Poster Done! Taqwacore Fusion on 8/12 in Cville

Poster made! Show details: HERE!

If you're interested in help promoting the show, please post this flyer image on your blogs, websites, myspaces, or in the streets (if you're in Central Virginia). Follow the link to the Flickr page to download the image file of its original printable size.


Media Reflexivity: Kominas Reading about The Kominas via Taqwatweet and Yellowbuzz

A bizarre moment: here's a picture of Shahjehan Khan of The Kominas reading the new Yellowbuzz blog post on The Kominas' show in DC on Fourth of July. This picture is posted on Flickr as a part of the "Taqwatour" photostream created by Taqwatweet. Of course, YellowBuzz found out about this photostream through Twitter.

Media gazing back on media: Is this an example of what Jean Baudrillard calls "the era of simulation"?

Here's a nerdy one: How does indie media figure into the era of simulation [after Baudrillard] or "pre-programmed, objectively existing associations" [Lev Manovitch, The Language of New Media]? This is my flash-response to Zachary Colbert's post "The Era of Simulation: Consequences of a Digital Revolution" on the Adbusters blog.

Finally, Peter T, what do you think?

Memories from the Fourth: The Kominas Collaborate with Like-Minded Hip Hop Artists

I'm still blown away by the memories and sounds left over from that night.

I had the privilege to partake of the intense collaborative moments between the Boston-based Kominas and their para-Muslim-identified compatriot hip hop acts The M-Team and Amir Sulaiman. The event was "the 4th of July New Muslim Cool Screening, Jam Session and BBQ." An offshoot of the annual meeting of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), this even took place at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in northwest Washington DC.

Omar Waqar (of Sarmust and Diacritical) played a solo set pouring forth radiant love from his Sufi-inspired lyrical outcry. Basim Usmani came on stage and said, “there is the New Muslim Cool. But some people say that we are the ‘new Muslim bad.” The Kominas had a different lineup that evening with Basim and Shahjehan Khan on bass and guitar, respectively, and Imran Malik on drums and Elester Rechard Bostick-Latham on trumpet. They blasted the church auditorium with spiritual blasphemy. “Par Desi” and “Sharia Law in the U.S.A.” resounded. The Kominas hardcore fans skanked, slam-danced. I spotted some taqwa-converts in the audience.

The Kominas then collaborated with the Brooklyn-based Latino Muslim hip hop duo The M-Team (featured in PBS documentary New Muslim Cool) and the saintly poet Amir Sulaiman from Atlanta. The Kominas backed up the MC’s providing intense live instrumental sounds. The members of the M-Team took turns rhyming contestational words about politics around faith and race. Sulaiman then took center stage pronouncing heavyweight words about spiritual battles and social unrest. The evening ended on an emotional highpoint. A congregation full of social misfits, however defined, shared and expressed life's discontentment while swaying, dancing, hollering, throwing fists in the air all enveloped within a spiritual cacophony. The spirit was triumphant; the music elated.

These are some moments that I managed to capture by my camera:

Omar Waqar

Imran Malik

Shahjehan Khan

Amir Sulaiman

Basim Usmani

The M-Team

More from this photo set.


YellowBuzz Returns + Pictures of Renminbi in Charlottesville

Yellowbuzz has finally returned from the IASPM conference meeting [International Association for the Study of Popular Music] at the Institute of Popular Music in Liverpool and vacation in Ireland and England. I have a true media overload accumulating documentation of shows, events, and memories in my machine pending for blog posts.

A few weeks back, I organized a show at the Bridge PAI on 7/5 in Charlottesville. The show featured the super-rad Brooklyn-based indie rock trio Renminbi on their 2-week tour of the south and midwest. Renminbi's set, though had be cut short due to time constraint, struck an impressive balance bringing out the best of the raw and the refined in contemporary indie and post-punk sounds. In addition to their loudi-licious set, they thoughtfully provided us with earplugs.

