End of the Road, Heading Home

fullsizerender-3The last shows I can talk about for April were extraordinary.
One was in Lebanon, on which my Black Howl team hopped: the Beirut Madinati fundraising concert. That group was different, fighting for what was right, gave a lot of hope for Lebanese people, inspired change. So you could imagine how honored I was when they called me to get Black Howl on board. I wish I had been in Beirut for that, but this was the first project where I tested my team. Let’s say I was proud all the way from the US.
The second was in NY, and I got to be on board of the production team, with Boschi Events, delivering the We Are Family Foundation‘s gala dinner, honoring U2’s Bono and President Jimmy Carter.

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I also had the chance to gather a few bands for a private dinner. Make sure you check out A Case For Brooklyn.

May was about relaxing, saying goodbye to NC, FL and NY, having a pit stop in London, embracing friends that live around the world…

I was fortunate enough to join Jason to learn how to prepare the gear for a tour. Jason is Two Door Cinema Club‘s current stage and backline manager, and when I’m around, he always has me on board, teaching me a lot of things we don’t have the chance to learn in Lebanon.

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The last night to my long trip was more than perfect: a friend I met on Byblos, another roadie, called up and told me he had an extra ticket to Radiohead’s sold out show and the after party. So I tagged along Robbie Williams’ and Muse’s roadies and went to see one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Maybe Radiohead being my favorite band had a lot to play in that.

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The summer in Lebanon was near, and that meant tackling our festive seasons with the numerous concerts coming up and being fully active again.

The first 4 months of 2016 were about travel, but it also was about therapy, getting lost in order to find myself, discover and learn new things. As I was settling back in Beirut, I noticed I didn’t like sticking to my old routine of going out to the same places every day and night. Beirut could have that toll on you, as it’s small and you all know the same people, who eventually hang out in the same places. Waiting for big work to kick in, I tried to embrace daylight rather than nightlife, I met new people, I put a stop to daily bars and dinners… I visited places in Lebanon I hadn’t been to in a long time, I camped more, giving nature the time I always thought it deserved. More importantly, I crossed off a bucket list point, and a fear I wanted to get over: Climbing.

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And as I can never stay away from work, I had been preparing a concert in Lebanon with my team, while I was abroad: Adonis at the Beirut Spring Festival. It was sort of relaxing to have a team I could count on, and just land in and see them set up and get things done to deliver a good show.

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A Road Semester

IMG_2705 (1)IMG_2842Lebanon is a small cozy beautiful country. It’s also very corrupt and chaotic unfortunately.

So I packed a bag and booked a ticket for about a month, to go help out at Zuhair Murad’s Paris Fashion Show in January, pass by London a bit to see friends, and end up in NY for two weeks.

It’s now been three months that I left my small room (and my guitar, mind you), and I changed my ticket back about two times maybe. I’ve also not been staying put in the same place for more than 10 days. My friends have been more than helpful and welcoming, as some of you know, Lebanese people are known for their hospitality, refusing I’d take a place of my own.

I’m waiting for my flight out to North Carolina to visit my cousin. And I thought I hadn’t written here in a while and my freelance illustrations can wait a good 20 min, while I give this an update, just to not forget the beginning of my 2016.

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I’ve learned a bit more about lights in NY at le Poisson Rouge, allowing me to know what the next step would be on this particular road. I’ve been learning about music production too, giving me more insight on what I use in my daily work on stage, whether it’s about mics and cables or amplitude and frequency (and all those fancy technical words). I’ve been also working on my graphic skills, landing some clients here in NY, remembering my student years with branding and layouts…

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IMG_4930Thanks to Amy from the alt-J crew, I was able to join Boschi events as a production assistant and work on Three Dot Dash’s Just Peace Summit, a wonderful initiative by Nile Rodgers’ We Are Family Foundation. They basically round up 30 teenagers from around the world who have initiated projects that help bring peace to their communities.
We’ve also launched the Black Howl website. Black Howl is a community of freelancers, whose goal is to round up our clients under the same hub and keep the freelancers free. Make sure to check it out, and if you’d be so kind to show your support on all our social media platforms.

 

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It hasn’t been all work and no play though. We’ve seen Coeur de Pirate, and she’s even more mesmerizing live than on her records. My good friend Jason, and Jack even got me backstage at the Foals and Cage the Elephant concert in Rochester in March. It’s been so long since I’ve seen great rock, and a crowd that is that crazy. I’ve passed by Miami, saw the amazing Wynwood walls. If you ever go to that side of the world, make sure you try the alligator bites at Kush, and go to Space on saturday nights.

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We Howled

12191244_10153700606524441_3270678984639402925_o12184115_10153711101029441_1532758742879931641_oOctober and November mainly focused on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the original Broadway musical show.

I couldn’t unfortunately take a single picture of Disney’s Magic, but here are some I could show you.

I could have never imagined dealing with so many problems on a daily basis. At the same time, it makes me so proud of having a team of people working as hard as myself.
We met some great people on this project: the difference between working a concert and a musical is the amount of time you spend with the same team. We’ve hung out and worked with this group for 3 weeks, give or take.

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In addition to that, I launched my company (at last) at the end of the show: make sure you visit Black Howl.

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It’s a hub of freelancers, mainly working in the creative and production departments.

Another good news about these 2 months I could share today is my certificate of Music Business, passed after taking online courses with Berklee.

As for 4 a Cause, we party this Friday for Global Smile Foundation at Behind the Green Door. You can donate to this cleft lip palate cause through ihjoz.

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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.

2014 Ended with Sara, a Tour and Some Sketching

Last day of 2014, summing it up with some pretty awesome projects:

Mashrou’ Leila‘s tour added a last and additional date in Napoli. The people were nice, the hotel was genuinely beautiful, Napoli was unique and hardcore, we even got a day to visit Rome at the very beginning. I would recommend anyone who visits Napoli to go try Pizzeria de Michele: Small place, big line and an amazing pizza!

The band had a lecture at the university of Napoli, on the morning of the concert. I think it was interesting for the students to know a bit more about how music in the middle east is different from Europe and America, especially the impact it can have. The room was full, questions were asked and opinions were discussed.

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The concert was organized by the municipality in Plazza del Gesu (if I’m not mistaking) and seeing people get closer to the stage, get off of their cafe chairs and rounding up to enjoy the music was very cool to witness. The boys gave the closing concert for the Cultural Forum of Napoli.

Back in Lebanon, I had to finalize some deals and details with the 4 a Cause team and sponsors to make Sara Khatib’s concert happen. We had a few bumps on the road, but I think her friends and family enjoyed the event. It was too emotional for some, but hey, we were there to celebrate her life, through music, film and pictures.

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Apart from that, I’ve been sketching up on the road while on tour, but also took a decision to prepare something good, blowing up colors on canvas. Let’s see where this goes. Especially that a gallery contacted me to see if they could be a fit for my work. Colors will splash.

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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.