Searching for Olima Anditi by Cyrus Moussavi

Back in Western Kenya. I’ve spent so much time traveling up and down these roads searching, sometimes despite myself and for reasons I can’t quite articulate, for old guitar players. I’ve imagined a movie about the traveling blind guitarist Olima Anditi ever since we met in the last days of 2010. He remembered me by the feel of my hand the next time I saw him, in 2016. And now, in 2018, traveling with copies of his record (a co-release with Mississippi Records that came out in late 2017), some royalties, and the trustiest of Raw Music collaborators Jacob Russell, I planned to finally make the film.

But it’s 4 days of roaming these dusty roads and no sign of the old man. The musicians with whom he used to live said he got up and left one day three months ago. His phone was stolen a few weeks prior, and they haven’t heard from him since.

“Are you worried?” I asked. We were sitting in the dark. No power, a storm brewing, lightning flashing outside the tin shack. “We’re not worried. If anything happened to him, everyone would know. Olima has many friends.”

Indeed. As we travel around, everyone has stories of the last time Olima came through town. They point us further down the road, or in toward the lake, or even, after a long day of travel yesterday, back to Kisumu where we started. Our whip this time is not of the highest quality. An old Mazda van that mercilessly devours gas (and gas is EXPENSIVE out here). Yesterday, the front left wheel fell of twice. Once in the middle of the market town of Akala, where we’d met Olima last time, and once at the very end of the night, in a muddy parking lot in the Railways Estate, after 200 km on rutted roads. We left the car behind. Packed up our bags, got on some motorcycles, and rode home to try again today. We’ll place a call for him on the radio tonight, hoping he hears. He lives with a radio glued to his ear, after all. I’ll see if they’ll even play some songs from the record. for now, some photos from the road. I’ve been paying more attention to the hand painted signs and logos after traveling in Tanzania with my friend Gordon. Here’s some of what we saw (but not what we felt or smelled).

“Olima lives like a bird,” my friend Hannington said when we started this search. So we keep looking.

Dar Es Salaam by Cyrus Moussavi

Dar Es Salaam. Warm light, kind people, murky sea, charcoal burning, good chicken, bad fish, palm trees choked in smog, controlled dancing to very loud music. Inspiration from the artists, photographers, and musicians at Nafasi Art Space, and some fine time spent with John Kitime, a musician, collector, historian, radio host and more, who never stops, but who did pause, briefly, to tell us about captured German soldiers and newly unearthed biographies of our favorite guitarists and Tanzanian copyright law. We saw the Dar premiere of Wahenga, a moving film about John and the current state of Muziki Wa Dansi in Tanzania, directed by our friend Rebecca from Nafasi and the Tanzania Heritage Project. The film was projected on a sheet and blasted through a sound system in the famous DDC Kariakoo social club/bar in the middle of Kariakoo Market, which buzzed around us. Drank Konyagi atop the Hong Kong Hotel (directly across from the Rising Sun Hotel), and later, when the hotel closed, ran down ten flights and caught a cab to hear John and his band play their all-night Saturday set by the Indian Ocean, swatting mosquitos and shuffling softly trying to mimic the music lovers (and plain ol’ lovers) on the dance floor. This old music is called Zilipendwa, meaning “Those who were once loved.” In Wahenga, John takes offense to the past tense. The musicians live, and on a few dance floors in Dar Es Salaam last night their music was joyously and actively loved.

Sometimes I wanna dance by Cyrus Moussavi

Here’s the finished video for Sometimes I Wanna Dance, a single from Lonnie Holley’s new album MITH, coming out on Jagjaguwar on Sept 21.

It’s a harrowing record — takes you all the way down through the muck of American history and then out to space where you peer into a satellite reflecting bright shiny and fiery visions of the future, and at the very end Lonnie brings you back to the Atlanta street corner where he lives and works. There we built a juke joint from scratch, invited a host of people we met while filming in and around the city over the course of the preceding two weeks, put together a blues band led by none other than Atlanta keyboard legend Eddie Tigner, served up some food and asked people to dance out to Lonnie’s take on 80s keyboard soul.

