh, Walid Ayoubi
sourceIsilay Yanbas.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 26 'Arabology' Podcast Ft. Poetry Readings by Lizzie Harmon and Andrew Clauson

Pictured (top row to bottom): Marwa Farag, Lizzie Harmon, Andrew Clauson, DJ Ramzi, Ahmad Qousi
To download/listen to this show, go to 

The April 26 Podcast of Arabology (Season 2 Episode 3) features my interviews with Stanford students Lizzie Harmon--who recites and translates a poem by Nizar Qabbani--and Andrew Clauson who talks about his reads and discusses a poem by Ahmad Shawqi (see below for more details about these poems).

Show also features a live interview with Egyptian Standord student Marwa Farag, (Features Editor for "The Stanford Daily" and Co-President of the Arab Student Association at Stanford) who discusses her views on the Egyptian revolt and her identity as an Egyptian student at Stanford.

Show also includes a ticket giveaway to a concert by Aswat and songs by Mashrou' Leila, Darine Hamze, Emel Mathlouthi, Souad Massi, Fairuz, DAM, Jadal, YAS, Miryam Saleh (ft Zeid Hamdan), Trio Joubran, Omar Offendum, Aswat, and Adonis.

To Download/listen to this episode, go to

During this episode, Stanford student Elizabeth (Lizzie) Harmon recited a poem by Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani titled "الحاكم والعصفور" [The Ruler and the Sparrow] and then read her own translation of the work. Below the pictures is the poem in Arabic; to hear Lizzie's translation, you will have to hear the episode at THIS LINK.

Lizzie Harmon and DJ Ramzi Salti

Here is the poem by Nizar Qabbani that Lizzie read on the show:

الحاكم والعصفور

نزار قباني

أتجوَّلُ في الوطنِ العربيِّ

لأقرأَ شعري للجمهورْ

فأنا مقتنعٌ

أنَّ الشعرَ رغيفٌ يُخبزُ للجمهورْ

وأنا مقتنعٌ – منذُ بدأتُ –

بأنَّ الأحرفَ أسماكٌ

وبأنَّ الماءَ هوَ الجمهورْ

أتجوَّلُ في الوطنِ العربيِّ

وليسَ معي إلا دفترْ

يُرسلني المخفرُ للمخفرْ

يرميني العسكرُ للعسكرْ

وأنا لا أحملُ في جيبي إلا عصفورْ

لكنَّ الضابطَ يوقفني

ويريدُ جوازاً للعصفورْ

تحتاجُ الكلمةُ في وطني

لجوازِ مرورْ

أبقى ملحوشاً ساعاتٍ

منتظراً فرمانَ المأمورْ

أتأمّلُ في أكياسِ الرملِ

ودمعي في عينيَّ بحورْ

وأمامي كانتْ لافتةٌ

تتحدّثُ عن وطنٍ واحدْ

تتحدّثُ عن شعبٍ واحدْ

وأنا كالجُرذِ هنا قاعدْ

أتقيأُ أحزاني..

وأدوسُ جميعَ شعاراتِ الطبشورْ

وأظلُّ على بابِ بلادي


كالقدحِ المكسورْ

This episode also includes my interview with Stanford student Andrew Clauson who spoke about his Arabic studies and his stay in Syria and Jordan.  Andrew also read and discussed a poem by Ahmad Shawqi titled الديك والثعلب [The Roooster and teh Fox] which I am including below these pictures:

DJ Ramzi (left) interviewing Andrew Clauson

Andrew Clauson reciting Ahmad Shawqi

Here is the poem by Ahmad Shawaqi that Andrew recited on the show.  To hear Andrew's recitation, listen to the episode at  THIS LINK:

