Posts

Philip Solomon: New England's Eminent Arab American Music Violin Virtuoso

Image
Philip Solomon: New England's Eminent Arab American Music Violin Virtuoso Philip F. Solomon from an Alamphon Records Sleeve. Courtesy of Richard M. Breaux collections.     Approximately six miles northeast of Providence, Rhode Island, where the Seekonk and Blackstone Rivers meet, rests the city of Pawtucket. Its population in 2020 was just over 75,000, but in the 1950s and 1960s when Pawtucket reached its population peak nearly 81.000 people resided there. At the same moment in the 1950s and 1960s, Pawtucket played host to the largest annual mahrajan on the East Coast – a multi-day music and cultural festival that brought Arab America’s biggest and brightest musical talent for a weekend of food, fun, dance, conversation, and cross generational socializing.   Those musicians who played at the Pawtucket mahrajan over the years were a who’s who of middle period Arab American performing artists – Hanan , Kahraman, Naif Agby , Tony Abdelahad , Mohammed El-Akkad , Amer & Sana Kadaj ,

Mustafa D. Siam: Arab Tunes Records, Political Activism, and the Struggle for Palestinian Recognition

Image
  Mustafa D. Siam: Arab Tunes Records, Political Activism, and the Struggle for Palestinian Recognition Mustafa Siam, 1962. Lincoln Heights Bulletin, Newspapers.com A few months ago, we can across several 45 rpm and 33 rpm records that sparked our curiosity. The “Arab Tunes” label with its logo of a man wearing a keffiyeh and an agal, is one we’d never seen before, but included a Los Angeles, California distribution address printed on the record and the record’s sleeve. The current note in Discogs.com for the Arab Tunes record label reads “was an American Arab label.” The sparsely vague description of the label and non-existent information about its owner, artists, and history are representative of the gaps in information about Arab American recorded music and music of the Greater Syrian diaspora in the United States that led us to establish Midwest Mahjar back in 2018. A relatively small amount of digging reveals that Arab Tunes emerged in the 45 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm era. The company r