observations and reflections...
Filed under: trip to the middle east
Posted by: @ 5:15 am
Note: I changed servers in 2010 and as a result I took my blog down. On this page I put all my original entries, photos and comments, although you can no longer comment on these entries. If you would like to see the entries in chronological order start from the bottom of the page and scroll up. It might take a bit to load all the images, but hopefully will be worth the wait.
This is the blog of my trip to the middle east. My name is Nick Demopoulos and I am the guitar player with Exegesis. The countries we visited are Bahrain, Yemen, Oman, U.A.E and Kuwait. On this blog are many interesting pictures of our trip. Some of my favorites are of the old citites in Yemen and of the beaches and landscapes in Oman.
To use this blog click on the date of the entry you wish to view on the calendar to the lower left. You can also go back to February to select dates from that month. I think the first entry in on feb. 17.
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Kuwait is an amazing place. I didnt realize how small the country is. It seems more like a city state than a country. The people are very friendly and the city is easy to explore and to get around.
here are some pics from our gigs in Kuwait. We did two shows at the Jazz Hotel, which is where we stayed as well.
Exegesis made an appearance on Good Morning Kuwait
Tomas seemed a little confused
What the hell am i talking about?
Alcohol is illegal in Kuwait. If you want a head rush you have find other ways. Some people like to smoke shee-sha
some people smoke cigars
some great people we met at our gig who showed us around town.
where else could we have stayed.
Kuwait is known for having huge malls
I didnt need to know Arabic to figure out that this said Ikea
Pres and Vice Pres of Kuwait
Tomas showing some young drummers some snare drum technique during a workshop at a school
A class of we performed for and talked to
some students sat in with us
Mike signing autographs after our workshop
We did a workshop at another shcool in Kuwait. We decided to set up so that we were surrounded by students.
after the workshop with some students.
I have the blues. more cigar smoking
more UAE pics
I received some more pics from our trip to UAE. thanks Mara Anderson for the great pics.
jamming at a school of higher technology
Me trying to play some jazz licks over some arabic music
getting introduced by the student body president of the mens and womens college of higher technology in Fujairah
Exegesis hanging out in the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai
United Arab Emirates
In this country, hands down, we stayed in the best hotels. at times on the beach!
view from my hotel room balcony
sitting modestly in a display case, i spied some greek pottery from 400 b.c. in a hotel lobby.
rapping at a press conference
this is a video still from our gig in Abu Dhabi
some students i had a chance to speak with. we spoke about the differences between our cultures and our lives. it was really informative. they were very intelligent and articulate. it was a rare opportunity to ask questions and to try and find out what it is like to grow up in an arab country
some students played a concert at a school that we performed at later in the day
Exegesis plus our sound crew in the Emirates. they did a great job.
even more Oman
Oman is such a beautiful country. We went on an amazing boat ride, and saw some of the most picturesque beaches, clear turquoise water, dolphins, jelly fish. it was a highlight of the trip for me.
The Sultan of Oman, notice the ceremonial dagger stuffed into his belt.
i can’Äôt resist but to publish all the pictures i take, but it seems there are so many that most computers can’Äôt load all the images, so you might only be able to view one entry at a time. if you want to view past entries you can click on the month and view all of march or feb. or do a search.
here are a bunch of photos of what we have been up to in Oman.
we played a gig at the ambassador’Äôs residence
wanna be beastie boys in effect
audience in a gig at our hotel
ants carrying grains of rice
on a night off these guys wanted to smoke cigars and drink cognac.
about 30 minutes after this photo was taken Mike wanted to throw up from all the cigar smoke.
we did a unusual, but enlightening workshop at the Ibri Higher College of Technology
after the females left the classroom the guys wanted to do a traditional dance for us.
then they wanted to put traditional head gear on each of us.
Then we played some music at the school.
We inspired this student to get on stage do an interpretive dance. I thought this took a lot of guts because in this culture I was told dancing to music is a sin. As soon as he got on stage everyone went crazy screaming and cheering him on. It felt like these people are dying to dance, but all it took was one person to get everyone else started. Notice that this is the same guy who put the turbans on our heads earlier.
tomas signing autographs for his adoring fans
This guy couldn’Äôt wait to use his exegesis sticker
the next day we played before a really great audience at the Nizwa Higher College of Technology. the males were clad in white and the females were clad in black.
When we first found out we were going to the middle east we knew it was going to be tough, and possibly dangerous, but i never anticipated how bad it might actually be. I mean, what if one of us was scalded while sipping on a moccaccino.
or what if someone happens to get a sunburn at the beach that is 100 yards from our hotel.
today we did a workshop at a high school.
then had lunch with some really talented high school musicians.
