“We want to support outstanding young voices who have a message, and provide new spaces for artists that we believe express the people’s voice,” Raed Asfour, director of Al Balad Theatre , the organiser, told reporters on Sunday.
Concerts within the festival, which features artists from Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt and Algeria, will be held at the Odeon in downtown Amman, near the Roman Theatre.
“Culture and art began in this city at that place in the days of the Roman civilisation. With this festival, we want to bring back something they celebrated thousands of years ago,” Asfour said.
Speaking at the same press conference, Banna said festivals in the Arab region tend to focus on commercial artists, adding that she often felt she was sidelined because of her vocal support for Arab revolutions and her political activities.
“My invitation to Al Balad Music Festival gave me hope that there are those willing to give space for artists who dedicate their art for a cause,” Banna noted.
“Through my interaction with young Arabs, I have noticed they are now more interested in alternative music  than in commercial artists,” she added.
Banna will also be launching her album “Revelation of Ecstasy and Rebellion” at the festival.
Jordanian musician and oud player Tareq Al Jundi  said such festivals give exposure to local artists who are not on the radar of official festivals.
“There is no clear cut path for Jordanian artists, but if you look hard, you will find a way,” added Jundi, who will be performing on Wednesday.
“We need to convey our message and represent authentic Jordanian art that reflects our cultural identity,” he noted.
Jundi will be launching his album “Terhal” (travelling) at the festival.
The event, which continues through June 30, will feature two performances every day at 8:30pm and 9:00pm, except for Tuesday and Friday, when only Banna and Lebanese artist Tania Saleh will perform at 8:00pm, according to the organisers.
Prices for the tickets, which are available online on karasi.com , range between JD7 and JD20, according to Asfour.
The festival, organised in cooperation with the Greater Amman Municipality, the Tourism Ministry and the Jordan Tourism Board, will also include the Music Market, which is a platform to promote albums and recordings by emerging artists.
The market will offer free live performances by aspiring musicians, organisers said.
Al Balad Music Festival will also help young Arab artists connect with more experienced professional musicians to generate a conversation on Arab music.
In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, Asfour stressed that the festival’s line-up does not focus on a specific type of music.
“I’m against categorising. I believe in art that is dedicated to a certain cause; it doesn’t matter if it is rock, rap or oriental.”
by Rand Dalgamouni