Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Jamming Through the Uprising in Bahrain

April 22, 2012

There is a small revolution, an uprising, a bloody protest movement going on in Bahrain at the moment. But that does not prevent people from getting together to make music, and there was no way I was going to stop myself from going out to do the same as I am on my worldwide tour of open mics and jam sessions in conjunction with the Formula One race season that will take me to 20 countries this year – to which I will add Turkey next week, and of course, France, where I live. So it was off to the Dublin Club at the Ramee Palace hotel for me last night to take part in the weekly Saturday night jam session.

Interview in England and French (after 4 minutes) with Josh Gend, bandleader of the Hot Beats, who host the open jam session at the Dublin Club in Bahrain every Saturday night, speaking here with Brad Spurgeon:

I had last been to the Dublin Club two years ago when Bahrain had not yet fallen under the Arab Spring situation it is currently in with Shiite protesters asking for more rights and even trying to overthrow the government. In preparing for the trip here, I was pleased to learn that the Dublin Club not only still exists, but that it still has its Saturday evening jam AND to top it all off, it happened to be a 10 minute walk from my hotel in Juffair.

There turned out to be yet another added attraction to the whole thing, and that was that the resident band running the open jam session at the moment happens to be from my fellow countrymen (and women) from Quebec. It was a seven person band called Hot Beats. They were indeed, HOT! They started off with a set of their own before they ran three sets – yes 3! count ’em! – for the jam session.

Despite the fact there is a revolution going on around here, the pub was quite full of both spectators and musicians. Of course, this is helped by the fact that the U.S. military base is nearby, and a lot of the men of the armed forces go to the pub. Still, if felt as if there were slightly fewer people.

The other thing that had changed is that two years ago each musician was allowed only one song. Last night, I got in four over three sets. It was a great pleasure, and the atmosphere in the pub made it almost entirely possible to forget the tension that had been felt outside this little island of music in a country where there had been violent protests daily since I arrived on Thursday morning from Shanghai.

In fact, in my podcast interview with Josh Gend, the bandleader, he spoke about the same phenomenon for him and the band working in these peculiar conditions. Oh, and for my French readers, check out this podcast in particular, as it starts in English, but we slip into French for the second half, starting about the 4 minute mark.

Tomorrow its back to Paris for me for a few hours before I head off to Istanbul for a sports conference, and the hope of playing a little music there too….

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