Saturday, April 17, 2010

Got My Mojo Workin'

Muscat, Oman

Our plane from Kuwait arrived in the Sultanate of Oman at 1am Friday morning. We were greeted by the Deputy Public Affairs Officer Daniel Pattarini. He was easy to spot because he was sporting an Eskimo Joe's tee shirt! How wild is that seeing a shirt from an Oklahoma landmark so far from home? Dan helped us get settled into our rooms at the Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat and we hit the sack after a very long involved (extra baggage charge challenge) travel day.

Friday in the region is the Sabbath and we took it easy resting for our busy upcoming schedule in Oman. Robbie Mack and I explored the immediate area and we ended up at the very beautiful beach and waterfront area. In the evening, Public Affairs Officer Robert Arbuckle, his friend, Dan and his wife took Robbie and me out for a great seafood dinner featuring, you guessed it, hamour fish. Robert ordered two large whole fish, grilled in a mix of savory spices and drinks of mint flavored lime…very, very tasty. I always enjoy dinner conversations on the Rhythm Road. Robert has served in the region for many years and his insight into the culture is fascinating.

Our waiter expertly filets the hamour fish.
After dinner in my room I relaxed with a bit of channel surfing. Much to my surprise, I saw a feature on religious traditions showing interviews with Carlton Pearson and Bill Scheer of Guts church in Tulsa. It is amazing to witness the revolutionary changes in information sharing, as technology links up every part of the world. There I was sitting in a hotel room in Muscat, Oman, watching a television program about 2 prominent religious leaders in Tulsa, Oklahoma. What a small world it has become!

Sultan Quboos Grand Mosque
Saturday morning in the Gulf is basically Monday morning. Dan called it metric Monday and I have not quite adjusted to the concept yet. We started the day early with a meeting with the sound technicians for all our programming here in Oman. Then we were off to experience the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This was our first opportunity to actually walk around inside a Mosque and we were overwhelmed with the size and beauty of this magnificent Muslim holy site. The Grand Mosque has the world’s largest Swarovsky chandelier and the second largest hand made rug in the world. Pictures do not do justice to the fantastic architecture and gardens. The Sultan allows public tours of the Grand Mosques and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to actually go inside this great Mosque.

We then drove to the US Embassy for a press interview and a meeting with the US Ambassador to Oman, Richard J. Schmierer. Ambassador Schmierer also has over thirty years of experience in the diplomatic service and he said he was happy to have us bring Little Joe's music to Oman. We talked about tonight’s concert and about the buzz on the blogosphere. See

On Saturday evening, while standing in the hotel lobby waiting to go to our Saturday night concert at the Sinbad Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Joe introduced me to Mad Dog David Charles, a British ex pat who runs the hotel health club and happens to be a blue harmonica player. He and Joey think that they actually met on Beale St. in Memphis a few years ago. We realized we had a mutual friend, British blues player extraordinaire Eddie Martin. I invited Mad Dog to our gig as we hopped into our Embassy ride to the show.

At the US Embassy, Muscat, Oman
The show was well attended by senior Embassy contacts, foreign diplomats and ambassadors, press, as well as prominent business people in the community. It was a very posh setting, with rows of cloth covered seats and we expected a somewhat restrained response. However, we upset the joint!! Everyone appeared to have a great time. After our performance, I chatted with the Ambassadors from Spain and Korea, as well as US Ambassador Schmierer, who told me he was looking forward to Monday night’s show in a more casual setting where people might even be able to dance. After a great evening, we returned to the hotel to call it a night.

Tomorrow is a unique travel day. We’ll be driving 3 hours away to the town of Al Buraimi to do a school workshop and performance. We’re hoping to see some camels along the way so we can stop for some good photo ops of Little Joe and his Arabian Knights.

A complicating side note is the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland. We are scheduled to fly home through London on Wednesday. Who knows what will be happening by then. On the Rhythm Road, we have learned that we must really hang loose. We’ll make it home, en’shallah.

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