It was 10 years ago that I performed in Beirut. Why did I take so long to go back and play? Lots of factors really. After all, I was always in a band situation, never a solo performer until only a few years ago.
The opportunity seemed ripe, considering the amount of work and effort I was putting into this blues thing. How far can someone go with the blues? A genre that continues to dwindle in the overall scheme of things?
I got the approval of Fete de la Musique a month back. It was the comeback I was looking for after a decade of absence from the Lebanese music scene.
The next step would be to assemble a band. Like I normally do things, I have my friends and network of musicians. I was fortunate enough, considering how busy everyone would be on that night (92 bands were playing), I reunited with Toufic who was the drummer with me in the Mojolaters Blues Band before we returned to Lebanon 4 years back.
Next I had the versatile and laid back Joe on guitars, who was essential in filling both the role of lead and rhythm.
Given the time constraints and busy schedules, I was not able to get other people on board. A power trio it would have to be.
Under tension and anxiety, and also having an extremely powerful band (Funky Blues Brothers), incidentally fronted by the French Ambassador no less, led me to almost crumble. I mean, these guys have about 30 years of playing experience, not to mention some of the best musicians in Lebanon, and having more members on stage to fill up the sound.
To counter this, I made a rapport with the audience, telling them my story of being here, cracking some jokes here and there.
Our setlist was:
1) Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock N Roll - Muddy Waters
2) My Babe - Little Walter
3) How Blue Can You Get - BB King
4) La Grange - ZZ Top
5) Got My Mojo Workin' - Muddy Waters
My tension eased once the first opening notes were played, and when everything gelled together. By the 3rd song we were in full force. Thankfully we pulled off a great performance and the crowd was very supportive and engaging, especially when they were singing along in "Got My Mojo Workin'.
Thanks to Fete de la Musique and to Beirut for having me again after all these years, to my friends and family who came to the show in support. I'm back in Kuwait now with the blues as I write this, but I hope to be back again soon.