ANOTHER MUSICAL FEAST AT RIAD ZANY
A surprisingly warm Saturday night in Fez and amidst the trees and candles and wafting incense at Riad Zany the music was pumping out. It was something of a minor miracle that the concert took place at all, given that the idea was first floated at 11pm the previous evening. But it was an idea too good to refuse and so the team swung into action organising, food, seating, amps and speakers, candles and incense.
There have been many memorable music nights at Riad Zany, but this one was a departure from many of the previous offerings. There was no sign of the galloping Gnawa, no hint of Hamadcha and the music certainly wasn't ancient Andalusian or melodious malhoun! Instead the riad reverberated to the sounds of Old-Time Georgia Country and Blues.
The two musicians, Chris Witulski and Russell Brown, had toured in America as the group Picardy Junction, but this was their first public appearance in some years.
|Russell Brown producing sweet music|
|Chris Witulski - his "hollering" drove the locals wild!|
Chris playing bass guitar, spoons and vocals was accompanied by Russell on guitar, banjo, penny whistle and harmony vocals. It was a winning combination. They entertained the audience with everything from some wistful blues, to old-time hollering that had the local Moroccans wide-eyed in amazement. Chris and Russell played a couple of their own compositions and, as Russell told the audience, it was the first time some of the tunes had been played in public.
Included in the set-list were such favourites as Chocolate On My Tongue, Old Time Religion, Catwalk Into Town, Back On The Corner, Oh Death and Take 'em Away. Russell's guitar work was an entrancing highlight as was an improvised bass solo from Chris. It was an evening to be remembered.
|The audience moved from appreciation to exhilaration !|
The audience members - Americans, Australians, French, Germans, Italians, Moroccans and New Zealanders - had varying degrees of familiarity with the style of music but once the concert got underway they were engaged, clapping and singing along. After the intermission for tea and cakes, the musicians upped the tempo and they audience responded enthusiastically.
When asked about the evening, Chris was unusually laconic "I'm glad some people showed up."
Russell loved the concert and when asked about his Moroccan trip, said (with a broad grin on his face), "This whole trip has been a series of ridiculous events, It's becoming surreal." To which we all replied, al humdulliulah!
Footnote: At the end of the night there was one beautiful surprise... a candle dripping into the fountain had produced a magical pattern that appeared to be set against the stars. It was begging to be photographed and... right, we couldn't resist.
The View from Fez would like to thank:
Chris Witulski and Russell Brown for the fine music
Nouredine and Rachida for the set up and refreshments
Phil Murphy for the loan of his banjo
Photography and text: Sandy McCutcheon
Click on photographs to enlarge