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Tea with Culture

Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Entries in The Music Room (10)


Live music gigs this month at The Music Room



The Music Room in Dubai is quite a popular venue in Dubai. Although it is known as a venue that mostly hosts cover bands, it is it also a venue where many local bands get to peform live, and once in a while we also get indie bands from abroad. 

This month, The Music Room will host not one, but three international live acts:

  • Alsarah and the Nubatones on Wednesday 9th March (this will be their second time here, they performed live at the same venue last summer)
  • Nouvelle Vague, yes, THE Novelle Vague, on Friday, 11th March
  • Sherazade and LavionRose on Saturday, 19th March

This is an extremely eclectic line up, we have East African retro pop, cover versions of popular songs in bossa nova and pop music sung in Russian, Arabic, French, English, Armenian and Turkish.


Alsarah and the Nubatones on Wednesday, 9th March

East African retro-pop from the acclaimed Sudenese-born singer. Alsarah, is a Sudanese born singer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist. Born in the capital city of Khartoum, where she spent the first 8 years of her life, she relocated to Taez, Yemen, but was forced to move to the US in 1994 when a civil war broke out. Now residing in Brooklyn, NY, she features in various projects such as the Nile Project and was featuring on their acclaimed album Aswan.

Alsarah and the Nubatones came together out of a collective love for Nubian music and a genuine belief that Soul transcends all cultural and linguistic barriers. Inspired by the pentatonic scale they blend a selection of Nubian 'songs of return' from the 1970s-today with original material and traditional music of central Sudan. Their set is a musical journey through diaspora and migration from an urban lense.

When: Wednesday, 9th March. 6pm - 1am
Ticket: AED 100 on the door.

Event page.



Nouvelle Vague on Friday, 11th March

Cult Bossa Nova band Nouvelle Vague will perform in Dubai for the first time on Friday, 11 March.  The band record cover versions of cult songs like 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and 'Ever Fallen In Love' but in a Bossa Nova style, giving the classic songs a totally new sound. To date, they've sold nearly a million records across the world, and had millions of Youtube views.

The band also heavily borrow from the New Wave scene, and the Nouvelle Vague film genre to create a truly unique sound.

When: Friday, 11th March. 9pm till late. The show starts from 9pm followed by an after show party.
Ticket: Starting from AED250 (including one free drink), buy tickets here.

Event page.


Sherazade and LavionRose on Saturday, 19th March


Russian-Algerian singer Sherazade and her musicians from LavionRose will take Dubai’s music haven The Music Room on Saturday March 19. Brought by Alliance Française Dubai and for the first time in Dubai, the band will perform their latest tracks: a superb blend of world music and pop.

Sherazade’s vocals are an echo to her life: vibrant and sensual, at the crossroads of mixed cultures. Her musical identity is deeply rooted in world music and shaped by an influence of varied music genres:  Russian and Eastern music, traditional or classical, lyrical song with an affinity for blues and soul. The lyrics, sung in Russian, Arabic, French, English, Armenian or Turkish are more than an invitation to travel. Bold, sincere, they resound within us through their universal side.

LavionRose are five musicians who have toured stages around the world playing pop rock blended with world music. With LavionRose, Sherazade offers new sound textures from urban electric to flavorful and mystic. Their tracks such as Arménia, Palmita, Ocian, Louliya intertwine to draw a contemporary geography, both provocative and seductive.

LavionRose is Sébastien Duval on bass, John Eudes Solignac Lecomte on drums, Manuel Decocq on violin and accordion, Jean Claude Meurisse on piano and vocals, Jerome Eye Saleys on guitar and sound.

When: Saturday, 19th March. Doors open at 7pm, music starts at 9pm.

Ticket: AED 50 (available at The Music Room and at Alliance Française Dubai)

 Event page.



The Music Room is in the Majestic Hotel, Mankool Road, Bur Dubai (location map)



DUST presents Flamingods in Dubai on 22nd October 2014


DUST is a hosting a gig this week that I am very excited about, and if you live in Dubai and interested in new music, you should be too.

is a band that consists of members based in Dubai and in the UK. After touring across the UK, they will be performing in Dubai for the first time this Wednesday, 22nd October at The Music Room.

Kamal Rasool, one of the founding members describes the band as "culturally confused" and according to the band's Facebook page, they "like to make noise with instruments collected from around the world".

