With the aim of providing space for “the free expression of music”, the “Bala Feesh” (unplugged) monthly live music series was launched on Saturday night, with a unique collaboration between musicians from different backgrounds.
In the intimate, but unusual setting of the “Kharabeesh Living Room”, where the local animation company’s offices are located on Rainbow Street, Jordanian artists Hana Malhas and Odai Shawagfeh participated in a musical conversation with Algerian singer-songwriter Nedjim from the band Labess.
“Forget rules, labels, genres, languages — this is a place for the free expression of music,” Bala Feesh organisers wrote on their Facebook page.
“This has been my dream for a long time,” said singer-songwriter Malhas.
The artist, who calls Amman as well as the city of Ann Arbour in the US her home, refers to herself as a “nomad”, moving between those two worlds.
Her lyrics commute between English and Arabic, her idea of music as an encounter.
The venue itself was part of this discovery and adventure, with limited seats and a stage set up between working desks and tents, bringing the performers closer to the young audience.
“Bala Feesh is a series of intimate live shows that features independent musicians in the Arab world... caught on tape,” according to the organisers, who added that the shows give “a chance to experience the artist up close and personal”.
On the show’s first night, the three artists found common ground despite hailing from different musical backgrounds.
With her 2010 debut album, “Shapeshift”, Malhas already showed that music is not limited by boundaries of genre, time or space. “Shapeshift” was recorded with 17 American and Jordanian artists over two time zones.
“Music speaks the language of Babel,” a young member of the audience wrote on the event’s Facebook page after the show.
“Today was inspirational thanks to you guys,” she wrote to the artists.
In the end, it is only “for listeners. For storytelling. For a good time”, according to Bala Feesh crewmembers, who intend to continue this series of independent concerts during the summer.
By Pascale Muller