قصة الثعلب و الديك
احمد شوقي

بـَرَزَ الثعـــْـــلَبُ يوماً *** في شـِعـــار الواعـِظيـنا
فـَمـَشى في الأرضِ يـَهــْـدي *** ويـَســُـبُّ المـاكرينا
ويقول: الحـــَــــمـْد لله *** إلـــَـــه العالــــَــمينا
يا عـــِـــباد الله توبوا *** فـَهو كـَهـْف ُ التــائبينا
وازهـَدوا في الطـَيـْر إن الـ *** عـَيـْش عـَيـْشُ الزاهـِدينا
واطـْلـُبوا الديـــك يؤذن *** لصـَـلاة الصـُـبـْح فينا
فأتَى الديك َ رَســــُــولٌ *** مـِن إمــام الناســــكينا
عـَرَضَ الأمرَ عـَلـَيـْـهِ *** وهو يـَرجـــو أن يـَلينا
فأجـــــاب الديـكُ عـُذْراً *** يا أضــَـل المهـْتـَدينا
بـَلـِّـغ الثـَعـْلـَبَ عـَنـي *** عـَنْ جـُدودي الصالحـــينا
عن ذَوي التـِيجان مـِمـَّن *** دَخــَــلَ البـَطـْنَ اللعينا
إنهم قـــالوا وخـَيـْرُ الـ *** قـَوْلِ قـَـوْلُ العـــارفينا
" مـُخـْطـِئ ٌمـَنْ ظـَنّ يـَومـاً *** أنَ لِلثـَعـْـلَبِ ديـــنا "

This episode also included my live interview with Marwa Farag who is the Features Editor for "The Stanford Daily" and Co-President of the Arab Student Association at Stanford.  Marwa discussed her views on the Egyptian revolt and her identity as an Egyptian student at Stanford.  Here are some pictures from Marwa's segment.  To hear the show go to  THIS LINK:

Marwa Farag at KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM

Marwa Farag with DJ Ramzi Salti

To Download/listen to this episode, go to:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tahrir's Troubadours

Meet the Muslim and Christian musicians singing their message of peace and unity in the tent city protest now occupying Cairo's Tahrir Square.

For more on Fouad Hady's report, go to the SBS Dateline website...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Democratic Transition and Development in the Arab World (Stanford)

The third annual conference of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy is taking place at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law on April 26 and 27, 2012. The conference, Democratic Transition and Development in the Arab World, is free and open to the public and will take place at the Bechtel Conference Center at Stanford University. Notable academics and activists will convene to discuss a new integrated framework for development post Arab Spring. To RSVP and learn more about the conference, please refer to their website.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Podcast from April 16 'Arabology' (Season 2 Epsiode 2) Available

The April 19th episode of my 'Arabology' radio show includes my exclusive interview with Fadi Quran, the Palestinian Stanford graduate from the West Bank and U.S. citizen whose arrest in Hebron in February 2012 for allegedly pushing an Israeli soldier was caught on tape--causing an outcry at Stanford and abroad.

The show also included music by Rahim AlHaj, Sabine, Emel Mathlouthi, Darine Hamze, Joubran Trio, DAM, and many others (see playlist below).


Fadi Quran Interviewed on 'Arabology' (April 19, 2012)

Interviewing Fadi Quran at Stanford, April 16, 2012

The April 19th episode of my 'Arabology' radio show included my exclusive interview with Fadi Quran, the Palestinian Stanford graduate from the West Bank and U.S. citizen whose arrest in Hebron in February 2012 for allegedly pushing an Israeli soldier was caught on tape--causing an outcry at Stanford and abroad.  To listen to the episode (which includes the full interview in 2 parts) click here.



Fadi Quran graduated from Stanford in 2010 with a double major--a BS in Physics and BA in International Relations--and is currently pursuing a Masters degree with a focus on Constitutional Law and Revolutions at Birzeit University. He has also been working in the alternative energy field while remaining a big advocate of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

In 2011, Time Magazine called Quran “the face of the new Middle East,” To read that piece click here.

To read more about Fadi Quran, including pieces from the Stanford Daily about his arrest and eventuial release, see links below:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Arab Satire Night at Stanford : A Huge Success

The Arab Satire Night at Stanford University was attended by a packed audience that came to laugh at/with the lighter side of the Arab Spring.  Congrats to Ahmed Benchemsi and Lina Khatib plus all the students who helped make the event such a success.  From Egypt to Tunisia to Syria and more, we were all treated to a much needed dose of laughter with substance.

