'An oasis of sensual rhythms'

Maria Muldaur has called them "a delightful oasis of sensual rhythms and superb musicianship that always makes me dance." The Brothers of the Baladi will perform Wednesday, July 25, at the Havurah Shir Hadash in Ashland.

Though grounded in centuries-old Middle Eastern musical tradition, the Brothers of the Baladi's music is no dry academic exercise, but a vibrant, communicative and contemporary take on the roots from which it springs. The LA Times praised it as "a sound that knows no borders."

The Brothers of the Baladi was formed in 1975 in Yuma, Ariz., by leader Michael Beach. The current music lineup features Beach fronting the band on lead vocals, Arabic tabla, davul, frame drums, mizmar, midjwiz and riq; J. Michael Kearsey on vocals and bass guitar; Geoff George on vocals and keyboards; Daniel Eshoo on saz, oud and jimbush; and Mark Burdon on drum kit and percussion.

The band members sing in seven different languages: Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Armenian, French, Spanish and English. English verses often alternate with those in the original tongues to give the listener a better understanding of a song's meaning.

The Brothers of the Baladi plays traditional and original offerings of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Armenian and North African music capturing authentic sounds from ancient instruments. Then the non-Arabic, Portland-based band adds Western influences to create its signature sound. The result is a program that bridges cultures from the Middle East to international rock 'n' roll.

The band has headlined countless colleges, festivals, concert halls and clubs playing their eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Reggae, Celtic, Latin and rock. They have shared the stage with Maria Muldaur, It's a Beautiful Day, The Mamas and the Papas, 3 Mustaphas 3, Leon Redbone, Paul Horn, The Lovemongers (Heart), Poi Dog Pondering and Zachary Richard.

Their credits include the 2000 Desert Rose Grammy Award, featured music on USA Network's Core Culture, "The Holy Family of Egypt," a documentary premiered in Cairo in 2006, sound tracks for the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Comedy of Errors," and sound tracks for more than 50 Middle Eastern videos.

The band's CDs include "Dance with Gladness," "Food of Love" and "Beyond the Tenth" from their early years. Their "Further Journeys" CD continues to be one of the best-selling of all belly dance records. That was followed by "Eye on the World," "Heart of the Beast," "Time of Peace," "Hope" and "Hands of a Thousand Dances."

Local belly dancers Kajmir and Emily will join the band at the Havurah to enhance the show with their dancing.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Tickets are available at the Music Coop, Ashland.

Call 488-7716.

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