Their latest album Hyperborea has been receiving good reviews. The band gets compared to  Animal Collective in almost every article I read about them, their music videos are mash ups of clips found on YouTube, and according to DUST, we should expect a "night of Indie, Rock, Funk, Psych, Punk, Electronic, Dub, Latin, Afro, Arabic, Asian flavours".

Read this interview on The Quietus which will give you a sense of what the band is about, and you can listen to (and buy) their music here

Flamingods will be supported by Parallel Sound System,  a "three piece Electro Dream Pop" and DubHigh, a four piece "Dub-Experimental band from Dubai" and DUST and Bad House Party DJs.

I am REALLY looking forward to this gig. Below is a taste of the music you will hear on the night (links to each band's Soundcloud page is added at the end of this post).





Parallel Sound System






Event details
Date: Wednesday, 22nd October 2014. Doors open at 8pm, show starts from 8.30pm
Venue: The Music Room, Majestic Hotel, Mankhool Road, Dubai (location map)   
Ticket:  AED 60 (venue is only for anyone aged 21+)
Phone: +9714 359 8888
Event page on Facebook  



The Black Lips and Lazzy Lung in Dubai

Inside The Music Room

It doesn't happen often, but once in a while, a non-mainstream band comes to Dubai and the non-mainstream music fans in Dubai get excited and turn up in full force.

This happened last September (apologies for the belated update) when we had The Black Lips and Lazzy Lung visting our shores, part of their Middle East tour.

The concert took place in The Music Room and it was fun, but the sound system was not up to standard.

Here's a video that was released a few days ago showing highlights of The Black Lips tour in the region, featuring Erbil, Dubai and Cairo.

The Dubai gig involved a mosh pit and crowd surfing, but I managed to stay safe and sound on the side of the stage, and took some of these photos. I know these aren't your typical concert photos, but hey, who needs typical?

Lazzy Lung

Lazzy Lung

Lazzy Lung

Jared Swilley from The Black Lips

The Black Lips

The Black Lips

The Black Lips

Ian Saint Pé from The Black Lips

(All photos taken with my beloved LC-A+ camera.)


DUST x PRISM present Doc Daneeka at The Music Room on 29th June 

Doc Daneeka will be playing in Dubai this Friday, 29th June, thanks to club night hosts DUST and PRISM. He will be playing at The Music Room along with Dubai based DUST and PRISM DJs, Mr YetiPuzzlEssarai and Wriggly Scott

Doc Daneeka is based in Berlin but originally from Swansea. He ust finished touring in the US and Canada Tour with Addison Groove, alongside dates across the UK, Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand. One of his most recent gigs was at Sonar in Barcelona.  
Doc Daneeka's brand of syncopated beats, polyrhythms and bass are almost impossible to avoid getting physical to.

His music has gained support from artists and DJs such as Mary Anne Hobbs, Jackmaster, Oneman, Sinden, Skream, Gilles Peterson, James Zabiela, Martyn, Roska & Untold.

I've been listening to his music for the past few days and it's all very groovy. If you want to listen and dance to some new music in Dubai, I strongly you suggest you go to The Music Room this Friday.  




Event details
Date: Friday, 29th June 2012, 9.00pm-3.00am
Venue: The Music Room, Majestic Hotel, Bur Dubai (location map)
Ticket: AED 60  


RBMA x DUST present Benji B & Nickodemus at The Music Room on 23rd March


DUST and Reb Bull Music Academy (RBMA) are collaborating this month to bring us renowned DJs Benji B and Nickodemus on Friday, 23rd March.

Red Bull Music Academy is a symposium of music and knowledge. Ever year, aspiring and inspiring music makers from more than 30 countries meet in a new city to swap creative visions in lectures, studio sessions, and take part in signature concerts and club-nights.

RBMA will be in Dubai this Friday where they will host a master class to an invited group of musicians, producers and DJs from across the United Arab Emirates conducted by Benji B and Nickodemus who will share their music expertise with the attendees. 


Later on Benji B and Nickodemus along with DUST DJs, DJ Solo aka Wriggly Scott (Another Music), James Locksmith (JembeMusic) and Mr. Yeti (Ten Thousand Yen) will be performing at The Music Room

Additionally, Nickodemus will also work on the Dubai chapter of his Global Minute project which will have local artists perform over one his tracks and be part of an exhibition and international release. 

