Some say that music is food for soul. A music exchange concert at the US Consulate in Jeddah last week might just help to bolster that claim.
The consulate hosted New York City’s “Clinton Curtis Band” as well as several Saudi bands and together they rocked the evening.
The New York band opened with their popular numbers, Muthanna and Rusty performed a medley of acoustic songs, while Ehab, Sayed and Abdullah played traditional Arabic songs on the oud and tabla.
The Clinton Curtis Band enthralled the crowds with fast-paced American tunes from genres as diverse as Jazz, Rock and Roll, blues, country, and reggae. While some of the songs they performed were popular American numbers, nearly half were original compositions written by Clinton Curtis.
US Consul General Anne S. Casper welcomed the audience, noting that the music of the Clinton Curtis Band united a wide range of musical influences, creating a modern interpretation of American roots music. She also mentioned that February is celebrated in America as “Black History Month” and that the US Consulate was proud to bring a band as diverse in its composition as in the tunes it played, celebrating the diversity of America in the cosmopolitan city of Jeddah.
Members of the Clinton Curtis Band have performed with the “Saturday Night Live” band as well as with Grammy-nominated artists, often taking their medley of music on the road around the world.
“With their music, they give a message of positivity and hope. One of the wonderful things they have done is recording and releasing an original song called “History of Dust,” the proceeds from which they donated to earthquake related aid efforts in Haiti,” the Consul General said.
The Clinton Curtis Band consists of Geoff Countryman (saxophone), Chris “Bones” Bonher (bass guitarist), Justin Levine (keyboard), Clinton Curtis (singer, writer and guitarist), and Drew MacLean (drummer). The artists told Arab News that this was their first time in Saudi Arabia and that they enjoyed the hospitality and atmosphere of the country. The band, which gave performances in Riyadh and Dhahran, concluded their tour in Jeddah.
“This was our first visit to the Kingdom. We loved playing for the people of Saudi Arabia and it was amazing to play with Saudi musicians in Jeddah and Riyadh who taught us some Arab melodies,” said Curtis.
Drew MacLean said they loved Arabic music and that he had already learned how to play the tabla and oud, giving him a chance to mix musical sounds from both the US and Saudi Arabia.
“I played the Arabic drum and a musician taught me how to play a split-time drum rhythm, similar to the Rumba. It was fun,” he said.The band members said they had a wonderful time in the Kingdom and that they were surprised with the different lifestyles in the three cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran, which helped them to understand the Saudi culture.
The group also explored various parts of Jeddah, and were especially delighted to visit downtown Balad.
They said they were impressed by Hejazi dances and met with Jeddah’s famous folklore group “Abu Siraj” and performed traditional “Fishermen” dance.
“We learned a lot about the history of Jeddah, the old buildings, the thousand-year old mosque, traditional tooth brushes and clothes, large markets and sculpture art that make Jeddah different from other cities in the world; we loved Jeddah in particular because of its diversity,” they said, adding that it was interesting to see how the whole town shuts down temporarily during the prayer time opening again after the prayer was finished.
While here, they said they had eaten their way through Jeddah and especially enjoyed the mango juice, lamb balls, shawarma and yogurt. If they get a chance to come back to the Kingdom, the band members said they would like to try out more traditional food of Saudi Arabia as “food and music are the first steps in cultural exchange.”
The group consists of part-time members as many of them are parts of other groups as well who play most nights and weekends in New York. Members of the core group have been doing international work for the past year and a half.
The Curtis band has performed in Turkmenistan and Colombia and their next stop is Brazil.
By FOUZIA KHAN.