No Blues

(Website)

AD VAN MEURS (guitar)
Ad van Meurs started his musical career in the 70s as pianist with the folk rock-band Deirdre. In 1982 he formed the successful new wave band W.A.T. who were uniquely remarkable because of their special fusion between the synthesizer and (slide) guitar. By 1988, armed with his guitar and rythmbox he soldiered on under the guise of The Watchman.

HAYTHAM SAFIA (Ud, Arabic lute)
Haytham Safia (1980) is from Kafr Yasif, a small town in Galilee. His passion for the U’d starts at an early stage. In 2001 he makes his debut as a performer in the Netherlands, where he acquires a firm position in the musical ensemble accompanying the Galili Dance Group: they tour through Europe. In 2002 he graduates with distinction at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem. Haytham Safia is in essence a classical Arabic musician, but his compositions and music are influenced by other musical styles such as Persian, Balkanian and jazz music.

ANNE-MAARTEN VAN HEUVELEN (double bass)
Anne-Maarten bought his first bass at the age of 15. His musical influence began with the blues but over the years he has been known to play jazz, punk, reggae and rock. After living and playing the gig circuit in New York he returned to the Netherlands as leadsinger and bass-player of the 50s style blues-band the Marbletones.

Albums

Ya Dunya

Label: Rounder Records - RRECD 20
Distribution in France: Harmonia Mundi
Release date: February 01, 2007

After the media and commercial success of their first album, ‘Farewell Shalabiye’, the second album by No Blues, called “Ya Dunya” will be released in February 2007. This album has 10 brand new tracks and 3 songs together with Tracy Bonham on vocals and violin. In the same way as Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie documented their era in the early 20th century, the instrumentalist is the torchbearer of a centuries-old tradition in the virtually unwritten Arabic music culture. ; the assignment of No Blues was to investigate a possible combination of folk-blues and traditional Arabic music. Both folk-blues and the Arabic taqsim (the improvised interplay without a fixed rhythm) are exceptionally suited for storytelling; the former in a somewhat rawer way, the latter mostly lyrical and melodic.

In the NO blues sessions the musicians soon succeeded in establishing a singular integration of folk-blues and Arabic music. A real cross-breeding we call ARABICANA. Ad van Meurs (guitar, vocal), Haytham Safia (oud) and Anne-Maarten van Heuvelen (double bass) are again at the centre of this fascinating project.

No Blues - Ya Dunya

Farewell shalabiye

Label: Rounder
Release date: October 01, 2005

In late 2004, the Dutch production company Oost-Nederland commissioned a three-day exchange between Haytham Safia, guitarist Ad van Meurs and double-bass player Anna-Maarten van Heuvelan. The result was a subtle and profound conversation between classical Oriental music and American folk-blues. The tradition of folk tales inspired by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger finds a strong resonance in the complex taqsim scales performed by Safia’s ‘oud. Tales of love, exile and day-to-day existence are confidently sung in van Meurs’ low-key and sonorous voice that will remind some of Dire Straits.

“Farewell Shalabiye” or “Farewell my beauty” is an experiment by the trio that has adopted the tongue-in-cheek group name No Blues. After the 2004 sessions they successfully opened for The Holmes Brothers. No Blues then went into the HT studios in the Netherlands to record this ten-track CD under the supervision of vocalist Ankie Keultjes. Within a week of its release in August 2005 it was the Dutch national radio’s album of the week. The producers have tried to sell it as a successful blend of “Americana” and Arabic music called “Arabicana”, an appallingly corny idea. But the respectful and indepth explorations of the two worlds do honour to the virtuosity of the three artists. “Farewell Shalabiye” is a soothing and engrossing CD that would enrich any album collection.

September 2005

Daniel Brown

No Blues - Farewell shalabiye