Kuwaiti Drum Pro
Dahbour has done his homework, but he is feeling guilty
for not having had time to pick up his tabla (doumbek) for two
days. He came to my home studio in Martinez, California on February
1, 2006 to teach ten eager Bellydancers how to dance to live drum
solos. Accompanying him on percussion were Zaid Ali and
Nathan Craver on riqq and duff.
to teaching us about drum solos, Loay also took some time to share
with us his valuable insights as a musician after working for
the past thirteen years with hundreds of San Francisco Bay Area
Bellydancers. During his two-hour workshop, Loay taught us a great
deal of useful information. After the workshop, I took a few minutes
to interview him to learn more about the man behind the drum:
is a professional drummer who specializes in Middle Eastern music.
As a young boy, the first time that he saw a live drummer outside
of a café, he knew that drumming was what he wanted to do. The
fact that he has achieved this dream speaks to his passion, his
resourcefulness, and his commitment to his music.
He was born
and raised in Kuwait by very conservative parents. His father
was a professional photographer, and he planned for Loay to join
him in the family business. Their parents expected Loay and his
brothers to work with their father in his photography studio after
school every afternoon. Loay saved his pocket change, and he bought
his first drum without telling anyone in his family. Then, through
a friend of a friend, he found himself a drumming teacher. Going
to lessons involved more subterfuge. He had to convince his father
that he had to stay late at school.
was more problematic: He convinced one of his sympathetic older
sisters to allow him to practice his drumming in her car — parked
far away from their house and hidden from where his parents
might see or hear him play.
to keep his drumming a secret for a long time, but eventually
his mother found out. She, too, kept his secret,
but she urged him to beware of his father finding out. Then one
evening while Loay was sitting in the living room watching TV
with his family, he unconsciously began to drum out Arabic rhythms
on his stomach. His father came and stood over him and asked him,
"Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?" Through his
charm and a good deal of luck, Loay managed to avoided his father’s
wrath and keep his treasured drum! He continued to study and practice
his drumming, but out of respect for his parents’ wishes, he never
performed his music while he was living in Kuwait.
from High School in Kuwait, and soon after, moved
to Jordan for eight months. Two of his older brothers were
attending college in the United States, and Loay came and joined
them in San Francisco thirteen years ago.
of arriving, he played his first gig: a sold out New Year’s Eve
party with over three hundred guests. He said that he was perspiring
from nervousness when he and the band began to play, but he soon
forgot his anxiety as he became absorbed in the music. Loay has
been making a name for himself within the Arabic music community
and the Bellydance community ever since.
that he has been very fortunate to have had the help and mentoring
of many kind individuals, too numerous to name here. Additionally,
Loay credits his teachers with helping him to grow musically.
In the San Francisco area, he has studied with master instructors
Elias Lammam , Tony Lammam ,and
Additionally, he credits his regular performances as drummer with
the Georges Lammam Ensemble with helping him to continue
to grow in his depth of understanding and performing Arabic music.
hard to continue to improve his musicianship. He feels that any
artist—whether a musician, a dancer, a painter, or a writer, must
continue to study and grow – or they will stagnant and backslide.
While his first love is classical Arabic music, he recently began
listening to American jazz music and exploring playing jazz with
the new band Sababa. The idea of blending Arabic’s rhythms
and maqams (modal scales) with Western jazz’s cool and free flowing
sensibilities excites him musically.
has achieved his dream of being a professional drummer. He is
that and more. He is a talented, articulate, and clear-minded
musician and instructor! During his two-hour workshop, he showed
us the importance of doing our homework! As Middle Eastern dancers,
we must study the Arabic rhythms, and become fluent in them.
to live drum solos involves a conversation between the drummer
and the dancer. This conversation cannot begin to take place
if the drummer and the dancer do not speak the same rhythmic
to teach more workshops, for both drummers and dancers. He has
a great deal to offer, and I look forward to hearing more from
is currently performing in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Loay Dahbour plays regularly with the Georges
Lammam Ensemble. They will be appearing weekly at Panchamama
beginning in mid-March 2006
Loay, Hussain Dixon, and Nazir
currently playing on Fridays from 9-11:30 ish at Yaya's at 2424
will be hosting another similiar workshop Wednesday evening,
March 1st, 2006 with Elias Lammam titled: Accordion
Baladi: Why, What, and How to Dance It! Contact Yosifah
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