Friday, February 18, 2011

I've Got Me Some Yemen... Blues

By: Dean Medina 

As soon as I heard that Ashkenaz is bringing Yemen Blues to town on Saturday February 26th I could barely contain my excitement. Something inside me began to stir and I felt a deep connection to this band whose songs I had never heard once, whose existence I was completely unaware of.

Who is this Yemen Blues? And why did the mere utterance of the name excite my mind and soul? 

Yemenite Jews are particularly proud of their place in Israel's history and of their strong traditions and culture which permeate daily Israeli lifestyle (ESPECIALLY with food and music). Now, I do not look Yemenite AT ALL- very dark, able to grow an afro, shortish- but I can assure you that my family history suggests otherwise. 

                                             Me                                                  Yemenite

According to the stories my grandfather was the closest of friends with the Prince of Yemen.Together they smuggled Jews from Yemen into Palestine (before the State of Israel was formed). Upon settling in Israel and until about four years ago my grandfather's restaurant, called Misada Medina in the heart of the Yemenite community in Tel Aviv, served the most delicious Yemenite food. 

My Yemenite grandmother however is the ultimate cook. To this day she makes the most delicious jachnun (a traditional Yemenite dish) and is storied for quietly battling the British occupation through her cooking. Want the full story? Ask me! 

mmmm... Jachnun

On a different note, the Medina family has taken its Yemenite roots and ingrained itself into the heart of music culture in Israel, most notably with Avihu Medina who is one of the most famous Yemenite singers in Israeli history. In general Yemenite Jews are known for their beautiful voices and their unique style of music. 

Avihu Medina- check out his music here

Ravid Kahalani, lead singer of Yemen Blues and member of the Idan Raichel Project, while not a member of my family, continues this great tradition of Yemen music with his most incredible voice and unique style. Combining traditional Yemen melodies with blues, jazz, funk and West African beats, the Yemen Blues bring to the music world something completely distinct and very exciting! Ravid has surrounded himself with some unreal musicians from all over the world.

To listen click HERE

I hope you can understand my affinity to the Yemen Blues and why I can not wait to hear them live at MOD Club Saturday February 26th for their North American Debut Tour. 

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door or if you are a student ONLY $15 with a student card. You can go to the Ashkenaz website to buy them: CLICK HERE for tickets.

Amazing stuff, you definitely don't want to miss it!!! 

1 comment:

  1. Love your work, Community Connect starring Dean Medina!
    See you at Yemen Blues.
    Love Team Ashky