We were graced by the presence of Edeliegba Senior Dance Ensemble, as well as some incredible young Atlanta musicians and artists including Nesha Nycee (say it twice) and filmmaker Colbie Fray, who helped shoot and also appears in the final video. Mid-shoot, Lonnie paused to break it down for the gathered crowd — a 20 minute improvised sermon about rising waters and the need for uncompromised black creative voices. DIG IT.

Sometimes I Wanna Dance by Lonnie Holley

Director/Edit: Cyrus Moussavi

Producer: Matt Arnett, Brittany Nugent

Camera: Charles Autumn Miller, Cyrus Moussavi, Colbie Fray

Color: John Peterson, Moonshine Post

Extra Special Thanks:

Edeliegba Senior Dance Ensemble

Mr. Eddie Tigner and band

Thank you: Ceera Sade, Riniece (Ree Cee B) Bradford, DJ CoCo, Keenon Rush, Matthew Harris, John Dierre, Tiffany LaTrice, Arthur Ford, Barbara Price, Ms. Ebony, Diana Stevens, Theresa Howard, Nesha Nycee, @Huggntreez, Chad Crowley, Sandi Kloosterman, School of Humans ATL, Home Grown Atlanta

Portland and Seattle Screenings by Cyrus Moussavi


Summer came and went and I was too geographically displaced to notice.  I spent April in Berlin, May in Athens, June in Tbilisi and Turkey, July in Atlanta, and have finally arrived in Chicago. Along the way, we made a short film with the great Lonnie Holley, my favorite living artist and a true visionary. More from that shoot to come. I'm still recovering from our three week shoot in the American south.

Next week it's off to the Northwest for two screenings of Oulaya's Wedding. I'll be there with Hisham from Sublime Frequencies for a conversation after each show:

Sept 4, Portland Oregon, 7:30PM at Clinton Street Theater

Sept 5, Seattle Washington, 8PM at NW Film Forum

Please spread the word and say hello if you make it out!

Johanias Kiunya RIP by Cyrus Moussavi

RIP Johanias Kiunya
Nov 1947 - March 2018

I met Johanias and his son while filming in western Kenya in 2016. A soft spoken and gentle man, he came over to Shem Tube's house and performed this track after we had finished recording with Shem. It was late afternoon, between thunderstorms. He'll be buried tomorrow, March 17.

Sending condolences to his family and friends, and remembering his lovely music today.


Johanias Kiunya
Mungu Nisaidie (God Help Me)

I have experienced many problems
And now I am really crying
Friends and family you better pray for me

My neighbors, I am tired of your daily noises
I admit I am wrong, but go tell the elders
Personally, I don’t hate anybody
Even wrong doings I cannot revenge

May God himself help me
Until the time of my death

My neighbors surround me with evil
Even my good deeds, they have now rejected
Now I better pray to Almighty God
Even if they do evil, it’s upon them

Personally, I don’t hate anybody
Even wrong doings I cannot revenge
May God himself help me
Until the time of my death.

Translation: Hanningtone Steven
Video and Edit: Cyrus Moussavi
Special Thanks: Naman Obuyi

 Johanias and son

Johanias and son

 Shem Tube, Johanias, Naman Obuyi

Shem Tube, Johanias, Naman Obuyi

 Shem, Johanias, yours truly 

Shem, Johanias, yours truly 

 Shem's yard, where we made this recording between thunderstorms

Shem's yard, where we made this recording between thunderstorms

Rapasa live at Barbes, NYC by Cyrus Moussavi

Rapasa, a young nyatiti player from Nairobi, visited NYC recently, and some of my musical friends helped get him a gig at Brooklyn's Barbes. Here's some video, featuring Nathan Okite (guitar), Courtney Hartman (guitar, banjo), and Sam Reider (accordion). More words coming soon. I'm off to Sundance for reasons still not fully clear to me. 

