August Breathers

IMG_6827 (1)IMG_6816August kicked in with two concerts working in parallel. It allowed me to test my team, without me being on ground or even available to solve or help around:
Luana (my right hand) and the “minions” took care of Hiba Tawaji’s rehearsals and concert at Byblos International Festival, while I was working in Beirut with Mashrou’ Leila for this gig at Beirut Holidays in Biel.
I also got to initiate a friend in production on the Beirut concert. The result on both concerts was satisfying on our side, even though we hit a few bumps with the teams we’ve worked with.

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Most of the festival team was waiting for the final band to arrive, as they were all big fans.

IMG_7211 (1) IMG_7251I was highly grateful to discover that this amazing band was humble and down to earth, and so respectful and nice to the people working around and with them: Alt-J.
Some were disappointed by the live performance and their presence on stage, but I don’t know what people expect in the indie rock scene. The lights were stunning, the drummer’s performance was breath taking, and the whole band’s live music was really nice!
Sitting down before and after the show and talking about music, art and life with the band and the crew was a great finale to this August month.
I was really glad the team got to enjoy that, it was a small reward to all our interns and young stagehands after 2 months of hard work.
Plus, I got to introduce Melow to Joe, while talking about lyrics and pain and dealing with the pain this past year.

IMG_6971This month gave a bit more breathers than the last, and I got to witness a big bro, Rabih Salloum, getting married to the wonderful Sarah Hermez.
It was heartwarming and so unique, especially when everyone respected the “sneakers” dress code and grandmas showed up in dresses and adidas.

At the same time, I’m really proud to say that Diane, a young 4 a Cause volunteer, is managing our next event, which is a bit different from the rest, and supporting an awesome cause about cardiac arrest with young athletes: Foot 4 a Cause, supporting Remy Rebeiz Young Heart Foundation.
If you’re in Beirut and play soccer, join us on September 6th and support the cause.

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On a small note, I started working at a bar, just for the fun of it, and to have a bit more on my hands when I get breathers. Because in the end, we’re not young to have breathers.

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“February Made Me Shiver” – Part 1

I have been sitting for at least 30 min at Kissproof playing with a puppy instead of getting myself to write this post, since I don’t even know how to begin anymore, having been absent for at least three months.

So maybe I start gradually.

February fell hard on all of us, with the loss of a close friend/sister/little apprentice/champion. And I don’t know if it was that or other painful experiences that gave me the drive to distract my mind with work, but I guess it has been working well for most of the time.
Little one, I was sitting with your godmother at your house. We had a song together a few years back. Don McLean’s American Pie. She was in Dubai when you left us, and she sent me the song. But on that night, two weeks later, in your house, she said to me: Look at the lyrics. “February made me shiver”.
That simple coincidence pinched our heart and made us smile at the same time.

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A colleague of mine got me in a production team for a future show called RKOD produced by Iron Heyoka. I got to taste the difference between what you can call film production and show production. It’s safe to say I prefer concerts and music. The rush is just bigger.
Not to be unfair or mean, the work was interesting, the team was fun to work with but… there’s just that running-around-not-sitting-still-for-even-a-second that you don’t get in concerts that I’m just addicted to.
However, brace yourselves for RKOD which will be out when the time is right.

rtrippingThe reason why I had to work on RKOD was for me to understand how a TV show works, since the surprise I have been teasing about on this blog is another TV show I have been dying to reveal. But in order to deliver a good product, good work should be done in the right time.

However the picture can maybe make you guess a bit, since I document most of what I do for this blog. So, that was another project I worked on for the past three months in collaboration with Iron Heyoka.
This one is also going to honor you Melow.

IMG_1689Speaking of Melow, February made us shiver, but also woke us up in many ways. Melanie was a volunteer at 4 a Cause in its early beginning. Her sister and some of her friends joined the team recently, and the old ones all agreed that our next project will go to fund a charity organization her family is trying to open in her name. She believed in helping the less fortunate, she worked with charities organizations and always fought for what was right. We don’t have more information on what is coming up next, but we thought we could star
t by raising funds for the upcoming project, which we trust will reflect the same guidelines we go by. She went by the same.

10995704_929496773757156_3705217952851407934_oSo we threw a party at Behind the Green Door, and we marked our t-shirts with her name on it.

I taught Melanie back in scouts, that in the indian tribes, the right arm was believed to be the strong arm because it was located on the heart’s side.
So we put her name on the right sleeve.

Another good news related to 4 a Cause is Sara Khatib’s dream coming true.
Sara Khatib was an inspirational young woman who left us too early last summer. 4 a Cause threw a concert in her name if you remember Music 4 Sara. You can actually check out a quick sum up of the event on this video produced by Hadrien Bechara.
One of her goals was to open a support group for amputees in Lebanon, since she couldn’t find one herself.
With our help and yours, the funds raised during that concert went straight to her family who worked hard on opening: Look Forward, Sara Khatib’s cancer and amputee association for the youth. Make sure to check it out, and like the page to support this incredible initiative.

