Omar Souleyman to release formerly cassette-only Syrian wedding jams this November

Omar Souleyman to release formerly cassette-only Syrian wedding jams this November

Ain’t no party like an Omar Souleyman Party ‘cuz an Omar Souleyman Party don’t stop. Literally! Cult Syrian musician Souleyman is a star in the Middle East, thanks to the fascinating melodies and wild grooves he’s been laying down in both Arabic and Kurdish since 1994. This is a man with over FIVE HUNDRED recordings. Damn. And you thought Miles Davis was prolific. Now, about 80% of these releases are live recordings made at the weddings where Souleyman performs, which are then given to the happy couple. These recordings are later copied and sold at local kiosks in the area. So, if you’re gonna be an Omar Souleyman completist, it’s probably pretty likely that you also live with like 3,000 cats.

The wonderful Sublime Frequencies label introduced Souleyman’s music to Western audiences in 2007 with the release of Highway to Hassake: Folk and Pop Sounds of Syria. Since then Souleyman has released three more records on the label — 2009’s Dabke 2020, 2010’s Jazeera Nights, and this year’s Haflat Gharbia (The Western Concerts) — and appeared in enviable slots at Glastonbury and Austin’s Chaos en Tejas. Caribou invited him to perform at ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas festival this winter in England, and Björk asked him to do some remixes of her upcoming Biophilia. So he’s a busy man.

And now Sublime Frequencies’ friend/collaborator Mark Gergis’ vinyl-only label Sham Palaces is releasing Souleyman’s legendary Leh Jani on November 22. Back in 1998, Leh Jani was released as a cassette in Syria as a 30-minute track with two additional tracks. It was recorded by producer Zuhir Maksi to emphasize the feeling of his live wedding performances à la the hundreds of releases mentioned above. “Leh Jani” appeared in shorter form on Souleyman’s Highway release in 2007, and will soon be available for the first time in the US in its original full-length Syrian cassette version, thanks to Sham Palace.

• Omar Souleyman:

Would you rather Bill Callahan tour Europe some more or cover Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff”?

Aaaaaaand we’re back. Welcome once again, viewers, to the Bill Callahan Unassumingly Shuffles Around World channel. When last we left our lilting, shrugging, soft-spoken troubadour, he was wandering around Europe and the United States, spreading his message of apocalyptic love by performing entire set-length folk guitar covers of Sublime’s “Waitin’ For My Ruca” from 40 oz. to Freedom. We still don’t know how he juiced an hour and ten minutes out of that one song, or how he managed to not come across like a total misogynist prick while singing it, but hey!

But, awesome as that last round of dates was, it’s got absolutely nothing on this new batch of fall European shows that we just uncovered that highlight Callahan’s true range as a quippy action hero and suave romantic lead. Watch as Bill battles windmills, tangles with giants living high in the clouds, deftly escapes from witches who live in gingerbread houses, and more! And if we’re lucky, he might even mumble some words of wisdom along the way, like “a dream is a wish your heart makes” or “every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” Or, I don’t know. Something like that! Whatever keeps you watching. Maybe a Shrek dance number?


11.07.11 - Düsseldorf, Germany - Zakk
11.08.11 - Heidelberg, Germany - Enjoy Jazz Festival @ Karlstorbahnhof
11.09.11 - Lausanne, Switzerland - Le Romandie
11.10.11 - Schorndorf, Germany - Manufaktur
11.12.11 - Chorzow, Poland - Rozrywki Theatre
11.13.11 - Dresden, Germany - Kleine Reithalle
11.14.11 - Bremen, Germany - Schlachthof
11.16.11 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega
11.17.11 - Gothenburg, Sweden - Stora Teatern
11.18.11 - Oslo, Norway - Kulturkirken Jakob
11.20.11 - Stockholm, Sweden - Kägelbanan
11.21.11 - Malmo, Sweden - Palladium
11.22.11 - Aarhus, Denmark - VoxHall
11.24.11 - Brussels, Belgium - Cirque Royal/Autumn Falls Festival
11.25.11 - Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli/Le Guess Who Festival
11.26.11 - Paris, France - La Gaîté Lyrique

• Bill Callahan:
• Drag City:

Radiohead played Occupy Wall Street — JUST KIDDING! Occupy Wall Street admits they were had

You may or may not have heard the rumors of Radiohead giving a special show-of-sorts around downtown Manhattan, in cahoots with the Occupy Wall Street protest. But according to, by about 1 PM, Radiohead’s management denied any plans of a performance, but the rumor persisted throughout the afternoon, bolstered by both fans of the band and of social justice. Tweets did indeed abound, and based on the dozen Facebook postings that I saw from friends around New York, Thom Yorke was supposed to show that mug of his (somewhere) at 4 PM.