Caldera by Mehdi Qamoum & Courtney Hartman by Cyrus Moussavi

Mehdi Qamoum (Morocco) & Courtney Anne Hartman (US) met at the incredible OneBeat music exchange program in Caldera, Oregon. On Mehdi's way back to Morocco, we linked up at Crown Finish Caves in Brooklyn where they composed and performed this song.

Mehdi plays one of my favorite instruments, the guimbri, used to induce trance-states in gnaoua music. Courtney's instrument will put you in a trance, too, as we all know.

Here are the lyrics in Arabic. I asked Mehdi to translate to English. He said, "I'm trying to translate, but it's not the same. You understand?" Certainly.

Mehdi Qamoun - Guimbri
Courtney Hartman - Guitar

Film by Cyrus Moussavi / Raw Music International

Audio mix by Jacob Blumberg


ومالي ومالي 
وماليي وهيا مالي 
ويامالي شوفو واش جرالي
وهيا مالي شوفو واش جرالي

تمنيت كون مشيت ما يمشي صديقي
تمنيت كون مشيت ما يمشي صديقي 
وحشك في قلبي ذوب ليي قليبيي 
وحشك يا مسير ذوب ليي قليبيي

ومالي ومالي 
و ماليي وهيا مالي 
ويامالي شوفو واش جرالي 
وهيا مالي شوفو واش جرالي

تمنيت كون مشيت ما يمشي صديقي. تمنيت كون مشيت ما يمشي صديقي 
وحشك في قلبي ذوب ليي قليبيي 
وحشك يا سمير ذوب ليي قليبيي

ويامالي شوفو واش جرالي 
ويامالي شوفو واش جرالي 
وهيا مالي شوفو واش جرالي 
ويامالي شوفو واش جرالي 
وهيا مالي شوفو واش جرالي 
وهيا مالي شوفو واش جرالي

Merry Christmas from Burma / Iowa by Cyrus Moussavi

Burma and the Burmese diaspora is really active on Facebook, and this Christmas carol from our trip across the eastern part of the country a couple years ago is suddenly getting a lot of love. 

This clip was shot as part of a motorcycle trip through the very Christian (Catholic and Baptist) mountain regions of Kayin (formerly Karen) State and southern Shan state. We were on a search for music traditional and otherwise in a region rarely visited by foreigners. We found both, and a lot of Christmas spirit.  

When I returned to Iowa mid-winter, a chance encounter in a pizza joint led me to a community of Karen and Karenni refugees and migrants from these very same villages, living in Waterloo and working in meat packing.  They helped me translate some of these videos, and invited me to church services, lunches, and New Year's celebrations. I recognized some of the Christmas songs, first heard in the lush Burmese highlands, displaced and rearticulated in the dead bleak Iowa winter weeks later. Radically different contexts, but a common sense of longing and refuge in the church.

Here is a short film, one of my favorites, that resulted from this collaboration with the Iowa Burmese refugee community. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to our friends in Kayin State, Iowa State, and all places between and beyond!

RIP Charles Duvelle by Cyrus Moussavi

 Charles Duvelle signs a record for Hisham Mayet at his home near Paris, summer 2016. Photo Cyrus Moussavi

Charles Duvelle signs a record for Hisham Mayet at his home near Paris, summer 2016. Photo Cyrus Moussavi

Charles Duvelle

(1937 - Nov 30, 2017)

We lost a great one.

Charles Duvelle was a musician, composer, photographer, and musicologist (don't call it "Ethno!") who recorded dozens of albums across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

A child of French colonialism (literally), he was born in "Indochina," as he called it. He didn't return to France until age 9. "Dirty, cold, and without color" he said when we asked him to describe the Marseille of 1946.

Duvelle didn't stay long. He spent much of his life traveling, first organizing local radio archives across Francophone Africa, then recording albums for France's Disques OCORA label.

His approach was innovative in both technique and humanity.

"Sound is a whole: The sound which is performed outside has to be reproduced as it is. Organ music is recorded with natural reverberation in a church, because this is its normal environment. But if someone is normally playing any instrument or singing outside, it’s better to keep recording outside instead of in a closed recording studio."

