For this project Rob Kramer artistic director of productiehuis Oost-Nederland (ON) invited Ad van Meurs, Haytham Safia and Anne-Maarten van Heuvelen; their assignment was to investigate a possible combination of folkblues 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. In the same way as Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie documented their era in the early 20th century, the instrumentalist is the torchbearer of a centuries-old tradition in the virtually unwritten Arabic music culture. Traditional Arabic music differs from other music cultures in the way in which the music scale is subdivided. Thus the music can adopt forms that are nearly impossible in the western octave system.
In the NO blues sessions the musicians soon succeeded in establishing a singular integration of folk-blues and Arabic music. A real cross-breeding we call ARABICANA.
The sessions were concluded in 2004 and in 2005 the HT studio was visited in order to record the first album “Farewell Shalabiye” under the supervision of Ankie Keultjes
AD VAN MEURS (guitar)
Ad van Meurs started his musical career in the 70s as pianist with the folk rock-band Deirdre. In 1982 he formed the successful new wave band W.A.T. who were uniquely remarkable because of their special fusion between the synthesizer and (slide) guitar. By 1988, armed with his guitar and rythmbox he soldiered on under the guise of The Watchman.
HAYTHAM SAFIA (Ud, Arabic lute)
is from Jerusalem. In 2001 he debuts as a performer in The Netherlands and acquires a firm position in a musical ensemble with which he accompanies modern dance company Galili dance.
ANNE-MAARTEN VAN HEUVELEN (double bass)
Anne-Maarten bought his first bass at the age of 15. His musical influence began with the blues but over the years he has been known to play jazz, punk, reggae and rock. After living and playing the gig circuit in New York he returned to the Netherlands as leadsinger and bass-player of the 50s style blues-band the Marbletones.