American Umm Kulthum

Here’s a vintage Love Note from 2013 (so it wasn’t last night, but 7 years ago ; ).

I’m not gonna lie, I went out and got drunk last night (and I’m a cheap date: one Lemon Drop and I was pretty happy :). I had gone to see my friend’s Al’s band play, and it was glorious.

They played music I love, standards like Mustang Sally and Black Magic Woman, but also music from the Allman Brothers that I hadn’t heard in years, Statesboro Blues and Whipping Post. Ahhh, such joy! I vividly remember back in the 70’s when we came out of the Fillmore East as dawn broke over the city skyline, because back then, bands really did PLAY ALL NIGHT.

Dancing joyously, I realized it is the songs of our own generation that speak to us—we know all the words, we can sing them in our sleep, and they make us happy. Of course, oldies stations are always popular for this reason, but there is more to it than that. These musicians jammed, long intricate improvisations, and the structural integrity of the songs, the remarkable skills of the musicians (technique being, as ever, the servant of expression), the deep blues influences, this was an authentic outgrowth of American music, and it expressed its generation as cogently as Umm Kulthum expressed hers.

If we want to really understand Oriental dance, we must bring its music into our hearts and souls as fully as the songs of our own youth. I remember a belly dancer (I wish I could remember who), who wrote that she was a cheerleader for the audience’s favorite songs as they sang along to the music of Umm Kulthum. She was perfectly fine with that—their joy spilled over onto her; she became part of it.

Al’s band is “just” a cover band playing forty-year-old songs as the audience hums along, dizzy with delight. They, too, bring the joy. And this music is part of my Umm Kulthum; I feel it in my heart and soul.

So tonight I present to you the music of my youth, The Allman Brothers, recorded live in 1971 at the Fillmore East. I was probably at these shows.

This is a playlist, but several of the songs are at, longer than, or close to 20 minutes, so you can just pick one if you like.


PS The Basic Bellydance Challenge is going on right now! There are lots of giveaways for participants (I’ve provided three, plus a coupon for Teachable classes), and watching the videos folks post on FB and IG is a lot of fun. Here’s my Day 3 video.

Local VT/NH folks, the live classes at the Grindstone Café in Lyndonville are Thursdays at 5:30PM Come dance and have fun with us!

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