From the leafy, rain-drenched cityscape of Portland, Ore., comes a sound that recalls the blistering deserts of the Middle East. Though membership has changed, the Brothers of the Baladi have been reveling in the artistry of traditional Middle Eastern music while giving it a Western twist for nearly 40 years, picking up dozens of accolades, including a 2008 Grammy nomination.
Performing on instruments like the mizmar (an Egyptian reed wind instrument), oud (a Middle Eastern relative of the lute) and mijwiz (a type of double-pipe), the Brothers produce a hypnotic, exotic form of World Music that defies borders. Literally. The band mixes its grooves with vocals in Arabic, Armenian English, Farsi, French, Spanish and Turkish, and frequently throws in a bit a belly dancing, to boot.
The Brothers of the Baladi not only bring people together on the dance floor but bridge cultures with sound. As the San Luis Obispo, Calif., New Times wrote: "If World Peace is ever going to come, it will be because of the talent and devotion of people like The Brothers of the Baladi." We'll say as-salaam-alaikum to that.