Music Wednesday: The Islamic Woodstock, Live From our Nation’s Capital


Text by Ryan Bradley

For the past week-and-a-half, an astonishing gathering has been taking place in Washington D.C., a town so used to astonishing gatherings that this one has managed to fly a bit under the radar. The Arabesque Festival is halfway through its three week run, and already it's historic: People are saying that the event, which features music, art, films from 22 countries, is the largest gathering of Arab artists ever. It's like the Islamic Woodstock. And it's happening right now. In our nation's capital. How cool is that?

This morning, NPR gave a great report highlighting some of the musicians: Salma El Assal, the Aretha Franklin of Sudan, and Marcel Kalifa, the Bob Dylan of Lebanon. You can listen here. Other groups to check out: Nawal from Comoros, Spice Islands off Africa's east coast, and
Hoba Hoba Spirit, one of the biggest acts ever to come out of Morocco. If you're reading this and are in the DC area, go online to kennedy-center.org to get tickets. And, if you're aren't, you can still watch most of the performances online, on the Kennedy Center's site. I, for one, plan on holing up this weekend and immersing myself in sounds arabesque.

Photograph courtesy of the Kennedy Center

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