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Home Articles Articles Jammin' in the Name of the Lord

Jammin' in the Name of the Lord

Sufi Soul FestivalThe annual Sufi Soul music festival took place this year over the weekend of 17-18 July. This time around two large coach loads carrying a diverse range of people travelled from St Ann’s Priory in London to the Osmanische Herberge (Sufi centre) located in the beautiful Eifel National Park in Germany. Attracted by the promise of enjoyable music and good company they were not disappointed. The German hosts were such warm, humorous and gentle people. They also have the respect, and rightly so IMHO, of artists and musicians from many a background far and wide, some of who travelled up to 2500Km to perform and share their music at the festival.

The guiding light and organiser of the festival fondly known as Sheikh Hasan, opened the event reading Quran as per the sunnah tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace), and commented on the two essential types of music i.e. that one is bad that leads away from God, and one is good leading to God. With that the music began.

First on stage playing sitar, a young group called Cultural Resonance who looked like they would be equally at home in the Glastonbury festival. Throughout the two days of the event there was music to suit every taste and all invoking the divine. These assembled talents could have commanded serious money for tickets and substantial credit should be given to Sheikh Hasan and his fellow organisers for arranging all this as a free event. There must have been twenty or so groups and solo performers on stage over the weekend from heartfelt poetry readings to Urban Rap to the Qawwali of Mahmood Sabri. All the way from Granada are Kauther, a group comprising violin, ney, cello, vocals and drums playing some very moving music in a classical/traditional style, a high quality ensemble whose music is capable inshaAllah of reaching great heights. Even their warming up I found moving to the point of tears.

Taking advantage of the sunny weather and beautiful parkland that surrounds the centre I ventured for a walk and though I must have been over 3Km away up in the hills the voice of the opera trained singer on stage was carried up in the warm air. Arriving back at festival base camp, opera had given way to the boisterous Ottoman Empire Sound System! A youthful group of high spirits and considerable talent whose set included some pop/rock classics re-arranged to carry their own message, great fun and had the crowd jumping.

While the sun shone the outside stage was the main focus and on the far side the Bedouin tent with its comfy carpets cushions and sofas was a chilled spot for singers and musicians to jam. After sundown and the evening Maghrib prayer the stage kit was moved inside where the music continued to flow. Ever heard of a Chapman Stick? neither had I. At first it looked possibly like an electric sitar until its sound was released accompanied only by the most amazing hand drum. The music though modern in its kind was perfectly at home amongst those accustomed to losing themselves in the whirling dance of the Sufi dervish. After standing ovations and encores the Stick gave way to Qawwali followed with its centuries old poetry set ablaze by voices of reaching passion, mashaAllah. By now everyone was perfectly primed to follow Sheikh Hasan in the Hadra, the Sufi chanting and movement that has in recent years become such a feature of this, the most distinguished Naqshbandi Sufi order led by Master Sheikh Nazim - the Truthful.

As you might expect with an event in a place like this there are several hot food and market stalls all around which add to the colour, buzz and relaxed atmosphere. In fact aside from the quality and range of performance and music, it is the relaxed and harmonious atmosphere that is so remarkable. Witness to this is the mixture of people, from the majestically bearded and turbaned, to the locals in their summer dresses, the leather suited motorcyclists on their sports tourers and those just seemingly out for a stroll with their dogs. All of them happily getting along together and at ease in each other’s company.

At one point while chilling under the shade of the trees with my Afro/Caribbean brother one of the German members of the Ottoman Empire Sound System sauntered by with his guitar heading for the Bedouin tent;

“Going to jam?”

“Yeh, jamming in the name of the Lord”,

“I hear you brother”.

See your pictures from the festival.

Adam Knowone.


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