Sunday, January 29, 2012

Al-Hadri Hamid - Riffin' the Ouled Bambara, Meknes-Style

Hard days in the music blogosphere. Sad to find the great Holy Warbles took a hit, though I have no doubt that the Owl will rise again! Hope I can continue sharing with you here. I try to keep my posts to music that is out of print and/or impossible to find. Thanks Gary at Bodega Pop for his thoughtful and passionate comments.

Carrying on with another Gnawa cassette for ya, this one picked up in Meknes c.1999. In the popular imagination (within Morocco and without...) Gnawa are associated primarily with Essaouira (where they are heavily promoted/exploited by the tourist industry) and Marrakech (where they probably exist in the greatest numbers of any Moroccan city). However, Gnawa practices and the musicians who animate them can be found in cities across Morocco, from Tangier to Oujda to Merzouga to Agadir...

The Meknes Gnawa tradition is well established and well documented.  It appears to be more prominent than that of neighboring Fez. Perhaps the presence in Meknes of the zawiya (shrine) of the Hadi ben Aissa, patron saint of the Aissawa brotherhood, makes Meknes more conducive to trance-music practitioners. Still, Gnawa from Meknes have rarely been featured in international or even nationwide recordings. One recent exception is Maalem Abdenbi el Meknassi.

I don't know anything about the performer here, al-Hadri Hamid, though I have another cassette from Meknes that I believe features him as well. This tape is all Ouled Bambara - that is, it features songs from the opening phase of the lila ceremony. Unusually, they are performed here with qarqaba rather than with the interlocking clapping that is typical of this phase. Some of the typical Ouled Bambara songs are featured here (Bangara Bangara, Chalaba Titara, etc.).  But there are also some rarely performed pieces, including a version of Tintinbara, which traditionally features a very funny pantomime where a Gnawi dancer (male) dresses up as a pregnant woman.

1) Tsiyyisa - Fangoro Fangoro - Amara Yobadi - Sidi L'-Afu Shshiyat Ammar
2) Berrma Sutanbi - Fulan Walina - Sawiye - Ye Llah Sawiye
3) Yobadi
4) Lalla L-Wa'riqma - Jellaba Titara - Jellaba Tiktu - Berkat a Husa
5) Kalkani Bulila
6) L-'Aribi 1 (Wayli a wayli) - L-'Aribi 2 (L'Aribi kum kum kum)
7) Allah Yobadi Sadiyariyara 1 - Allah Yobadi Sadiyariyara 2
8) Baniya yar kama - Allah Mitara Chkam Bambara - Wahyana waye - 'Ar Allah 'Ar N-nbi - Sadi w-Llah - Serku Balaji ya Huma - Tintinbara - Allah ya Mbwirika, Siydek rah ja (take 1)
9) Allah ya Mbwirika, Siydek rah ja (take 2)

Get it here.


  1. Holy Warbles, Global Groove, now FreedomBlues. Hard times, indeed. Glad to see you're still here, and looking forward to hearing this one.

  2. Thanks Barron - wow, FreedomBlues now too. Damn. To misquote Keith Richards:

    After all is said and done,
    Gotta blog while it's still fun,
    Gonna blog until they make me run...

  3. Tim, I have a couple of quick questions for you for this piece I'm writing for Brooklyn Rail ... contact me at garypsullivan at gmail dot com ... couldn't find your email here!