And so Duvelle ditched the studio and began making recordings outside, capturing the energy  of performances as much as their sound. Listening back decades later, you feel you're there. Sometimes he moved amongst the musicians with the microphone and his Nagra 3 during a performance.

"I had to behave not only as a witness but as a musician—using the microphone like a musical instrument."

"[This] situation was complicated—and exciting at the same time—because it needed more intuition, mobility, communion with the musicians, and adapted skill to control together the microphone and the recorder. I felt a bit like I was improvising with a music instrument, or behaving as a video cameraman—trying to transpose the vitality and truth of the musical scene into a really good musical recording."

Duvelle's second innovation was in presentation.  This music wasn't readily available in the "west," and people weren't sure how to approach it. Duvelle packaged and released the albums in elaborate cloth binding with detailed notes. 

"I had the money, and I had the desire of having beautiful products. And also, I wanted to attract so-called “refined” people with popular traditional things. So I thought that this music should be treated as well or better than the Deutsche Grammophon series [preeminent German publisher of western classical music]."

Today people are putting out "deluxe exclusive" impossible to afford reissues of music from all over the world. But at the time, treating this music with respect, as a commercial product and also as pure art, was unheard of. 

"Many kinds of world music—particularly oral traditions from Africa—were unknown, just because they had no means of being disseminated worldwide. Collecting part of this fantastic potential and publishing for the first time such new music was of course quite exciting.

But for whom—the public? I don’t know who is the public! Maybe some pop musicians, some jazz musicians or even 'serious' contemporary composers. The Beatles, at that time, one of them was interested. Serge Gainsbourg—have you heard of this one? He went to see me several times, and he was also quite excited by different kinds of African music."

Last summer I spent two long days with Duvelle. Brittany Nugent and I came along with our friend Hisham Mayet, co-founder of Sublime Frequencies. Hisham grew up on Duvelle's records, and felt kinship with Duvelle's rejection of dry academic practice in favor of spirit, energy, humanity. Hisham and Charles were finishing up a book of Duvelle's photos, and we were along to film the interviews and add a few questions of our own. 

Duvelle was charming and gracious, spending hours showing us his immaculately organized music collections, scrolling through a lifetime of photos and videos on his little laptop, remembering with a wry smile and humor run-ins with greats like Rakotozafy. He even cooked us lunch, served up with bottles of rose and bemused questions about US politics. 

"What would you be doing if we weren't bothering you today, Charles" I asked at one point. 

"Playing piano like every day," Duvelle said. 

Yet another thing that made him unique in this world of musicology. The man was a musician first, and it was when talking about music that he was at his most insightful and eloquent, transversing generations and cultures in a few sentences:

"I don’t like writing music. I think this system has produced so many kinds of beautiful music, but it limits new possibilities of creation. This is why I am so attracted by oral traditions of creation and communication. As I told you, I like to improvise music. I can build an organized and structured music without the help of writing, just because I am used to it. 

Also, today there are so many means of recording and editing music through digital techniques that writing has lost a lot of his power. In that respect, it is interesting to notice that the great Asian civilizations—Indian and Chinese, for instance—knew how to write long before Western civilization, but did not use any writing system to play or transmit their refined art."

He said it with his glint and his smile. Then he sat at the piano and improvised.

Listen to some of Duvelle's work here.

Thank you to Hisham Mayet for bringing us along last year. Thank you to Charles Duvelle for the warmth and the music. 

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Tourin by Cyrus Moussavi


Preparing to hit the road with Group Doueh. Here are the dates for our film screenings. Dates with only Group Doueh playing are in the post below.  We've got a bunch of new sounds and images to share, including a very limited live recording by Group Doueh with silk-screened covers by the artist Shawn Reed. Check it!


