Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Young Fashioned Ways

Manama, Bahrain
We jammed with many musicians at the Bahrain Music Institute
Tuesday was a fantastic day, full of opportunities to meet and make new friends! It was our first full day of programming in Bahrain. The weather is hot, but we had some clouds, and even a few drops of rain, which constitutes one of the 10 days a year it rains here in Bahrain.

Our first stop was an all school assembly at the Abdulrahman Kanoo International School. It was a Blues education and musical performance for the whole school, with students of all ages coming in and out during the performance. The good news is that so far, everyone speaks fluent English and we are able to present all of our material without any misunderstandings or the need for translations. We had everyone clapping and moving in their seats. We handed out about a half dozen of the Hohner harmonicas we brought with us, and gave an on the spot lesson on stage to a few upper grade level kids. We had them playing the train boogie woogie in no time, and everyone hollered "I know you're right!"

After a quick lunch at a Bahraini Subway and Starbucks, we headed to Bahrain Radio for a fun filled interview and studio music session on DJ Kraazy Kevin's afternoon drive time radio show. Kevin is a zany Brit who showcased our big upcoming concert on Thursday night at the Cultural Hall. His interview questions were funny and right on. I whipped out another harmonica and gave an on-air lesson and had him playing for his listeners. We traveled light into the studio, but Little Joe had his guitar, Robbie had his bass and a very small amp, I played my portable tin sandwiches, and Ronnie delighted us all with his improvised drum set constructed out of a notebook binder and a binder clip. I'm continually amazed at Little Joe's encyclopedic knowledge about all things Blues. I learn something new from him everyday! Robbie is able to effortlessly talk about our tour at the drop of a hat. All of us together add our own unique flavor to the American Roots Soup Recipe for the Blues.

Joey and the oud player
In the evening we went to the Bahrain Music Institute, where there a few dozen music lovers and students there for a Masterclass. We started with a mini performance, followed by break-out groups to learn about guitar, harmonica and rhythm. After 30 minutes, we returned for a fun-filled jam session, joined by a very talented oud player, trombone, trumpet and clarinet. Jammers joined in. We played the classic Muddy Waters' blues "I'm a Man", followed by a funky rendition of "Crosscut Saw" a la Albert King. After the show we had a television interview and finished off with dinner in a Mexican restaurant. All in all, it was a very full day, packed with rewarding experiences.

Upon our return to the Golden Tulip hotel, I found this touching letter in my email:

A Fan letter from a student from AbdulRahman Kanoo school!

Dear Mr. David Berntson,

Well, I don’t want this letter to sound so formal because is a fan letter so let me start off by saying hey ya'll. I wanted to congratulate you on your very successful concert today in AbdulRahman Kanoo school. You guy were really awfully great. You had the power to grab our eyes and set them on you. Now ever since my friends and I heard how awesome you guy were we decided to take you're autographs and do some research about ya'll but we couldn’t really find much info. except for this e-mail address to be the way of communication between ya'll and us. What you guys do is breathe taking and we would love to see you once more before you leave. I'm writing this letter hoping that you'd receive it and see how much we think you were great this morning.

P.S: I'm a 9th grader…. and you guys ROCK <3 <3 <3 !!!!!!!!!

I am moved by the genuine friendship and goodwill efforts shown to us by the people we are teaching and playing for. We signed lots of autographs and people seemed to hold on to our hands for an extended period of time when shaking, expressing a heartfelt, positive connection. It is absolutely fantastic.

Check back soon for pictures of the day.

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