Oman really reminds me of Southern California. It is really warm, sunny, nice beach, big highways, laid back attitude. There are nice coffee shops with free wireless internet. it is quite comfortable and totally chill.
Last Couple Days in Yemen
i had a great time in Yemen. we had some great gigs with some great and enthusiastic audiences. here are some pictures from the last couple days in Yemen.
around 2 pm everyone buys bags of leaves called qat and chews on them, that’Äôs what this guy has in that bag. from what i’Äôve heard, it is a stimulant, but if you chew on the leaves for several hours, the high goes through various stages.
jammin at the yemeni cultural center
drum and bass
david cook introducing some local cats to sit in with us.
playing with some local musicians
after the show
Yesterday we arrived in Yemen. In this country there seems to be no traffic lights or traffic laws, no one way streets. Everyone just drives where ever they want, even motorcycles on the side walk. As a result, there is no traffic or grid lock, everything seems to move a lot faster. Maybe they are on to something. There is no public water system, you just have a tank of water on top of your house and collect the runoff in a septic tank underneath the house. and no sewage system.
notice the dagger i’Äôm holding
we had the incredibly fortunate experience of hearing local musicians demonstrate their art to us.
an oud player
a double reed open hole flute, i don’Äôt know what it’Äôs called, but he was circular breathing the whole time he was playing.
yemeni guys jamming
sax player that can play quarter tone music on the sax
dave cook playing some crazy harmonies on arabic tv
yes they have pro tools in yemen
tomas talking about music on arabic tv
discussing chaos theory on arabic television
exegesis plus local musicians at the yemen music house
then we visited the ’Äúold city’Äù
here is a spice market
then we played a concert at the U.S. Embassy
02/22/08 ’Ä¶last day in bahrain
today is our last day in bahrain. we were treated wonderfully and had an amazing time here. for our last day we mostly did sightseeing and chilled out
we went to the national museum
tomas sometimes thinks he’Äôs albert einstein
we went to an old portuguese fort. a remnant from the age of exploration.
at the end of the night we sat in with Northbound, the amazing cover band that has been playing in our hotel. If you are in Manama in the next couple of months make sure you check them out at the Sheraton Hotel. Here is a flick of Exegesis, Northbound and a random bar patron that jumped into the picture.
Next Stop Yemen!
my camera has been acting up, so not as many cool picturers today.
we visited an amazing mosque
our really nice driver mohammed gave us each postcards of paintings he has done.
here is the U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain introducing us at our gig. he is a really nice guy and let us have drinks at his place the night before.
chillin after the concert with some fans.
exegesis and billy banks after the gig. also pictured are britney from U.S. embassy and Mohammed, our driver. Mohammed is so poetic. he said of the whole band: today you played much more beautiful and you looked so gentle from far away.
Today was a really long day. first we went back to the gifted school and did another workshop. we divided the students according to instrument. I tried to teach some guitar players how to improvise over one chord.
then we went to an international school, where the kids spoke great english. they were excited to ask us questions.
then we went to a school for the blind and disabled and played some music and tried to explain a little about what we do.
after we played some local blind piano players played. it was inspiring to hear them play. three of them played, then David Cook played an improvised solo piano piece. it was incredible for me to hear Dave play a solo piano piece inspired by, and incorporating many elements from, the local Bharainian players.
this guy said he loved jerry goldsmith, who happens to be one of my favorite film composers.
then we went to our hotel bar and checked out an amazing cover band from the phillipeans. later on dave, tomas and myself sat in with them, with dave playing some great keyboard bass. the band members felt bad that mike was not with us, as they would have liked to have met him
first day of our program in bahrain
today we did our first workshops in bahrain. first, we did an educational workshop at the Gifted Students Center.
I figure a picture is worth a thousand words, so i might rely heavily on photos for this post. I gave Billy Banks my camera and he took some great pictures. here are some of them. here is Exegesis rocking the house at the Gifted Students Center.
Some of the students at the workshop. They seemed shy at first, but eventually became very talkative and engaging.
a local guitar player with amazing vibrato and phrasing that might be typical of the arabic style.
a band of students about to sit in and impress us with their knowledge of latin jazz.
Exegesis playing at the Bahrain Music Institute, where we gave our second workshop.
We split up and divided the students according to instruments. here is Dave Cook showing some piano players some of his harmonic mastery.
Mike and myself jamming with a young and talented local oud player.
Exegesis posing with the head of the Bahrain Music Institute and a student.
In addition to being a really fun day, I learned much about Arabic musicians, and more about what can make a successful educational experience. hopefully more days will be like this in the near future.
Whats up. Exegesis made it to the middle east intact with all of our gear. We are in Bahrain for the first week. It is really warm and sunny here and I think it is going to be fun teaching and performing for the nice people of this country.