“Beats of the Antonov” TIFF ’14 People’s Choice Award Winner


Last year I took a trip to the refugee camps in Maban, South Sudan to work alongside sudanese filmmaker and Refugee Club founder, Hajooj Kuka. He was working on a documentary about the war in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains of Sudan. He had initially thought the project would merely be about the desperate state of the refugees and the situation in the camps. However when he arrived he quickly discovered a 3 dimensional person instead of the stereotypical ‘victim’ he expected to find. He found a people determined to not merely survive but to live fully and protect their culture fiercely. He found music, rich complex and innovative. After his first trip we met up in Cairo and I saw some of the footage and decided to go back out there with him to get a closer look at the music and its role in this story of displacement.
Along with finding answers about the Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains refugees, we found questions to be asked of all the Sudans, both north and south. What does it mean to be Sudanese? Why have we been in back to back civil wars since our independence? What is Sudanese music? who gets to decide all these things?

Beats of the Antonov saw its world premiere at TIFF ’14 and was selected as the winner for the prestigious People’s Choice Award.

Along with the documentary we are also planning on releasing an album of field recordings that I gathered while out there. I am currently also curating an EP of remixes by some of my favorite producers. More info on both will be coming soon, in the meantime enjoy some samples from the field recordings:

Sep 19, 2014: The Return to Little East-Africa w/ special guest Feedel Band – Washington DC

Aug 15, 2014: Debruit & Alsarah LIVE @ the 303 – NYC


Aug 8, 2014: Debruit & Alsarah LIVE @ theLIFT – LA


“Aljawal” Europe Tour: May 28 – June 30

So following the release of our album, Aljawal, Débruit and I will be on tour in Europe this summer May 28 – June 30th 2014. If you are anywhere near by please come out and join us for some good music, hot weather, and good times.

28/05 Poitiers – Le Confort Moderne – FR
05/06 Strasbrg – Contre-temps, electrogroove festival-FR
06/06 Rorschach – Treppenhaus Rorschach – SWI
07/06 Gothenburg – Clandestino Festival – SWE
08/06 Stockholm – Official Fasching Site – SWE
12/06 Barcelona – Sonar Festival Official Page – SP
13/06 Lille – La Cave aux Poètes – FR
19/06 Brussels – Bonnefooi Brussels – BEL
21/06 Bologna – Parco del Cavaticcio – IT
26/06 Larz – Fusion Festival – GER
27/06 Odense – PHONO festival – DEN
28/06 Malmo – Sommarscen Malmö – SWE
30/06 Sete – Worldwide Festival – FR

5/11/14: Second Sundays w/ Alsarah & the Nubatones, MELAZA, and Bruno Levy & Deantoni Parks

Second Sundays Series @ Pioneer Works

A few weeks ago our friend Olivier Conan (responsible for all the wonderful programing over at Barbés, as well as part of the phenomenal psychedelic cumbia band Chicha Libre) reached out to me to tell me about this amazing new series he is curating down in red hook at Pioneer Work, Center for Arts and Innovations. Every second sunday the gallery and all its studios open up their doors with live music and performances throughout the space. This Sunday, May 11 2014 Alsarah & the Nubatones will be sharing the night with the formidable 14-piece salsa dura band MELAZA, along with the amazing Bruno Levy & Deantoni Parks. Doors open at 5pm, show starts at 7pm, and entrance is FREE. So come out, wander the galleries, drink the wine and bring all your friends!

PS. If you’re a nerd like me, then there is a wonderful and unique little discussion at 4pm that you should also try to attend on the Existential Mathematics of Vertigo led by Laurent Derobert. The algebra of feelings basically. I’m not making any promises, but this could be the answer to everything.

