Brothers of the Baladi
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Brothers of the Baladi

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Band World Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"A foot-tapping mix of vintage Middle Eastern influences with a raucous world-beat sound"

The 2011 season started on 15 January with the visit of Brothers of the Baladi providing a foot-tapping mix of vintage Middle Eastern influences with a raucous world-beat sound including Celtic, African, reggae and a few classic American folk tunes tossed in.

Based in Portland, Oregon, Brothers of the Baladi have been touring for more than 30 years, often sharing their stages with local Middle Eastern dancers. We were a bit short of Middle Eastern influence in Banff but a couple of enterprising local dancers added considerable colour and athleticism in both halves of the performance. The instruments, including a kanoon, an oud, a doumbek, a zarb, a davul, and a bouzouki combined to provide evocative backing to the group’s original songs, some traditional Middle-eastern ballads and interesting covers of artists including Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield. Acoustic mixed nicely with modern instruments and there was a good blend of Middle Eastern and western influences. Add to this the fact that we had vocals at least seven languages (I spotted Farsi, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish, Lebanese, Egyptian and English) and you have a band that can genuinely claim to be world musicians.

Founder member Mike Beach together with Clark Salisbury, Mark Giles and J Michael Kearsay have established an excellent reputation in an interesting musical niche. Nominated for a Grammy in 2008 for Best Contemporary World Music Album, the group combined evident passion with some skilful song writing and playing to create a musical dimension unlike anything I’d heard before but something I’d be quite happy to listen to again. - Fringe Review


2008 Just Do What's Right (Nominated for a Grammy Award)
2006 A Time of Peace (Holiday album)
2006 Heart of the Beast
2005 Presence of the Past
2002 Hope
1994 Eye on the world
1993 Further Journeys
1992 Basic Middle Eastern Rhythms
1989 Beyond the Tenth
1983 Food of Love
1982 Dance with Gladness

The Brothers of the Baladi's music has been featured on TV's Lost (ABC), Sexual Healing (showtime), and Core Culture (USA Network). TBN's documentary, "Holy Family of Egypt - Jesus in Egypt" premiered in Cairo, also features the Brothers' music throughout. Credits also include music for the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Comedy of Errors; live theater for Kismet, and Inside Out’s One; featured music for Quest of Immortality – Treasure of Ancient Egypt; and soundtracks for over fifty Belly Dance videos. "For What it's Worth" is used by NPR as interlude music. Many tracks are streamed on Pandora, and played on radio stations across the US and in Europe.



Brothers of the Baladi is a Middle Eastern / World Music band based in Portland, Oregon, USA. Influenced by bands like Kaleidoscope, Spirit, Jimi Hendrix, Sirocco, The Incredible String Band and a variety of Middle Eastern artists, and with an existence spanning over 35 years and eleven albums, the band fuses traditional acoustic Middle Eastern instruments and songs with contemporary western pop, rock, and jazz, resulting in intelligent, passionate sound that has earned them a large international following.

The Brothers of the Baladi was formed by percussionist/vocalist Michael Beach in Yuma, Arizona in 1975 to back up local Belly Dancer Zamara. Beach recruited Colby Jirard, Joshua Mertz and Peter Tilley to try to emulate the music they heard on cassette tapes in Zamara's collection. The band played in Arizona until 1978, when Beach and Zamara moved separately to the Washington/Oregon area.

In 1978, Beach had the opportunity see the popular Middle Eastern Belly Dance band, Sirocco. The duo, comprised of Sulieman Feldthouse from the 1960s Middle Eastern Psychedelic Rock band Kaleidoscope and multi-drummer Armando Fojaco, was a huge inspiration. Later that year, Beach connected with multi-instrumentalist Joseph Pusey, and they began performing together under The Brothers of the Baladi name. In 1982, they released their first album, Dance with Gladness, featuring traditional belly dance music.

In 1989, Bass guitarist J. Michael Kearsey joined the band. In 1991, Pusey left the Brothers, and Middle Eastern musicians Ishmael and Boujemma Razgui signed on. By this time, the Brothers' were fusing Middle Eastern and western instruments and styles to create a unique international sound. In 1994, the group teamed up with Stephen Skaggs to release Further Journeys, featuring traditional acoustic Arabic and Turkish music. The album remains one of the band's most popular.

In 1995, Ishmael and Razgui left the group and Beach and Kersey were joined by Attillo and Tariq Banzi (Al Andalus), and former Santana percussionist Michael Shrieve. Shrieve performed, arranged, and produced the Brothers' album Eye of the World, which includes Arabic, Persion, Turkish, and Celtic songs, as well as original compositions and a cover of the Rolling Stones 'Paint it Black" in the band's trademark style. Their version of "Paint it Black" was picked up by NPR .

In 1998, The Brothers released Heart of the Beast, which introduced new keyboard player Geoff George, and features a unique cover of The Yardbirds' Over Under Sideways Down as well as fourteen Middle Eastern, Celtic, Afro Pop, Reggae mixes. The band's holiday-themed album, "A Time of Peace" followed in 1999, spotlighting Ishmael on kanoon, Steve Flynn on Ney, and Stephen Skaggs on Oud, George on bouzouki, Kearsey on fretless bass, and Beach on zurna, doumbek, zarb, riq, def, and davul.

In 2002, the band was joined by John Bilezikjian (oud) and Sulieman Fieldhouse (of the band Kaleidoscope) for their album "Hope," which features acoustic and electric Arabic, Turkish, and Armenian songs sung in both English and the Traditional languages. Hope includes the Armenian folks song Laz, which was one of Kaleidoscope's hits from the 1960s.

Beach released "Hands of a Thousand Dances" as a solo project in 2003. The Brothers reconvened to record Presence of the Past in 2005, focusing on the band's roots in traditional Arabic, Turkish, and Armenian styles. Presence again features Ishmael, Boujemma Razgui and Skaggs, as well as Brenda Erickson (violin), Geoff George (keyboards) and Daniel Eshoo (oud and saz).

In 2008, the band returned to its ambitious Middle Eastern / World Music style with the album Just Do What's Right, which includes covers of classic tunes by Buffalo Springfield, Chris Rea, and Neil Young, along with a set of politically charged original numbers. On this CD, Beach provides vocals in Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, French, English and the old Anglo Saxon dialect of Northern England. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008.