The BAM review.
So far , this is the only US magazine with a substantial review of the trip that we have been able to find .
Its also the longest
piece by a band member that we have seen .
When we arrived in Egypt,
there was electricity in the air. -Hamza EI Din-(a Nubian Oud master
now a resident of California ) had gone to Cairo two weeks before and
had talked about the concerts on radio and TV, so there was a huge buzz
when we got there. The people couldn't imagine what we were proposing-they
couldn't imagine why we wanted to be there. They couldn't imagine why
we wanted to give the proceeds of the shows to the Cairo Museum of the
Antiquities, the Faith and Hope Society [Madame Sadat's charity far
deaf and blind children], and to an organization that was building a
soccer field for the children of Ghiza. How do you describe "trips"
to an Egyptian?The journey was special and something we took very seriously.
It wasn't a "whim," as some have described it. You don't spend $500,000
on a whim. This was something that we'd wanted to do for years. Without
sounding too mystical, I'd say we felt drawn there.
and we said,
We came here to play for you and to move you. We know that if we play well, we will, and if we play poorly, we won't.
One of the high points of our concerts was the music which was created. The evenings opened with Hamza playing his Oud, a 12 string instrument which was a predecessor of the Lute. He was joined by ten Nubian hand clappers and ten tarists ( a tar is a Nubian drum ) and singers from the Abu Simbel Club of Cairo, a social club dedicated to cultural preservation of local music forms. The Nubians began to dance , play and sing and I joined them with my Tar on a 12 beat composition called Ollin Arageed ( which appears on Hamza's just released LP on the Pacific Arts label ). This began the segue into the Grateful Dead set. After 24 beats , Garcia joined on guitar with the melody , followed by the rest of the band. Here we were , together , playing with this new music created specially for that moment!
The Grateful Dead isn't the seven members of the band, but rather the music they find and create as an ensemble . Usually, the first set each night is us warming up and the second set is GRATEFUL DEAD music - the ensemble peaking . Each night we have to find out who the Grateful Dead is for ourselves . It varies from night to night . In Egypt we tried to give the audience two Grateful Dead sets instead of the warm up set and then Grateful Dead.
Certainly, if we're "up" for a certain situation, the magic the band can create comes
easier. We were "up" for Egypt, of course, and the magic did happen. But it didn't happen
in an avalanche- it was more subtle. There were technical difficulties, Kreutzmann [the Dead's other drummer] had a broken hand, and basically, we went into the concerts not running on all cylinders.
The crowds were open; they wanted to hear what we had to say and they wanted to boogie. You could tell they were ready for electric music. But they'd never seen that much equipment, or heard music that loud or experienced the intensity of this sort of live performance. They'd heard Western music on cassette machines in Cairo- mainly disco they'd never faced this kind of concert situation.
Part Three :Healy and the Kings Chamber sound mix