(via Interview: Violons Barbares @ Womad (July 2015) | Rhythm Passport)

“Violons Barbares, as their name suggests, are indeed a wild trio. To say these guys are virtuosic would be an understatement. We interviewed the two fiddlers and percussionist just after their highly entertaining and mind-blowing set on The Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage on a wet WOMAD Sunday afternoon.

As well as being amazing instrumentalists the addition of their superb vocal skills makes this ensemble into something that sounds much bigger than it is. The three are Mongolian Dandarvaanchig Enkhjargal (otherwise known as Epi), Dimitar Gougov from Silistra, Bulgaria and Fabien Guyot from France.

Epi is a true showman and the joker of the band As soon as he started posing for the band’s photo shoot in his beautiful Mongolian costume we could tell we were in for an entertaining ride. He plays the morin khoor, the two-stringed Mongolian fiddle decorated with a horse’s head with one male (made from a stallion’s tail) and one female string (taken from a mare). His vocal skills are astonishing. In a flash he can switch from the style of an Indian Qawwali singer to Bulgarian folksong, then that wonderfully grungy throat and overtone singing that is so distinctive of his own steppe country of Mongolia. Fabien Guyot, the ‘wild’ percussionist of the band also joins in on vocals and is an indispensable addition to the group with his incredibly diverse skills and unusual set-up of percussion instruments. Dimitar provides the Balkan element with traditional Bulgarian songs and fine fiddling on the gadulka, a bowed instrument with three playing and ten sympathetic strings….”

“Saulem ai” is on Amazon and iTunes.


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan passed away on this date 18 years ago. Despite his short life, he left behind an indelible legacy that continues to inspire listeners and performers alike. Most of us have the iconic Sabri Brothers’ qawwali “Tajdaare Haram”, and some of you may have heard the recent Coke Studio version by Atif Aslam. On Nusrat’s barsi, here is a very rare recording of Nusrat, accompanied by his uncles, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan and Salamat Ali Khan performing their version of the iconic kalaam. Nusrat’s father had passed away in 1964, and Nusrat joined and assumed leadership of the family Qawwal party soon after. This powerful recording is from 1968, when Nusrat was just 20 years old.


I had a public 1-on-1 #harmonium lesson today! #qawwali @grandperfs


I listened to this qawwali for the first time a few days back on life and its dark realities and was about to post these lines towards the end:

Jin azizon ke liye tu ne is duniya main dhan ko jora hai

Unheen ne laa ke andhere main tujh ko chora hai

Those relatives for whom you arranged and divided your wealth

Are the same relatives who left you alone in a dark grave

But immediately after that, as Aziz Mian never fails to disappoint, he turned it into a narrative of Karbala, Zindagani kya hai jaa kar Karbala waalon se pooch - Inquire of life from the martyrs of Karbala:

Pyaas ke maaron ki tapti rait par betaabiyan

Likh rahi hain zindagani ke liye shadabiyan

Dekh kar pewast Asghar ke gale main teer ko

Zindagi kuch aur bhi dilkash lagi Shabbir ko

The despair of the thirsty on the plains of Karbala

Continues to inscribe new meanings of life

Upon witnessing an arrow lodged in the neck of Ali al-Asghar

Life only became more charming in the eyes of Hussain

poem #7

just some messy thoughts.

the child claps her hands
in and out of time
to the poetry of waris shah
sung by three polychromatic women
sitting cross-legged like medieval mystics
weaving sensational tapestries
as tightly as their braids

the hands don’t come together perfectly
trying and trying
to connect
but bouncing off each other off balance
after a qawwali clap

in little hands
the elders see melanin infiltrates
see the stubbornness, the refusal of their culture
to yield, to bend, to break

in obstinancy i see
a poet’s lament
at innocence
turned into symbolism
at wonder
turned into an indictment
at insecurity
rending social fabrics

in polychromatic punjabi singing girls
i see waris shah’s heer
bleeding into amrita pritam’s daughters
i do not see myself
or the qajar portraits of sirens
who share her eyebrows
but not her DNA

i do not see the culture we seek
rippling in the wind like a mirage
like the headscarves of the girls in the movies
do when they fall in love
always with the wrong boy

i see a blindness to the composites
conformationally changing in our cells
from the first vibrations of music in our bones
to the last recited verse
and the final clap.


Song of the Day: Remix Qawwali from Bindaas because sometimes I actually fall in love with dance songs…