Wed. Dec. 24, 2003. Americanistan
& Friends closed the Holiday Market for the Fifth year. It's a tradition! We enjoyed wonderful dance performances by Razia, Alfredo and Elena Villa. Special guest singer Maha Hamide recapped
the Arabic song she sang at the Middle East Peace celebration on Dec.13. Elena Villa graced us with two stunning songs from
theSpanish-Arabic and Sephardic traditions. It was an awesome show. We finished with our traditional parade through the vendors'
booths, capping their Market experience in style.
Sun. Dec. 14, 2003. Sagittarius Birthday Bash & Bellydance Show with Americanistan.
Cozmic Pizza Stage, the Strand, 8th & Charnelton. It was a wonderful birthday party, with stunning dance performances
by Elena Villa and Asya. A surprise vocal performance by Dunyah in honor of the occasion, and fabulous cake from the Sweet
Life Bakery made for a delicious evening. Yum!
Sat. Dec 13, 2003. 4th Annual Eid/Hannukah Celebration,
presented by the Eugene Middle East Peace Group. Dinner, speakers, and live music by Americanistan, with Jonathan Seidel and
Maha Hamide. Lane Community College, main cafeteria. In spite of rain and snow, a sizable crowd turned out. Under the banner
"We Refuse to be Enemies," Jews, Muslims, and Christians ate together, sang, and danced together. Americanistan worked with
Jonathan Seidel and Maha Hamide to create several new songs and chants in three languages--Arabic, Hebrew, and English, as
well as a popular song of yearning for home, sung by Maha in Arabic. We were honored to participate in such a moving, uplifting,
and satisfying event. Ibrahim Hamide, along with the culinary arts students at LCC, created wonderfully delicious foods of
both Arabic and Jewish traditions--we had potato pancakes, hummos, and much more. The speakers were also great, and the whole
event was extraordinary. By the end of the night members of the band were gathered around a piano with Maha and an Arabic
gentlemen, playing and singing old Egyptian songs. It was a great ending to a fabulous night.
Sat. Oct. 25, 2003. Americanistan and Friends performed at the fabulous Iraila Mediterranean Rustica.
After the Aziza Bon Voyage show, the performers went over to Iraila's for an after-show fete. We entertained the entertainers.
It was bittersweet to sing and play for Aziza, as she leaves the Northwest for Montreal, Canada. We gave her the
best sendoff we could. The band played our hearts out. Elena Villa's soulful singing brought tears to Aziza's eyes.
Our mystery guest artist, Kula Ananda, from Corvallis, did a marvelous job of dancing and singing. She channeled the spirit
of the 1930's in her costume, dance, and songs. Elena made Aziza cry, and Kula Ananda made her smile. For more about Aziza,
Wed. Nov. 19, 2003. The Corvallis Belly Dance
Performance Guild hosted Americanistan's CD Release party and evening of dance. Old World Deli, Corvallis, 341 SW 2nd street,
phone number 541-752-8549. It was our first CD Release party, and we were so happy to be hosted by the CBDPG. We will return
in February for the celebration of their 15th year at the Deli. We love playing for all the very accomplished dancers there,
and were graced with several out-of-town performers that evening, as well.
Americanistan performed all three days at the 2003 Eugene
Celebration, Sept. 19-21! All of our gigs were a lot of fun--the festive crowds, the beautiful weather, and our wonderful
dancers. Cafe Paradiso on Friday night was packed with people, and we played for dancers of the Middle Eastern Dance Guild
of Eugene. Saturday Market is always a favorite of the band. The audience is lined up well before showtime, eager for the
performance to begin. And the four-hour "Celebration of World Music & Dance" at Cozmic Pizza was a gas. By the
end, I was so tired that I felt like a little kid who has been allowed to stay up past bedtime. I didn't want to miss out
on anything, and I didn't want to quit. I was still having fun but I was getting so tired I could barely function. Our thanks
to Alfredo and Jonathan Seidel, who spelled us for half an hour while they performed an awesome set of music and dance.