Last summer I traveled to Dakhla, Western Sahara with Brittany Nugent and Hisham Mayet of Sublime Frequencies. We stayed with Group Doueh, a band I've admired for years, and filmed the wedding of their eldest daughter, Oulaya.  Now that film is done, and the whole band are flying to the US for a short east coast tour. We're showing the film alongside the performances -- a chance to see the latest Sublime Frequencies film and the legendary Group Doueh on their first tour of the US since 2011. Come thru! 


September 29 NYC
(le) poisson rouge
Group Doueh Performance


September 30 Pittsburgh PA
Group Doueh Performance


October 1 PHILLY
Underground Arts
Group Doueh Performance + Screening…/1549654-group-doueh-live-…/


October 2 NYC
New School, Manhattan
Film Screening Only (Film makers in attendance for Q&A)


The Root Cellar
Group Doueh Performance + Film Screening


The Columbus Theater
Group Doueh Performance + Film Screening 
ticket link - .


October 5 NYC
Anthology Film Archives (!!)
Screening Only (Film makers in attendance for Q&A)…


Group Doueh Performance + Film Screening at nearby Suns Cinema


October 7th JERSEY CITY, NJ
Monty Hall (WFMU)
Group Doueh Only

Flood of film and music by Cyrus Moussavi

Here in Athens, the city shuts down for August. Even the trusty woman who runs the bakery is off to Vegas for the rest of the month. Everything feels slow, hot, and covered in a film of exhaust. But, as usual, and seemingly despite ourselves, shit occurs. Some of that shit includes:  THREE albums from Kenya coming your way in September:

1) Olima Anditi - Where Else Would I Be (Mississippi Records / Raw Music International)

A series of songs recorded with the great blind guitarist Olima Anditi in his rented room in the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya on the very last day of 2010. Since then, I've been on a journey to establish the proper identity of old Olima. He shares a name with one of the first Kenyans to record on guitar. But the dates don't match up. An imposter? A fluke of history/biology? Last year I went back to western Kenya and tracked the old man down. He has no fixed address. He travels by bus and plays guitar at dives and drinking spots. For four days we followed him on his journey around Lake Victoria, and he told us the story. An honor to release this with the great Mississippi Records, a label I've looked up to and learned from over the years. 

2) Usiende Ukalale (Don't Sleep) - Modern Omutibo from Kenya (Mississippi / Olvido / RMI)

In the late 1950s, George Mukabi invented a style of guitar music called "omutibo." A single guitar played like three, two sweet voices in harmony, and a spoon scraped against the ridges of a glass Fanta bottle for percussion. It was country music, and stood in stark contrast to the "Twist" music of the city (electric guitars, suits, flash and style). But it sold and sold. Mukabi was killed in 1963, but a generation of artists, many of them his family and neighbors, picked up the style and innovated.  

On a trip through Western Kenya in search of information about Mukabi, I met many of these old artists. Some of them still played, and these wobbly, gorgeous tracks are the sound of the music today. Featuring legends like Shem Tube, Fanuel Amimo, and George's son Johnstone Mukabi. 


3) George Mukabi - Furaha Wenye Guita (Mississippi / Olvido / RMI)

The great Mukabi. What can I say. Gordon Ashworth of Olvido Records first played me his music in Portland, and it's been a search to learn more about the man since then.  This compilation includes newly mastered versions of some of his greatest tracks. It also includes an extensive oral history -- the story as told by those who knew him best.  ALL of his recorded output will be available online. As with all these projects, proceeds go back to the family. 

I've got guests. I have to go buy a (plastic) bottle of wine. Next time, I'll tell you about the two movies we're releasing this fall. It's gonna be good. 

"Photographs of Charles Duvelle" Paris Release by Cyrus Moussavi

 Image from "The Photographs of Charles Duvelle," Sublime Frequencies 2017

Image from "The Photographs of Charles Duvelle," Sublime Frequencies 2017

Late nite in Athens, thinking of Paris. We were there recently for the launch of a book of photographs by legendary rouge musicologist Charles Duvelle, compiled by Hisham Mayet of Sublime Frequencies. Last summer, my partner Brittany and I helped in the recording and transcribing of interviews with Duvelle at his home near Paris. Two days of long convos with Hisham and Duvelle, who, at 81, is sharp, funny, kind, and infinitely patient with us. He took us through his archives, served rose, cooked lunch, and asked incredulous questions about America (a long life of traveling the world and that's still the weirdest place of all). For a brief and truly sublime moment, Duvelle played piano, improvising as we fumbled with the camera gear, moved. 