On another production side, I have been hired to take over a job I can’t find a right title to with Buzz Productions, for the Byblos International Festival.
I was usually outsourced on this festival as a freelance production assistant these past two years.
This summer, I’ll be working with the routings, schedules and the care of the artists and their teams.
Buzz Productions already announced their first two acts: John Legend and The Script.
The rest of the line up will be revealed soon.

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This post has been going for too long now, and I should cut it in half, in order not to bore the life out of you.
The other half will be following this upcoming week.

 

Final Gigs at Byblos

Hadn’t had the time to get on here and post a few updates, so you’ll be getting pictures and notes about 4 concerts at once and the prep for the last one!

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Stromae was off the hook. One of the greatest performances I’ve seen. It wasn’t just about the music; visuals, animations, costumes, stage presence… everything. The crew and band were even easy and down to earth. We grabbed a few drinks afterwards. Some people keep a warm heart even with a big rise to the top.

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The day after, an old cute guy was walking around the site in the morning: Mulatu. Very happy and modest man. Grabbing me by the arm while I was working, asking me random questions like we’ve known each other for a long time.
Had a great work time with Ibrahim Maalouf’s production manager too. The change-over was a bit complicated but I pulled it off with the team. Ibrahim gave one hell of a show!

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Guy Manoukian’s concert was the last one we just finished. A bit more work on that, having 38 musicians on stage and 5 risers. This band even had two days of rehearsal prior to the concert. So we had longer time to work on the production for that. A special wink to Mehdi who  insisted on having a picture on the blog: Hands off that expensive piano dude!

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Last but not least: Beirut.
Started loading in the backline and risers about two days ago. We also had Postcards, our local opening band for that concert, sound checking yesterday. You will be surprised with some new songs tonight. Always loved that band, they helped out a year ago with a 4 a Cause charity concert.

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From the Netherlands to Belgium

epica 2epica 3During Byblos International Festival, you see a lot of crews and people from different styles and different countries come in. You meet them, work with them and sometimes take a few drinks at the end (when you’re not passed out after work).
What I’ve realized is that all these people are nice. Whether they’re screaming death and scary lyrics into the mic, or just cursing at the public. The act differs but the heart is always there.
Epica’s band and crew were heart-warming people.

 

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I was actually pleasantly suprised at the music the guitarist Isaac was playing during soundcheck and rehearsal: sweet soft beautiful acoustic tunes…
And then, four hours later he was screaming in the mic and banging his head hard with the crowd.

Two days later we’re prepping for Stromae’s concert.
It has just sold out. The show will be huge, but also very hard for us. We have to make sure security measures are studied and respected.

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And the small whisper at the end: illustration surprise coming up. I’m keeping my word to myself.

 

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Step Out At The Cross

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Everything started off great with Byblos:

We’re a team of 9 people, including two runners and 3 interns. And we have about 3 sound guys from Delta Sound. Amazing people to work with.
The team seems to be synchronized. Everyone does their job, and even take initiative to help out on the obvious tasks.

Setting everything up, welcoming the grand piano like it depends on your life (it actually does). Tuning it, setting up the orchestra stage, helping out in setting the backstage up, making sure we’re ready for the doors to open on time…

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The opening night was smooth, we launched the festival with Lang Lang.

What’s amazing is watching and hearing 70 musicians tuning all at once: complete chaos right before they all play to one tune, one note… wow.

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On the other hand, due to different ways of working, different views on priorities… some clashes were encountered.
I worked hard for several months to launch Rubik in Beirut. The launching night was cool. But the road ends for me here on that.

Just following this was my trip to Paris. Working on the first days with Zuhair Murad for his fashion show. I needed to see something different. Everything gets prepared in 2 days. Casting the models, fitting the dresses to each model, meetings for sound, lights and music mixes. Hostesses on ground and security… All for a 10 min show. But that show… blows your mind. Every detail gives you goose bumps: the right music, the right model, the right light chosen for a single dress.

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Other than that, I advise you to visit Ballroom and Le Comptoir General whenever you’re in Paris for a drink. Weekends are better.

Loop The Summer

Last week I got a call from my old boss, JC, to work on Byblos Festival‘s production again with the Buzz team. And of course, I can’t turn that down. The team is nice and the line up is amazing: Beirut, Massive Attack, Stromae, Lang Lang, Yanni (coming back this year – one of the coolest crews I worked with, so can’t wait to see them again), Epica, Marcel Khalifé, Mulatu Astatke, Ibrahim Maalouf and Guy Manoukian.
Delta Sound are on the job again too, and I got Edith and Georgy on it this time as my help with Savio and Roy. July and August will be good.

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But first thing first, I’m finishing up the last deal I’ve got with Eduvation schools for the kids’ illustrations this month. And finalizing some details on my surprise projects I’ve been keeping from you for so long.

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And here’s a small reminder of 4 a Cause‘s two years anniversary we had with a lot of our supporters and generous artists at B018.

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