The members of Renminbi crashed at my place. I had the privilege of chatting with guitarist Lisa Liu about her experiences of being Chinese American and a rock guitarist. We had a great time exchanging stories about family, music, and trip to Asia. [Psst, we're conspiring a tour of Taiwan with a double bill featuring Renminbi and my duo Grapefruit Experiment next summer. Let me know if you or someone you know can help with that!]

The event also showcased Wanli [one of my former students' band] from Northern Virginia and The Hilarious Posters of Charlottesville.

Here's a set of photos that I took at the show:




More from this photo set.

By the way, I just upgraded my Flickr account to "pro" status. This means that all pictures I have ever posted are now availabe for browsing on Flickr. Check out all 10 YellowBuzz photo sets consisting of 329 performance photos!


YellowBuzz and HzCollective Present: Taqwacore Fusion in Charlottesville 8/12

Taqwacore Fusion
feat. The Kominas + Sarmust + Prop Anon + Oblisk + Jdavyd Williams and the Basement Bhaktis

presented by HzCollective + Yellowbuzz
Wednesday 8/12/2009
Doors @ 7:30pm | Show @ 8pm
The Bridge PAI [thebridgepai.com]
209 Monticello RD, Charlottesville, VA. 22902
Suggested Donation

South Asian Punks THE KOMINAS (Boston) and SARMUST (DC) are embarking west on a three week tour to bring decimation along the I-80 interstate. Also joining them will be Prop Anon, whose undefeated free styles occupy a grey area between rap, and punk rock. They plan to raze venues through New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah, Nevada, California, Texas, Misissippi, up through to Virginia, Philly, and finally to New York and New England. These will be the first performances west of Chicago - concerts that have been highly anticipated since the last tour in 2007 was profiled in the Rolling Stone, Newsweek, and Maximum Rock N Roll. Garnering praise from media has been easy for the groups, who were quickly lauded for "giving disenfranchised young Muslims a voice" (The Guardian, UK), though such press is misleading. For these hooligans, the only intention is to destroy. This is not your grandfather's 1977, or your crusty uncle's 1982. These groups are here to tell you what time it is, whether they have to bum rush the show - or not.

The Kominas were formed in the summer of 2005, and have released 2 demos and one full length since, titled Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay - which made a Boston Globe top ten list in 2008 by reviewer Siddartha Mitter. Smoked with acrid sarcasm on tracks such as Sharia Law in the USA, Suicide Bomb the Gap, and Wal Qaeda Superstore - conservative blogs quickly labled them a 'Jihadi rap group'. This is inacurate because the Kominas unload ammunition much faster than any Taliban. Like an unmanned predator drone, the group is known for providing quick blasts of bhangra infused hardcore and rap to incur maximum colateral damage. Since 2005, the band has performed with legends such as 45Grave (LA), The Genders (Tel Aviv), Riz MC (London) and M-Team (NYC).

Sarmust is a twisted splicing of anarchist sufism and indie-punk, masterminded by award winning sitar player Omar Waqar. A longtime stalwart of the DC hardcore scene, his music has become the bridge between dischord and simple harmony. The band Omar took on tour with him in 2007, Diacritical, was recorded and co-produced by Don Z at inner ear studios, where legendary records by Bad Brains, Q and Not U and Fugazi were cut. Determined to disembowel Ravi Shankar with a chipped cooking spoon, Omar Waqar's take on sufism is unapologetic - the name Sarmust is taken from a famous Sindhi saint whose condemnations of the clergy lead to his decapitation. Waqar has taken Sarmust's death on like a debt that needs to be paid in blood, and probably his own.