Here are some pictures from the event:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rahim Alhaj w/ Issa Malluf to Perform in Berkeley on May 5, 2012

Rahim Alhaj w/ Issa Malluf
Saturday, May 05, 8:00 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm)
Iraqi oud virtuoso/composer’s traditional Iraqi maqam with contemporary styling
$24.50 advance / $26.50 at door
Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
2020 Addison Street / Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 644-2020 /

Twice Grammy-nominated oud virtuoso and composer, Rahim Alhaj finds in his ancient instrument a unique voice that speaks passionately to contemporary listeners of every musical background. Born in Baghdad, Rahim creates music that delicately combines traditional Iraqi maqamat(melodic modes) with contemporary stylings and influences, translating into intensely lyrical music the suffering, joy, and determination that he has experienced in his life as an Iraqi, a political refugee, and today as an American citizen. Maintaining a subtle dialogue of Eastern and Western sounds, his compositions flow gracefully from high-spirited, virtuosic displays to delicately nuanced pieces, establishing new concepts without altering the foundation of traditional Iraqi oud music. Palestinian-American percussionist, Issa Malluf, accompanies tonight's performance.

Rahim studied the oud (six-stringed lute), one of the principal traditional instruments of the Arab world, under famed musicians Munier Bashir and Salim Abdul Kareem at the Institute of Music in Baghdad. Forced into exile in 1991, he taught and performed throughout the Middle East before relocating to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since coming to the United States, Rahim has released several recordings, two of which earned him Grammy nominations. His most recent recording, Little Earth, symbolizes his global vision with a selection of duets with far-flung musicians—from guitar master Bill Frisell to Cape Verde vocalist Maria de Barros—united by his unique musical vision.

Visit Rahim Alhaj's website

Marcel Khalife in Concert at U.C. Berkeley

Marcel Khalife: Fall of The Moon-Homage To The Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish
Zellerbach Hall, University of California,Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

The Arab Cultural and Community Center ( and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies ( Present Lebanese Master Marcel Khaliféand Al Mayadine Ensemble who will perform the prophetic poems of the Arab World's most renowned and beloved poet, Mahmoud Darwish, in tribute to the Arab Spring.
Resonating across the Arab world from the Middle East to North Africa, resounding above the din of conflict and poverty, Mahmoud Darwish's poetry ( Marcel Khalife's melodies ( sing instead of the shade of grapevines, the bright eyes of loved ones, the heartache of divisions and decline that can be healed, and love that can be returned.
Marcel Khalifé, internationally renowned Lebanese master of the oud (Arabic lute), evokes this world, honoring the spirit of his late friend and associate Mahmoud Darwish. Mahmoud Darwish was a strikingly original Palestinian poet. Born in Palestine, exiled in 1948, his poetry has been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide and extensively published in the US.
Khalifé's new concert program, Fall of the Moon: An Homage to Mahmoud Darwish, revisits and re-imagines the ties that bound these two powerful advocates of Arab culture, a culture that weaves the rich complexities of its great history and diverse cultures with the humanity and longing of today, and deeply expressed by the dawn of the current monumental Arab Spring sweeping the Arab world.

Sunday Apr 22, 2012 7:00 PM

Prices:  $20.00 - $80.00

Location:  Zellerbach Hall, University of California,Berkeley (View Venue)

Zellerbach Hall, U C Berkeley Campus

Berkeley, CA 94720

United States

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fadi Quran Speaks at Stanford on April 16, 2012

A fascinating discussion occured on Monday, 4/16 at 7 PM at Stanford University featuring recent Stanford Grad and Palestinian FreedomRider Fadi Quran (who just six weeks ago was arrested by Israel in the course of a peaceful protest in the West Bank), MLK's lawyer Clarence Jones (who compared the 'Freedom Rides' to his experiences in the Civil Rights movement in a recent piece) and Co-Director of the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation Allen Weiner. 

Here are some pictures from the event:

Omar Shakir, Clarence Jones, Fadi Quran, Allen Weiner

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Podcast from Second Season Debut Episode of My Radio Show 'Arabology' Available

Jan 19, 2012 Podcast: Arabology (Season 2 Episode 1 Premiere) 

The Second Season Premiere of 'Arabology' features DJ Ramzi playing and discussing alternative music from the Arabic speaking world including tunes by Joubran Trio, Darine Hamze, Jadal, Rami Khalil, Rahim Alhaj, and a special spotlight on the soundtrack to the controversial Lebanese film 'Beirut Hotel.' Show also features recorded poem by Rodaina El Filali.



10th Anniversary of Dr. Ramzi Salti's Arabology Program Features All Episodes on Soundcloud + YouTube (Click here)

All 13 seasons of Dr. Ramzi Salti's  Arabology  podcasts  are now available on Soundcloud, for a total of 101 episodes. Additionally, al...