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.

3/28/2014: “Silt/طمي” Washington DC Album Release Party!

Hello Little East-Africa,

We wanted to tell you how much we love you, and how we can’t imagine a party without you. So since we can’t bring you to us, we will come to you! On Friday March 28th at 8pm, you are invited to join us at Tropicalia in Washington DC for our debut album release party. Opening the night for us is none other than D.C’s own DJ Underdog (OKAYAFRICA). Grab your tickets in advance and make sure you come out because we are in town for one night only!

WHAT: Alsarah & the Nubatones Washington DC Album Release Party
WHERE: TROPICALIA, 2001 14th St., NW. D.C.
TIX: $8 ADV || $12 DOOR

Out Today on 12″ Soukura Remix EP


Design: Maryam Parwana


Wonderwheel Recordings is proud to present the debut EP & a remix 12″ dubbed Soukura Remix EP for Alsarah & The Nubatones. Called “The New Star Of Nubian Pop” by The Guardian, the album, Silt was produced by Alsarah who describes the sound of Silt as “East African Retro Pop” – it’s music that harkens back to the hazy sounds of 1960s and 70s Nubian music with its haunting instrumentation, soaring vocal melodies, and pentatonic arrangements.

The original song “Soukura” a small taste of the upcoming album Silt (out on 3/11) gets a signature deep and entrancing Ancestral Soul remix by African house legend Boddhi Satva . Perennial Wonderwheel favorite The Spy From Cairo gives “Nuba Noutou” a dubby dancehall re-rub, and label head Nickodemus takes “Rennat” into late night house territory with his remix, letting only the slightest of vocals come through and build tension until the final moments of the tune.


3/13/2014: “Silt/طمي” NYC Album Release Party!

Dear friends (and strangers we make musical love to),

We are so excited to invite you to our debut album release party on Thursday March 13th at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn NY. If you are already a fan and have been with us since the start then you know we have been struggling to make this happen for a few years now, and this party is as much for you as it is for us. We couldn’t have done it without your support!

We have found a good home for our album with the boutique label Wonderwheel Recordings and this new musical family of ours will be joining us on stage spinning some tunes to warm your heart with the sounds of Nickodemus and DJ DRM. Also joining the Nubatones on stage will be our dear friends Brandon Terzic on Oud, Tali Hersh on Keys, and my darling sister Nahid on vocals. We will sing and play our hearts out for you, and then we will march our way across the street to Bémbé for their monthly iBomba party to dance the night away with you! So come out, bring your friends, your neighbors, and those random people you barely talk to on Facebook. It’s going to be a party!!!

WHAT: “Silt/طمي” NYC Album Release Party
WHEN: Thursday, March 13, 2014
WHERE: Baby’s All Right. 146 Broadway, Brooklyn NY
DOORS: 8pm   
TICKETS: $10 adv. | $15 door.
BUY TIX: http://silt.brownpapertickets.com/


Album Release: “Silt” / “طمي” out on 3/11/2014

Cover Design: Maryam Parwana || Photo: Carlos Ramirez

It’s officially time to tell you all the good news, our debut album titled Silt / طمي will be released world wide on March 11, 2014 on Wonderwheel Recordings. The Nubatones original composition Soukura (it’s late) is our first release off the album and you can enjoy listening to it below. You can also pre-order the album today on Vinyl, CD, or Cassette (yeah that’s right, I said cassette).


looking fwd, and back: 2013 recap

I am happy and grateful to say that 2013 has been the most exciting of my career so far. I travelled to places I never thought I would visit, I met inspiring musicians from so many parts of the world and made some beautiful projects along the way. I kicked off the year in Aswan, Egypt with The Nile Project in a 2 week residency bringing more than 17 musicians together from different parts of the Nile basin, followed by 2 weeks of performances around Egypt. Needless to say, it was one of the most enriching musical experiences for me and at the end of it we released a live recording from our first concert, titled appropriately after the city it all happened in, Aswan. The album went on to be named in the top 5 must-hear International albums of 2013 by NPR’s Anastasia Tisoulcas:”… the results are joyous and even raucous.

Shortly after, I travelled to Mogadishu, Somalia for the first music festival since the conflict began in the 1990s and music was officially banned in 2009. Called the Somalia Sunrise Concert Tour this open air festival fronted by the legendary somali hiphop group Waayaha Cusub and produced by Humanitarian Bazaar brought together an alliance of musicians from different parts of the world dubbed the Frontline Music Alliance. Here are some highlights:

Then I followed up with my new found friends that I met in Somalia and did a few shows in Nairobi with the band AfroSimba and Synergy Music Production (Kenya) founder Jamir Adiong, at the Blankets & Wine music series and Tree House Club

I returned home after all that travel and began finalizing the details for the release of my project Aljwal with french producer Débruit, released on 11/11 (my absolute favorite day of the year).This went on to be named one of the top ten favorite world music albums by NPR: “One of my very favorite finds this year…The album is compulsively listenable — and much of it is eminently danceable, like this track, “Sharara” (Spark).

video by Rainbowmonkey.

Wrapping up the year was the second annual secret music salon celebrating the iconic lebanese singer Fairouz‘s birthday. This year held at the Freebrook Mansion, the night featured the music of Omnia Hegazy, DJ Ushka, and The Fairouz Tribute band (Haig Manoukian, Rami El Aasser, Marandi Hostetter, Shelley Thomas, David Buchbut, Bridget Robins, Marissa Arciola, Brian Prunka, and yours truly Alsarah) ….here are some photos:

And to make matters more euphoric, 2014 is gearing up to be no less exciting than the last one. The Nubatones is due to release our first album in March of this year on the nyc based label Wonderwheel Records (but don’t tell anyone I told you that yet); there is another Nile Project tour due to take place over the next two months and I have been making bi-costal cyber musiking with LA based producer Captain Planet. More on that to come soon.


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