([-_-]): Fes, Morocco: Gnawa Music

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fes, Morocco: Gnawa Music

I first heard something that sounded like Gnawa music when Ed Kent  loaned me and then gave me a bunch of cassettes that he had brought back from Morocco years earlier. One really stuck out, and as Andrew Whiteman will remember, it not only stuck out, it rocked our collective world.
I was walking here in the medina in Fes last week and suddenly heard something that sounded almost exactly like that old tape of Ed's. I stopped and asked what it was. 'Gnawa' replied Mohammad, who was bombing the music really loud in his tiny fabric shop. The next day was my birthday, so when asked what I wanted to do, there was no question that it was high time to hunt down some serious Gnawa (guh-nawa). We went back to Mohammad's shop and I ripped a bunch of cd's. He then told me that he knows some Gnawa musicians and asked if we'd like to arrange a concert. No-brainer. The next day we were in Mohammad's house with his family, being served mint tea and snacks, and rocking out to some serious Fessi Gnawa. What an experience!

That's what I love about Fes... it has the most friendly people I have ever met, and a great local tradition of music.

Gnawa is essentially Sufi music, since all of the lyrics are referencing God or about serving God. The band (and traditionally the audience) tends to get really high smoking Kef and drinking Berber whiskey as the music builds intensity. I personally love the call and response style the best.

Unfortunately none of the cd's had track listings...



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