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A live recording of Otaak Band's first performance in the United States at the wonderful Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, IL, on January 15th, 2014. The band performs music from its debut album Bejawiya, and stretches out on unique arrangements of lyre music. Otaak Band Live! is available for free download on Bandcamp.



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Released in Cairo in April 2012, Bejawiya is the first album for Otaak Band, and the first recording to take the masankop out of a traditional setting and explore its potential as a complete musical instrument.

Miguel Merino, who plays drumset, hand drums, and masankop, produced the album and brought in some of the best musicians in Egypt to contribute guitar, electric and acoustic bass, keyboards, saxophone, percussion, and arrangement. Ahmed Said Abuamna is featured alone on "Tehabay 1" and "Terbal," showcasing his signature style of masankop playing, and is the shining lead voice of Otaak Band throughout the 13 tracks.

Engineered by Grammy-winning Egyptian engineer Alaa el-Kashef (Youssou N'Dour, Fathy Salama), Bejawiya is just a small taste of how Otaak Band is using this unique instrument to perform both traditional and original music, from the oldest Beja songs, such as "W'annaafi" and "Yhaab Yhaaba," to the country-rock of "Ogna" and the Sudanese-inspired but original melodies of "Daleeb" and "Ifaarsa."

A woman from the Beja tribe is called a bejawiya - there is a great tradition of love songs and poems in the Beja culture, and it is amply represented on this album.


Otaak Band on WBEZ Chicago with Tony Sarabia