A year later and the book is out, a beautiful and weighty beast that Hisham poured his life into, shipped from Singapore to Paris in time for an event at the Musee du quai Branly.  The museum, a monument to French colonialism and art deemed "primitif," sits amidst a faux tropical garden in the center of town. A room full of journalists and fans and the old elite of French musicology (though the academics were not invited).  The conversation was long and very French, and we were proud and a little baffled to be a part of it.

Duvelle skipped the academic ethnomusicology route. Though his liner notes have always been thorough and he knows what he's talking about, he was never affiliated with a university, and he approaches field recording as an artist and musician first. He got shit for shunning the academy at the time, but his recordings are now canonical. Hisham, as they both agreed during the event, is following that path. A certain shared spirit, crossing generations. 

 Duvelle and Hisham telling secrets, photo CM

Duvelle and Hisham telling secrets, photo CM

Paris was alive. It was hot and the whole world was out, lookin good.  We showed a nearly finished cut of our latest film, "Oulaya's Wedding," at a squat near Stalingrad. The crowd there grew up on Sublime Frequencies and looked up to Hisham the way Hisham looks up to Duvelle. That's a whollllle nother story that I'll tell you in picture form in the next post...

 Brittany at the Musee du quai Branly, photo CM

Brittany at the Musee du quai Branly, photo CM

 The crew post event

The crew post event

 Duvelle in PNG, 1974

Duvelle in PNG, 1974

Raw Music 2017 by Cyrus Moussavi

I've been living in Greece, translating Farsi to English for Iranian and Afghan refugees who live in anarchist squats. I'm thinking and writing about movement, displacement, art, and passports.  Recently, I ran into visa issues and got kicked out of Europe. "Visa issues." That's the kind of terminology people with powerful passports are allowed to use. The people I translate for do not have visa issues. They sell everything they own and hit the road.  So my American passport means I'm back in Chicago, upright, a little offended, and planning next steps.

The forced break gave me a chance to go through some of the old RMI hard drives and put together this clip of footage from documentaries past, present, and future.  The music is by Ulaanbaatar's own Bodikhuu.  Images come from Diyarbakir Turkey, Burma, Mongolia, Ukraine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Cambodia, Thailand, Trinidad, Kenya, Western Sahara, and more.  

There's a lot coming from Raw Music in 2017.  We're finalizing work on a series of vinyl releases of Kenyan guitar music, including an album by Raw Music favorite Olima Anditi, a new compilation of music by George Mukabi, and a compilation of field recordings I did with the surviving members of the Kenyan Omutibo movement during my trip across Western Kenya last year.  I'm excited about these releases because the music is incredible, and because we put in a lot of work into tying the songs back to the specific culture and context from which they arose.

We've also got a feature length film about GROUP DOUEH, the most beloved band in the occupied territory of Western Sahara. We were there last summer for the wedding of Oulaya, Doueh and Halima's eldest daughter. A week of music and cooked meats, dancing, colorful clothing, love, family. I feel warmth when I think of it. It's also really special on a personal level -- I shot it with my partner Brittany and one of the people I look up to most in this strange music game, Hisham Mayet of Sublime Frequencies.  

So that's what's up over here. What are you up to? 

Shem Tube's Personal Record Collection by Cyrus Moussavi

I'm so proud to release this record! The first in a series of gorgeous acoustic guitar albums from Western Kenya.  

This batch is from the personal collection of the legendary Shem Tube.  He gave me a pile of records wrapped in newspaper and plastic that he'd saved from the 1960s and 70s when I went to visit him in Bunyore, Western Kenya, this summer.  We digitized and cleaned up the records, and now they're being released outside of Kenya for the first time.  Check the PDF liner notes that come with the release for the full story.  

