Le 8ème Festival de la Culture Amazighe a Fes - the 8th Fez Festival of Amazigh Culture - was full of surprises tonight with two totally diverse musical genres coming together to provide a great night at Bab Makina.
A highly energised crowd became totally engaged with rock and traditional music. First up was Abranis, an Algerian Kabyle rock band. The Kabyle is an Algerian Amazigh community comprising 8 million in Algeria and 2 million in France.
The lead singer, Karim Abranis, may not look like your typical rock star, but the man is a legend. His voice has been the band's bedrock for the past four decades, which places him before Woodstock. He had the crowd enthralled when he announced, "Rock and blues, rock and blues - it's the universal language of the world."
The band comprised a traditional percussionist, modern drummer, two guitarists with fender stratocasters (jet black and sunburst) and bass. The lead guitarist, Youva Sid, on his stratocaster, showed he was worthy of such a guitar with face-melting guitar solos with more than just a nod in the direction of Jimi Hendrix.
If Karim Abranis's voice was not enough, he won the crowd over by donning an Amazigh cap and thanking the festival organisers for it. During the rest of the set the hat was handed around to the other members.
Their eclectic set was drawn from a wide variety of influences, most notably traditional blues-rock, Memphis style blues, 60's surf-rock and hints of reggae and traditional funk. There were some nice touches such as slide guitar and well placed chimes and percussion rounding out the songs.
When the set was finished Abranis left the stage having won many new fans with their brand of high quality rock.
The second set of the night could not have been more different, but, as one audience member took the trouble to inform us, "You are lucky to be here, because THIS is real Amazigh music". And so it was.
The group, lead by Bouazza Larbi, gave a splendid performance of traditional Amazigh music.
The five male instrumentalists were joined on stage by the five women and from the first note had the crowd in their hands. Singing along, ululating and dancing ensued. A splendid night at Bab Makina.
Words: Sandy McCutcheon and Fulbright folklorist, Sam Gordon
Photographs: Sandy McCutcheon
COMPLEXE AL HOURRIYA
19 :00 - 21 :00 - GROUPE TIYFUR(Maroc)
-MOHAMED AKOURAY Boughanim (Maroc)
- ABDOU BEN TAYEB (Maroc)
21 :00 - 23 :00 -GROUPE CATALAN SARSALE
-DEFILE CAFTAN MAROCAIN
-OUSSAN BAND (Libye)
FULL FESTIVAL PROGRAMME HERE