WHAT: Second Sunday Series w/ Alsarah & the Nubatones, MELAZA, and Bruno Levy & Deantoni Parks

WHEN: Sunday, May 11, 2014

4PM Existential Mathematics of Vertigo
Open Studios
7PM Alsarah & the Nubatones
8PM Bruno Levy & Deantoni Parks
8.30PM 14-piece Salsa Dura band MELAZA

WHERE: Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer St. Brooklyn NY 11231
COVER: FREE (suggested donations)


5/2/14: Young Traditionalists Rocking Their Roots: The Pete Seeger Tribute Concert

 On Friday May 2, 2014 the Brooklyn Arts Council’s Folk Arts is hosting another amazing event in their festival The Sweetest Song, this time in honor of the great folk legend Pete Seeger. This will  not be your typical tribute show where we all go up there and do covers of Pete Seeger. In fact it will be a line up of brilliant young traditionalists pushing the boundaries of our traditions. I am so very  honored that the Nubatones has been selected to be a part of this line-up and can’t wait to rock the stage along with Flor de Toloache led by Mireya Ramos; Palestinian wedding singer Anas  Tabash; American singer of Rwandan and Ugandan descent, Somi; and Sephardic singer Samuel Thomas with his ASESA. It’s a free show, so come out and bring all your friends!!

WHAT: Young Traditionalists Rocking Their Roots: The Pete Seeger Tribute Concert

WHERE: Brooklyn Music School, Auditorium Theater.
126 Saint Felix St. Brooklyn NY (ft greene)

WHEN: Friday, May 2 2014 @ 7pm-9:30pm



VOTE for US: power to the audience members

photo by Maryam Parwana

So the Lincoln Center is doing this really cool thing where they get awesome local new yorkers (that’s you) to vote for their favorite local musicians that they would like to see at their local library (that’s us). Now if you’ve come to my secret music salons in the past then you know how excited I get about the whole community driven grass-roots initiatives thing. So please take 15seconds (depending on how good your broadband is) to vote to bring us to your local Queens Central Public Library.


You can also vote for other amazing artists to come to other public libraries around new york. Below is a list of all nominated musicians:

Eva Salina @ Forest Hills Library (Queens)
Zlatne Uste @ Brooklyn Library (Grand Army Plaza)
Zikrayat a@ Macon Library (Brooklyn)
Zikrayat @ Broadway Library (Queens)
Dr. Zsa’s Powdered Zydeco Band @ Cambria Heights Library (Queens)
Choban Elektrik VS. Uri Sharlin’s Dogcat Ensemble @ Ridgewood Library (Queens)






Defiance on Oud: Rest In Power Haig Manoukian

On Wednesday, April 2 2014 master oud player, luthier, and founding member of the Nubatones Haig Manoukian passed on from this world to the next after battling cancer for many years, just a couple of weeks shy of his 73rd birthday. It took many days to be able to get this post up because nothing I could ever say would adequately describe the beauty of this man’s spirit, and the amount of love and respect I have for him. I met Haig in 2004 on my very first paying gig in NYC, singing for a greek dance company no less. I was young, inexperienced, and practically paralyzed by bouts of stage freight whenever I went on stage. Haig took me under his wing, saw beyond all that to my core and the passion that boiled in it for music, and taught me the real meaning of being a musician (which for the record they don’t teach you in music school). He was a friend, a mentor, a bandmate, and the most influential musical presence in my life.

Haig was a deeply private man and never trusted the digital age. He never had a cellphone, an email or a computer of his own to his dying day. So he may very well be the most talented Oud player the cyber world never heard of. He played in the NYC middle-eastern music scene professionally since the late 1970s. After his passing his wife Michelle started a Facebook Fan Page for him in an attempt to gather any recordings anyone may have of him out there. So if you have any recordings or photos of Haig please share it on his page so we can accumulate a record of his long history in the middle-eastern music scene in the US (especially from the Fairouz Music Salon last November).

Please enjoy this recording of Haig from our last studio session together recording the Silt album for the Nubatones.

VIDEO: Soukura – Official Music Video (Premiers on SPIN)

Thanks to the incredibly talented Maryam Parwana, who directed and edited this, we were able to release an official music video for our single “Soukura (it’s late)” last week on SPIN.