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“Quite simply, it’s one of the most exciting bands in world music right now”

Time Out Chicago

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Yemen Blues is a contradiction in plainsight. They’re a puzzle you unlock byfinding the solution inside yourself. Solo voices in unison; a collective in many parts made up of founder Ravid Kahalani the talismanic audio guru; Shanir Blumenkranz with his twin role on bass guitar and oud spanning different worlds and different sonic systems; Rony Iwryn holding down the percussion chair, with an open heart, a thirst for salsa, and an ability to find strength in fragility; and Dan Mayo bringing a hip-hop crunch, concentrated hunger for fun and a machine-like sense of the human groove. Drawing on the individuality and the great traditions of the band members heritage, each note sings with a love for common humanity. “Spirituality unites us,” Ravid explains. “Love unites us. We move to extremes, but it’s soulful.”

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“With Ravid Kahalani at its helm, genre-defying band Yemen Blues is known for a deeply experimental sound & live performances that border on the spiritual. To say that Ravid Kahalani is a charismatic performer is to say that water is wet and hawaij, the Yemeni spice blend, is fragrant. The Israeli-born musician is the lead singer and cofounder of Yemen Blues, a genre-busting musical group that fuses Yemeni and Hebrew melodies with jazz, blues and funk influences. It’s been described as “a crossroads of Yemenite melodies and contemporary funk,” but even that is limiting for an experimental group that is constantly evolving and beyond definition. Think Prince or Michael Jackson, but Yemenite via Israel and with a hint of James Brown.”
-Miriam Groner, The New York Jewish Week

Dubi Lenz, the well-known Israeli journalist, was the first to listen to Yemen Blues’ music. He immediately felt the power of the project while the band was still in its exploration phase. He helped to get Yemen Blues’ first who at the influential festival and expo – Babel Med – in Marseille, France. It was then that something truly incredible happened. The band received a hugely positive respond from people all over the world and the name “Yemen Blues” began to spread like wild fire. The band was hailed as the biggest success story of the festival by the well-known newspaper Liberation. Since then, Yemen Blues has been called “the most exiting and unique live show you can see” by several news outlets including National Geographic, Time Out Chicago, NPR and many more.  We were amazed and thankful when we started to tour and have performed over 150 shows from 2011-13!   These performances have taken place all over the world on some of the biggest and well known stages including: Womex World Expo, Roskilde Festival Denmark, New York Central Park’s Summer Stage, Grand Performances Los Angeles, Millennium Park Chicago, Luminato Toronto Canada and many, many more. Top musicians from around the world are taking notice as well including Kronos Quartet, Oxmo Puccino, Matisyahu and more. Yemen Blues’ first album was also named The Best “world music” album of 2011 at “Le Devoir” Canada, and the Best album of 2011 by Sweden’s SvD newspaper. February 2011 marked Yemen Blues’ fist tour – and what a blessing it was. The band transitioned into its new role as the hippest thing in “World Music” scene. The success has seen subsequent tours all over the world – most extensively throughout Canada, USA & Europe.

In 2012 Yemen Blues continued their touring, beginning the year by headlining NYC’s “GlobalFEST” – an industry expo and festival featuring the planet’s top ‘world music’ acts.   The band followed that up with a tour of China including large-scale shows in Shanghai and Beijing.  Later that year, Yemen Blues headlined shows including: the big stage at The Lincoln Center Out Doors NYC, Royce Hall UCLA and many many more of the top stages and greatest festivals all around Europe, Canada & USA. In 2013 Yemen Blues started in Vancouver with the second year at the big Hutzpah! Festival. After that, it was back to a tour of China including an enormous concert in Shanghai’s main square.  Yemen Blues then went to Mexico and did a big summer tour throughout The United States and Canada.  The band ended the year with a fall tour that includes sold out shows at the beautiful Koerner Hall, Toronto and a massive 2 shows for adults and children at The Ordway Center in St. Paul MN… Yemen Blues’s latest installment, 2015’s “Insaniya (Humanity)” was produced by the legendary Bill Laswell. The new album focuses on hard grooves, rich vocals, and clear and heavy sound. Special guests on the album include Yemenite star Tziyon Golan and one of the greatest voices of the Sahara, Mariem Hassan. The show built around the new album features a collaboration with Maria Kong art collective’s super-talented Ori Ben-Shabat, who created an original 5-screen video artwork for each of the songs on the album assembled from live footage of the band and original images inspired by the music. The new show is a visual and rhythmic feast for listeners. The simple message behind Yemen Blues’s music is universality.  It is the band members’ love of music that allows this truth to shine through.  The band strives to tap into this universality in all of its shows as well as in the workshops they do with children of all ages. Yemen Blues has created a sound that swirls with the traditions of Yemenite Muslims, Christians and Jews, with contemporary overlays of rock & roll, jazz, and blues.

Ravid Kahalani

 Founder / Composer / Writer / Leader & Singer

 

There are individuals, there are truly unique talents, and then there is Ravid Kahalani. The founder and beating heart of Yemen Blues, he’s taking the desert vibe into the 21st century, creating new truths, and fresh traditions in the process. A soulful performer in the most honest and literal sense, his spiritual approach to music-making encompasses every aspect, every feeling of the human heart. As a frontman, he has a shamanistic quality. It’s his role to engage, to carouse, to provoke – sometimes he’ll wear a dress onstage, at others it’ll be something traditional, moving from one extreme to the other. Underneath it all, though, is a desire to break through to people, to engender some form of conversation in the format of a visual and aural extravaganza.

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