Well, if you weren’t in the city, you didn’t miss out. There was no show, no riots that ensued, no King of Limbs fanatics (who, sure, uh, care about the cause) stampeding protesters (who, sure, like Radiohead too) in Zuccotti Park. As Occupy Wall Street sheepishly tweeted shortly after the purported starting time of the show:

Radiohead is not coming, we were hoaxed. Please accept our apologies.

A little embarrassing, right? But hey, national publicity without police brutality — always a good thing!

• Radiohead:

[Photo: PaulS]

Mister Heavenly hit the road, cementing Ryan Kattner/Nick Thorburn as the indie pop world’s Hope/Crosby

Ryan Kattner (of Man Man fame) and Nick Thorburn (of Unicorns/Islands/Human Highway/Reefer/Th’ Corn Gangg/probably something else fame) are more than buds. They are beyond buds; they are super buds. That is why they created Mister Heavenly, their project with original Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer. Sometimes, Michael Cera is there playing bass, but only if someone with a pure heart makes a wish to an enchanted fountain.

When super buds start super bands, they have to go on super road trips. It’s the law of the land, the law of the bud! To uphold the letter of the law, Mister Heavenly are going on one hell of a road trip. In fact, this road trip will be the road trip to end all road trips, as the band intends to go to every single place in North America. Unfortunately, such a trip is financially irresponsible at best and physically impossible at worst. As such, the band has tightened their focus to consist primarily of a string of November dates on the East Coast and a few in the Midwest. Sorry, other locations that exist. Further apologies go to all those making wishes to an enchanted fountain. It appears that you have stolen gold from a dying man, tainting your once-pure heart forever.

Mister Heavenly dates:

11.04.11 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
11.05.11 - Baltimore, MD - Metro Gallery
11.06.11 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
11.07.11 - Charleston, SC - Tin Roof
11.08.11 - St. Augustine, FL - Cafe Eleven
11.09.11 - Orlando, FL - Back Booth
11.10.11 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
11.11.11 - Lexington, KY - Cosmic Charlie’s
11.12.11 - Saint Louis, MO - Firebird
11.13.11 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean
11.14.11 - Pontiac, MI - Pike Room
11.15.11 - Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
11.16.11 - Toronto, ON - Great Hall
11.17.11 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore
11.18.11 - Milford, CT - Daniel Street
11.19.11 - Boston, MA - Remis Auditorium
11.20.11 - New York City, NY - Mercury Lounge

• Mister Heavenly:
• Sub Pop:

Emo’s Austin closes their doors after 20 years of making Texas cool

Now, while most Texans will disagree, there isn’t much in Texas to make it “cool” (as in hip, trendy, chic, or approved by hipsters) outside of the hot and humid city of Austin, so, in a bit of sadder news, Austin is losing one of its coolest places, as Emo’s Austin has announced that they will be closing their doors for the final time in December.

“We were going the way of CBGB’s. When Moody Theatre moved downtown, it raised the bar for everybody,” said owner Frank Hendrix in a report on Billboard. The property has already been bought by Sixth Red River LC, who will probably turn the famed venue into something not nearly as cool, such as a House of Blues or another high-priced boutique hotel. Probably just some shitty condominiums.

“What makes a venue a venue is not four walls, it’s the people and the community that support it. We haven’t lost our spirit. We’re still Emo’s,” affirms Hendrix, who will continue to maintain Emo’s legacy by selling branded products like hats and shirts, continuing to maintain sister-venue Emo’s East, and promising that a new venue will be opened “within walking distance” from the original location.

Emo’s Austin will continue to play host to bands and musicians until Christmas Eve of this year. “We’re hoping for a proper send-off, with bands who’ve played Emo’s in the last 14 or 15 years to say good-bye to the downtown location.”

• Emo’s Austin:

RIP: Sylvia Robinson, “The Mother of Hip-Hop”

From The New York Times:

Sylvia Robinson, the singer, songwriter and record producer who formed the Sugar Hill Gang and made the first commercially successful rap recording, died early Thursday morning at a hospital in New Jersey. She was 75.

Ms. Robinson had a notable career as a rhythm and blues singer long before she and her husband, Joe Robinson, formed Sugar Hill Records in 1979 and served as the midwives for a musical genre that came to dominate pop music.

• Sylvia Robinson: