Another Great Night for Pakistani Live Music in Los Angeles
By Nausheen Khan
Pictures by Shayan Farooq, Minah Shoaib and Rahima Shoaib
Report Coordinator: Annie Athar
It was yet another great night for Pakistani live music in Los Angeles, and another fantastic collaborative effort by The Pakistan Arts Council of the USC Pacific Asia Museum and The Markaz (formerly The Levantine Center).
On September 5, 2015, a diverse crowd of various faiths and ethnicities enjoyed a truly multicultural musical event, with performances by Mekaal Hasan Band, an Indo-Pak Sufi Rock band with members from both Pakistan and India, the Bedouin X band playing Afro-Arab trance music and by Rosa Rojas presenting folkloric dances of the West, Central and North Africa. The venue (The Pico-Union Project), which was originally a beautiful old church that later became a Jewish temple, is now a multi-faith, multicultural center, that also serves as a women’s mosque on occasion, lent itself perfectly to this Spiritual and Sufi musical performance.
The music of Mekaal Hasan Band is an East-West fusion but in a fashion different from what we have seen by Pakistani bands thus far. Mekaal’s music has strong underpinnings of rock and acid jazz mixed with South Asian classical style music. They played Pakistani devotional songs with ancient lyrics by Baba Bulleh Shah and other well-known poets, merging the grit and fire of rock with the sweet sound of the bamboo flute (bansuri). The sound and style of their music is indeed unique and brings a brand new fan base to the Pakistani music scene.
The event also exemplified the goal and vision of the Pakistan Arts Council, which aims to introduce Pakistani Arts and Culture to mainstream America. It carries out its mission by fostering local community connections and by providing a platform for new and established Pakistani talent to gain recognition and appreciation with a diverse group of Angelinos.
The Pakistan Arts Council is the longest standing Pakistani organization in Los Angeles. The council is an extension of the USC Pacific Asia Museum and for almost 25 years the two organizations have collaborated to further the Arts and Culture of Pakistan in the contemporary society. Both Ayesha Kamran, President of PAC and Susana Smith Bautista, Director of Public Engagement at USCPAM took the stage, to introduce their respective organizations and their shared vision. Together they have brought many diverse and unique programs to showcase the Arts, Culture and People of Pakistan. The effort of the Pakistan Arts Council has proven that Arts indeed was the best way to introduce the intellectual, artistic and cultural heritage of Pakistan.
This event also supported the purpose and vision of The Markaz: the evening’s grand sponsor and host. The purpose of the Markaz is to provide a central and open-minded gathering space for everyone interested in the greater Middle East and all the majority and minority cultures that are an essential aspect of the Islamic world, from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the east to Morocco in the west.
For more information about the sponsoring organizations and for future events go to the following websites:
USC Pacific Asia Museum and Pakistan Arts Council - http://www.pacificasiamuseum.org/
The Markaz - www. levantinecenter.org