Propaganda Anonymous (Prop Anon) is a Situationist art experiment embodied as a B-Boy philosopher and media theorist submerged within the underground Hip-Hop scene of NYC. Rocking spots harder than semtex since 2002, Prop Anon released his first EP 'Todo Corazon' to underground acclaim. This EP is currently available for free download on his website Propanon.com. Prop is releasing his first full-length album "Squat the Condos" this summer, and is pushing the envelope of sound into a fresh genre of Hip-Hop and Post Punk. Prop also writers a column about "Hip-Hop, Punk Rock and Consciousness" for the widely read webzine Realitysandwich.com.

Band Sites:
The Kominas (Boston): http://myspace.com/thekominas
Sarmust (DC): http://myspace.com/sarmust | http://suchrecords.com
Prop Anons (New York): http://www.myspace.com/propagandaanonymous
Oblisk (Detroit): http://www.myspace.com/oblisk
Jdavyd Williams and the Basement Bhaktis (Charlottesville): http://jdavydwilliams.com/live/ | http://www.myspace.com/jdavydwilliams

Related Media:
Kominas, Sarmust on Current TV: http://current.com/items/90212670_the-kominas-taqwa-core-and-south-asian-punk.htm
Kominas, Sarmast/Such Records on MS NBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/30965845#30965845
The Taqwacores, The Kominas, and Mike Knight on NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=107010536

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=102442527297

This event is presented by YellowBuzz and HzCollective.

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Kite Operations: Music for AAIFF Trailer

Joe of Kite Operations informed me of one of the band's recent projects. Kite Operations made composed and recorded music for the trailer for the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) taking place July 23-26, 2009.


Video Alert: Taqwatour 2007-2009

I stumbled on this video that highlights moments from the Taqwatour in 2007. It features the Kominas, Omar Waqar (Diacritical/Sarmust), Vote Hezbollah, The Secret Trial Five, Al-Thawra, among others.

TaqwaTour 2007-2009 from taqwacore on Vimeo.


Hiep Le and Trang Vo Visit Summer Course on Global Pop

We had the pleasure of having guest performers Khanh Hiep Le and Diem Trang Vo in our class MUSI207/307 Global Pop this week. A song-writer, guitarist, and vocalist, Khanh Hiep Le now works an electrical engineer in San Diego. Le also played professional soccer when he was younger. Vocalist Trang Vo now works as a realtor and lives in Northern Virginia. Both Le and Vo came to the United States from Vietnam in the 1980s.

In their lecture, Hiep and Trang talked to us about their experiences of music-making in the transnational Vietnamese communities on the east and west coast of North America, and across the Pacific Ocean in Vietnam. Recently, Hiep released a solo record of all original songs. The money made from CD sales will go toward a charity group that helps families in Vietnam. In order to accommodate for the project's charitable aims, Hiep produced the CD in Vietnam. Collaborating with a Vancouver-based videographer, Hiep made a music video for “Cuoc Tinh” off of the album.

Trang has performed as a vocalist for over thirty years. She leads the Diamond Band, an 8-piece band consisting of three vocalists. The Diamond Band performs at least once a week for weddings and other celebrations and events in the multiethnic Northern Virginia. Of high demand, the band is booked up until next summer. Trang’s son Ken Nguyen explained that the mission of band is to bring people together through music. The band performs a diverse repertoire ranging from pop songs in Vietnamese to American oldies and Iranian tunes.

Hiep and Trang generously offered their talent to the class. Hiep performed a couple of songs from his album. Interspersed with stories of personal relationships and inspiration and vivid answers to the students’ questions, Hiep’s performance and talk showed not only his passion for music, and more importantly, the deeply meaningful role of music in his life. Trang blessed us with her beautiful voice. With Hiep’s acoustic guitar accompaniment, Trang sang “Noi Long” and “Crazy”, one in Vietnamese and the other in English, reflecting their linguistic and cultural versatility. According to Ken, “it was a real treat,” because Trang never performs without a proper microphone and sound system.

The class reciprocated with their loudest applause. After class, a number of students came up to express gratitude and exchange words with the guests. We thank you, Trang and Hiep!

Here's Hiep's video for “Cuoc Tinh”: