Imagine the music on this video without the electronics - all acoustic including violin. oud, rebab (ancient Arabic bowed string instrument), qanoun (sort of a lap zither) and a percussionist. That's what we heard in Capestang on a recent fall evening as a slight chill heralding autumn hung in the air.
We haven't yet learned the rhythms of our new home in France but we believe that October marks the start of the indoor concert season. As is typical, the doors of Capestang's Maison de Peuple (community hall) opened at about 7:00 PM for folks with reservations. You could choose little round tables suitable for three of four dotted around the room or the longer rectangular tables that lined the perimeter. For about $5.00 each, we were entitled to a plate with a slice of bread smeared with tapenade, another slice of bread with a hunk of a cheddary cheese, a scoop of cold rice with spring onions, and a chunk of one of three types of loafy somethings - one featuring smoked trout, one with nuts and bleu cheese, and one with bacon and dried tomato. For $12.00, we grabbed a bottle of sauvignon blanc. And for two hours, while we ate and drank, we were serenaded by two local artists - accordion, uke, and vocals. Occasionally, a dude walked up to the front, put on an apron, and harangued the crowd with a sort of poetry slam in French.
Amine Tilioua appeared with three fellow musicians a little after 9:00 PM. Only once did he tell us anything about the songs that we heard. From what I understood given my still limited French, he simply said that we were listening to Arab-Andalusian songs old and new with origins primarily from the Maghreb of North Africa. Most of the tunes began with a quiet bit of noodling on the rebab or violin. All songs were in Arabic. Some obviously happy and upbeat, some quieter, a bit sad. And toward the end, a women in what I presume was a take-off of traditional North African garb moved sinuously to the music in front of the musicians.
The musicianship was excellent, the singing soulful. Amine's voice is captivating. The players often smiled and nodded to each other. And the audience was enthralled. If this is a preview of the type of concert season that's in store, it will be an enjoyable, enlightening winter here in the south of France.