A GLOBAL MINUTE  is a multi-media Hip Hop project that has been started by DJ/Music Producer Nickodemus and artist Justin Carty. Through music, paintings and video from various cities throughout the world, they hope to get a closer insight of these cities, seen through the eyes of local MCs and artists they collaborate with along the way. 

The aim of the project is to finish a one hour album and video as well as paintings of every MC/vocalist involved. Here's the video for "A New York Minute" and I'm looking forward to seeing the Dubai version. 

I will leave you with this Benji B mix recommended by DJ Solo, a taste of what to expect on Friday night. 

Event details
Date: Friday, 23rd Friday. Doors open at 9pm. 
Venue: The Music Room, Majestic Hotel, Bur Dubai (location map)
Tickets: AED 60



DUST: The Beirut Groove Collective at The Music Room on 17th February

DUST is a recent addition to the party scene in Dubai, aiming to host events that aims to provide music lovers a different experience with a diverse music policy ranging from hip hop, to boogie, to bass music and back again. Basically what you can't experience at many clubs in the city.

This month DUST will be hosting their event at The Music Room on Friday 17th Februay, presenting The Beirut Groove Collective, "purveyours of the finest in Rare Groove, Funk, Soul, Hip hop, & Disco". The night will also feature the DUST DJs - Megadon Betamax, James Locksmith, DJ Solo aka Wriggly Scott, Ian Yeti.

Here's a short clip from DUST's launch night last September to give you a taste of what to expect. 

The Beirut Groove Collective (BGC) was established in 2009 by two of Lebanon’s pioneer DJs - Ernesto Chahoud & Rami Obeid, with the support of other artists - Ramsay Short , VJ Nadim Saoma, Filmaker Helena Forsell and painter/trombonist Tom Young.

The goal of the BGC was and is simple: to document, promote and preserve the best in African and African-influenced musical traditions - particularly Black American musical strains - jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, funk, rare-groove and hip-hop.

BGC began a humble attempt to do something new in Beirut - organizing “house-party” events with a premium on utilizing unique alternative, community-oriented spaces such as a ramshackled fairground as a means of drawing parallels to the underground funk and soul parties that used to occur in the major urban centers of America and Africa in the 1970s.

Here's a short film about BGC and hope it will encourage you to check out their gig at The Music Room. I know I'm looking forward to it.


Event details
Date: Friday, 17th February. Doors open a 9pm.
Venue: The Music Room, Majestic Hotel, Bur Dubai (location map)
Tickets: AED 50


For the Love of Music Music Series

For the Love of Music is a new music concert series brought to us by Dubai based Co-Sign, an independent label and entertainment agency and Kilma Studios.

The first series is happening on Wednesday, 12th October at The Music Room in Dubai.

Click to read more ...


Music Monday - Mashrou' Leila

Mashrou' Leila (مشروع ليلى) is a band from Lebanon that started off as an experiment and has been steadily gaining popularity and exposure over the past few years. I started to listen to their music very recently and I'm enjoying their songs and and videos. If you are in Dubai, you can watch the band performing live at The Music Room (Majestic Hotel)

They sing in Arabic and their music is a blend of Eastern and Western influences. Unlike many music acts from the region that try so hard to be 'very fusion' and just end up looking and feeling very contrived, Mashrou' Leila seem to be very at ease in what they do and I'm looking forward to seeing them live. 

Read this recent interview with Mashrou' Leila on and enjoy the following songs and videos. 

Raksit Leila / رقصة ليلى (Leila's Dance)

Fasateen / فساتين (Dresses)

Ghadan Yawman Afdal / غداً يوماً أفضل (Tomorrow is a better day)



Here's a small essay by Raafat Majzoub that really gives you a great insight into the band:

Mashrouʼ Leila is not a bandʼs name. It is not a proper noun per se; Mashrouʼ Leila is Arabic for ʻan overnight projectʼ lusting out a microphone, a violin, a bass, two guitars, drums and keyboards. It started out as a music workshop at the American University of Beirut in 2008, an open platform for students of architecture and design, somewhere to experiment with sounds and make things audible. Haig Papazian, Carl Gerges, Hamed Sinno, Omaya Malaeb, Andre Chedid, Firas Abou Fakher and Ibrahim Badr have enjoyed this sound fetish savoring its façade of nonchalance and feeding on its lack of genre – sustaining their collective as Mashrouʼ Leila, an experiment.

