'NO Blues' Meshes Folk and Blues with Arabic Music

NO Blues (Netherlands) combining Arabic music with folk/blues

NO blues is the crossroad where folk-blues and Arabic music meet. In 2004 Ad van Meurs (guitar/ lead vocals), Haytham Safia (Oud, Arabic lute/ lead vocals) and Anne-Maarten van Heuvelen (double bass/ lead vocals) got together to combine American folk blues and traditional Arabic music. Both folk blues and the Arabic taqsim (the improvised interplay without a fixed rhythm) are exceptionally suited for storytelling; the former in a somewhat rawer way, the latter mostly lyrical and melodic.

The musicians soon succeeded in finding the crossroad where folk-blues and Arabic music meet. A fusion of Americana and Arabic music, which might best be portrayed as ‘Arabicana’. Heartfelt music with songs about ‘ordinary folks’, love and grief, played and sung in a tradition that is characteristic to both folk blues and Arabic music. Completing the line-up on stage, NO Blues is joined by Ankie Keultjes (vocals) and Osama Maleegi (percussion).

First CD by NO Blues: Farewell Shalabiye

In only three days of playing together, the songs of the first CD ‘Farewell Shalabiye’ [title track based on 'El Bent El Shalabiya' البنت الشلبية ] came into existence. The album was released by Rounder Records in 2005 and became an instant success.

Here is the title track from that album (http://youtu.be/X6hL1iiVYbs):

Here is a live version of NO blues performing 'Farewell Shalabiye' at Theather de Parade Den Bosch in 2011 (http://youtu.be/C_nnhUCxEC4):

Second CD by NO Blues: Ya Dunya [O World]

The second album called ‘Ya Dunya’ was released in February 2007. During the recording of this album, Tracy Bonham joined NO blues to record three songs. 

Here is the title track 'Ya Dunya' from that album (http://youtu.be/tmDPdOGSypI):

Third CD by NO Blues: Lumen
The third NO blues album ‘Lumen’ is another step in raising Arabicana as a new genre of heartfelt music with an Arabic soul. It reflects a world with diminishing boundaries and is a new step in blending people and traditions without losing its integrity.  On this album guest musicians Raphaela Danksagmüller plays the Duduk and Sophie Cavez ads an Balkan flavor with the accordion.

Here is the title track 'Lumen' from that album (http://youtu.be/9qxNhRFUBdo):

The Lumen album also included a reinvented version of the famous 'Fatoumeh' song--so popular in Arabic culture but originally based on an Armenian song. This version was titled 'Fatouma Truus' and sung in Hebrew and English.

The fourth CD by No blues: Hela Hela
On the fourth album ‘Hela Hela’ Van Meurs, Safia and Van Heuvelen show that they are true masters of the new genre they created.  On this album you can hear Palestinian guest musicians Morad Khoury on violin, and Shereene Danial as guest vocalist on the title track Hela Hela which is based on a traditional Arabic work song and an American counterpart. This is the ultimate fusion work song and an appeal to the world for working together.

Here is the title track 'Hela Hela' from that CD (http://youtu.be/TAY7XrFf4Hk):

Upcoming fifth CD by No blues: Kind of No blues
In 2012 NO blues got together and recorded twelve new tracks for a documentary series about the Arab Spring. The new songs soon became the next NO blues album. These instrumental tracks will be released in September 2013 on the fifth album, which will be called ‘Kind of NO blues’. In the meantime, you can download one of the twelve new studio recordings from their website every two weeks for free. See http://noblues.bandcamp.com/album/kind-of-no-blues

The web site www.noblues.nl includes much more info plus links to NO Blues on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

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