All proceeds from this record go to the surviving members of Abana ba Nasery, Shem's band and the creative force behind these lovely songs.  A co-release with Olvido Records.  A very special thanks to Mike Graves for volunteering his time to make these old records sound so good.  He's worked on many albums I love, so to have him contributing here is an honor. 

LISTEN HERE and read the liner notes (with photos) HERE.

Celebrating in Heaven by Cyrus Moussavi

New Raw Music video here. I spent last Christmas with the deeply kind community of Burmese refugees living in Waterloo, Iowa. The holiday celebrations were overshadowed by the tragic disappearance and death of 17-year-old Moe Sed, who drowned in the Cedar River. But the generosity and grace that I admired so much while traveling in the mountains of eastern Burma continues on in my home state, and the Karen, Karenni, and Chin communities came together to mourn and celebrate in powerful ways.  

I'm thankful to know some of the incredible members of this community, as well as the Iowans who support and encourage them. Burma and Iowa both have strong places in my heart. I hope you enjoy the video. 

Disposable Camera in the Sahara by Cyrus Moussavi

The night before we traveled to Western Sahara for our film shoot with the legendary Group Doueh, I drank a frightening amount of wine on a Paris park bench with my dear friend Allan K. and anyone else who stopped to talk.  At some point I lost the tiny Rollei 35s camera that had been serving me so well throughout the summer. I also lost my way and wandered sweating in the blinding morning sunlight, bumping into waiters putting out cafe tables, looking for my friend's apartment.  I barely made the flight, but I had enough time to buy a disposable camera at a gift store by the departure gate.  A sad replacement.

We filmed like mad, and the first Raw Music feature documentary will be coming to a film festival near you (if they take us and you live near a doc-loving metropolis).  In the meantime, Roads & Kingdoms published some of the disposable camera photos from that roll.  I love the casual feel of these cameras. No one feels threatened. You don't have to think. You shoot and forget.  Above are a few outtakes.  See them all here:


Shem Tube Restoration by Cyrus Moussavi

Today my friend Gordon in Portland sent me the restorations of a series of vinyl 45s Shem Tube gave me to digitize in Kenya this summer. The records were beat, but thanks to the hard work of Mike Graves, these things sound beautiful.  It brings me warmth and joy on this grey Athens Wednesday, the day after the whole neighborhood went up in clouds of teargas during the annual anarchist protests of the police. 

We'll release these tracks soon. It will be a fundraiser with all proceeds going back to Shem in Kenya. The records these tracks come from were lost in the mail when we tried to return them to Kenya. A brutal and completely unlucky event for people who spend their lives shipping records in the mail (this never happens).  We can never replace these records, but we hope to compensate Shem for the music.  

For now, here are some pictures and captions from our recording and interview sessions with Shem, which took place over two days in May, 2016.  Certainly one of the highlights of the year.

And below, a track I recorded by Shem, accompanied by his son and some friends, during the same sessions. This will be part of an omutibo compilation and film to be released in 2017.   

40 Years by Cyrus Moussavi

We drove through a snowstorm in Western Mass and Mom asked me to put on the great Iranian folk singer Pari Zangeneh. I'd never heard her, but Mom sang sweetly and softly, every word, right through the slow chaos of falling ice and swerving cars.

"You know November 16 was my 40th anniversary in this country?" she asked. I did not know. "It was hard not speaking the language and being in a new place. I listened to Pari Zangeneh every day. She helped me so much."

I've been on the road. I know it's hard to be away from home. But I can only imagine 40 years in a new country, molding yourself to a place that doesn't always want you.

I celebrate my parents and the work and heart and love they've put into this country. I believe in music, and I'll use it to fight the hate and fear that we've unleashed on ourselves.

Dark days, but, as usual, Mom is right. Pari Zangeneh helps in times like this. Enjoy.

 Pari Zangeneh, from a 1975 album

Pari Zangeneh, from a 1975 album

A photo posted by Cyrus Moussavi (@cyronymus) on