Saturday, July 26, 7-10pm. Drift Inn, Yachats, OR.
Americanistan and special guest dancers Elena
Villa and Angela Palmer performed two sets at the wonderful Drift Inn Restaurant.
The restaurant was packed, the band was all set
up, tuned, and ready to play. I looked around and I saw that the place was full of mainstream Americans on vacation at the
beautiful Oregon coast. I thought, "What are we doing here? These people don't know about this kind of music. They don't care
about it. What are we thinking?"
We began to play and the music was sounding good.
The people were eating but they were looking at us with looks of appreciation. Elena Villa came out and sang an old Spanish-Arabic
song. Her voice gave me goose bumps. The people applauded loudly. Then beautiful Angela Palmer danced so gracefully, followed
by Elena Villa in a fabulous Spanish-Arabic fusion piece. We finished the set and the audience crowded around. They were full
of questions and compliments. They wanted to know what our instruments were, and they loved the music and the dancing. They
were so appreciative and respectful. There were several families with young girls, and the little girls were wide-eyed and
excited. Hah! Those little girls will always remember the beautiful dancers they saw that night, and the exotic, soulful music
they heard. One little girl was so excited, she was dancing beside her table, mesmerized by the dancers.
After the second set, which featured Angela's
awesome sword dance and Elena's raks sharqi, we were again mobbed by interested, complimentary mainstream American tourists.
Hooray! We were a success after all.
Our thanks to our very talented dancers. Angela
Palmer recently won first place in the Goddess category at the Belly Dancer USA Competition in Canyonville, OR. She is a beautiful,
soulful dancer. Angela teaches ballet and Middle Eastern dance in Florence, OR.
Elena Villa is always a treat to watch, with her
beauty, her intensity, and her skillful fusion of Spanish and Arabic dance styling (See photo on Upcoming Events Page ).
Elena teaches and performs Flamenco and Middle Eastern Dance in Eugene, OR.
Saturday, July 19, 2003. Cozmic Pizza at the Strand
Grand Opening Bash, Eugene, OR. Wow! (I need to get a new word to express my enthusiasm!) What fun! A beautiful venue, with
lush murals, soothing colors on the walls, and so spacious and cool. In spite of the vast space (5,500 sq. ft.), The Strand
felt very comfortable and inviting, once the stage was in place with a large rug in front for the dancers, and lots of little
tables and chairs around. What an amazingly cool and beautiful venue! We sincerely wish the best of success to Cozmic Pizza,
Theo's, and the Strand. It was a pleasure to perform there. And the pizza is really really good--so delicious.
We had a nice crowd, awesome dancers, and enthusiastic
participation in the dance lessons and open dancing. Can't wait to go back and do it again!
Saturday, July 12, 2003. Zumwalt Park, the
official campground for the Oregon Country Fair. Wow! This was one of our favorite gigs of the year (so far)! Americanistan
was joined by seven wonderful dancers: From Corvallis--Lainie, Ananda, Leila, and Malika; from Eugene-- Zahra and Amy, and
from Seattle, Etana. Each of these dancers rocked! They were all priestesses, channels of goddess energy for all to see. Together
we created a sacred space of music and dance, "The Temple," (as we call it). The audience willingly stepped into the Temple
and shared that timelessness with us. They were an awesome audience. "It was the best Zumwalt ever!" declared Ananda. We certainly
hope to return next year. Afterhours at the campground was fabulous, too--we enjoyed musical jams with some wonderful players.
At one point we had a violin, mandolin, guitar, didgeridoo, and several singers in addition to our own dumbek, flute, and
harmonium. It was magical. And the fire dancers, the light snake, and the guy with the glowing clothes--very cool.
Live music, lovely dancers, a bonfire, the lake,
and happy campers. What could be better? For more info. about camping at Zumwalt, see http://members.aol.com/zumwaltcmp/index.html.