You can hear Leila, cascading melts of masculine vocals only suspended with thrusts of violin, beats and bass – attacked by neurotic melody that means no harm – sometimes tender, even sometimes on pause. Through the music, you can smell where Leila has been, in bed sheets, on sidewalks, jasmines in rifles and spilled coffee on dresses as she made you play with aubergines, dancing her dance.

Music has constantly been their place to play with things, to match and mis-match, a project. In the various performances, Mashrouʼ Leila is a constant attempt to taste and produce, more than happy to harvest anyone from the audience as a guest in their encores. They have performed around Lebanon since 2008, playing in various venues in Beirut, taking over supposed public piazzas as well as clubs, pubs, hybrids and the such – they also played in Zahle, Sour, Jounieh, Saida and Deir el Qamar, each of which pushed forward their thinking about how to go about their music, lyrics and performance.

It is only when Mashrouʼ Leila goes live, that you can actually catch a glimpse of Leila. As it talks to you of Beirut, the city that tastes of the absurd, the product of its day-to-day experiences, its stubborn security and lack of the latter, its musical bombshells, incoherent sexuality and thrusting pleasure…narcotic pain – as it brings forward hints of Arabic Tarab, rock, to folk pop, electro, you can see Leila in every man and woman in the silent- come-raving audience. In this trajectory, they participated in music workshops and concerts in Amman and Cairo to maneuver their way into a pan-Arab music scene, to know and to announce, more importantly to grow, musically.

In March 2009, Mashrouʼ Leila won the Lebanese Modern Music Contest jury prize and public vote organized by Radio Liban in partnership with CCF, Incognito and the Basement. They have recorded their debut album with B-root Productions, which was launched in December 2009. The music in the album is a reclamation of the aftertaste; sequel-ing a dose of Beirut. 


Music Monday - Lumi

© Tanya Traboulsi

Lumi is the featured band for this week's Music Monday. They will be performing in Dubai this Thursday, 3rd March at The Music Room (details added below). I've seen them perform live a few years ago, also in Dubai and they're great fun. If you like a electro/dance music with a dash of punk, then don't miss this gig.

As the youngest and most exciting band on the Lebanese scene, Lumi embodies the glamor and the chaotic dynamic of their city Beirut.

Lumi, comes from the French word lumiere, meaning light, which represents an optimistic response to the gloomy environment they are surrounded by, a call to live freely and to fully enjoy it. 

Marc Codsi and Mayaline Hage started Lumi in 2005 with the need of expressing their exciting, joyful and sometimes dramatic days in Beirut!

Here are a couple of their tracks. I love their energy and really looking forward to watching them again. See you there.


Lumi - Taste of Life

  Watashi no (Features The Piece)

Interview with Lumi:

Video: Don't F*** with My Cat


Event details:
Date: Thursday, 3rd March 2011 from 10pm-3am. There will be two bands playing before Lumi (Rock Spiders and Shine).
Venue: The Music Room at The Majestic Tower Hotel, Mankhool Road in Bur Dubai (location map)
Tickets: Dhs 50
Phone: +9714 359 8888
Event on Facebook


Music Monday - Republica

Republica: Tim Dorney, Saffron, Andy Todd (image from Gulf News)
This week's Music Monday is dedicated to Republica. Remember them? Described as a "techno-pop punk rock" band, they had two hits in the 1990s, Ready to Go and Drop Dead Gorgeous. Well, it turns out they will be performing in Dubai on 13th January at The Music Room (Majestic Hotel). Besides their two hits, I really have no idea what else will they sing. Their website has no updated information and I'm worried their set will comprise of various versions of their two songs. Which will probably be hilarious and weird.

Ready to Go is one of my favourite songs from the 1990s and always puts me in a good mood. I also remember loving lead singer Saffron's hairdo, but alas, my curly hair would never allow this slick look .

I'm contemplating going to their show, but will probably depend on my mood on the day. For now, I'm just happy to jump and sing along...

"It's a crack, I'm back yeah standing / On the rooftops having it / Baby I'm ready to go / I'm back and ready to go / From the rooftops shout it out, shout it out"