November 6, 2013

Oh, it’s been a while again…

I wanted to write last Sunday morning… I went to a concert organized by Karakedi with the Uninvited Jazz Band and the Cherkezi orchestra… I was completely blown away. The party invitation said : starts at 9 PM ends at 6 AM and it was true… and I was there for the whole thing.

I also had a new friend with me, a friend of a Vancouver friend, Sean who lives in Ankara but travels regularly to Afghanistan. He had a 12 hour stop-over in Istanbul and we met at 5 PM, had dinner then headed to The Mekan where the party was taking place and he left at 2 AM or so. It was really nice to meet him.

And it was so good to see all the Karakedi faces anew… I missed everyone since Karakedi closed. The music was out of this world. The UJB opened the night, I have seen them many times, but it’s always amazing to see how much difference it makes to have a nice stage, good sound and lights for any band.




The Cherkezi orchestra is from Macedonia, I had welcomed them the night before as I was working at Chillout. What I saw, I never saw anything like it before… Tubas… 3 tubas, drums and 1 trumpet… well, it was mind blowing. They looked Mexican to me, the music at times was sounding Mexican… but really… after a long set, they came off the stage and headed into the terrace and played there, without amplification, and with extra friends from the audience; another trumpet, another tuba, a djembe. What happened was what music can do, join everyone in a massive wave of energy… it is undescribable, and my camera ran out of memory at that point so I have no visual but my memories…





at around 6:30 I headed home, I met the guys of the band on the way back, I walked with them to Chillout, then chatted with Feza, the night shifter, then headed home around 7:30 AM. I could now hear my footsteps… in the quietness of the morning. It had been a very long time since I had experienced that. Early week end morning quiet, everything was so beautiful. Another moment of magic that is a bit hard to describe, it is too simple… too ordinary in a way.

So my month working at Chillout is over, I’m a bit out of sorts because I’m back to not being part of anything. Just me in the big wide world. We’ve been treated to gentle weather, it’s warm. I hear the end comes in two days… rain will come, winter will come…

Today I realized my cell phone has disappeared, not my Turkish phone which is an ancient Blackberry with a scroll wheel, but my Nokia, the gift I had received from Kemal. I remember putting it by the side of my bed after I clean up yesterday. I went out without locking my door because I trust and when I came back the door was wide open, it gave me a bad feeling… then, later when I went to use it (I had no SIM card in it but I used it as a recording device, GPS, dictionary, alarm clock, timer, phone book… well it was nowhere to be found.

It upset me. My beautiful phone. I have very few things; my two instruments, the laptop, the small amplifier and two pedals, a few rags to wear and a few music gizmos.. that’s it. That’s the sum of all my possessions, everything has a function, meaning, history… each thing is special. This phone was special to me… and now it’s gone… I’m not so upset now, a bit sad, yes… it’s just a phone… OK, let it go… like everything in this life, it gets taken away from you one way or another. I have a piece of music gear with me that belong to my friend Zal and I am VERY glad they didn’t take that, as it would have cost a fortune to replace… and fortunes I don’t have at this moment.

Yesterday I met with another friend of a friend, her name is Bahriye, I had met Christina back in June or early July at Chillout, she is a Canadian who was doing a masters on Kurdish music. Months ago we had communicated on FB but it fell apart. Yesterday we met, Bahriye is Kurdish, she wants to learn English. So we got together over tea and I tried to help her. It was fun. It was refreshing to meet someone “real” … how to explain? Someone who is living their life here, normal, not a tourist or an entertainer… or maybe it’s just who she was, but it was really special. She wants to get together on the week ends and learn English. She says she dreams of going to Canada. I am glad to help her.

My week ends are getting filled… guitar teaching, now English tutoring, I will also meet with Samira, a girl I had met at the Turkish class who is a singer, we will look at music to play together. I also want to play at Chillout…

I started to work on my book again. I found information about self editing that makes total sense and decided to give it a go. Last year when I stopped I felt I couldn’t add anymore to it. Now re-reading I find much to fix, improve, edit out. That makes things quite strange. I plunge into the motorcycle journey, into America, into another me… Then I look up and I am in Istanbul… I decided I will finish it. The self publishing tip is to do 4 drafts (I am on the fifth) and then read it out loud. Makes sense to me, that is what I always did with my translations. If you can read it out loud, then it will be understood. I think I will publish online, available to those who want it. Finishing these things is always good, it frees the creative sensors sending them into new directions.

I also started to study a new bağlama method written by Arif Sağ and Erdal Erzincan, both musical legends here. It is a great method, I think I will get a lot out of it. At exercise 13 I can already see that I am heading into another musical world. They developed new ways of writing the music so you can actually see how to interpret the music properly. Most of the songs you find written have a very minimal amount of information written. The Turkish music has all sorts of embellishments, fingerings, and picking that make all the difference in the way the music is played. A bit like a jazz song is written without the “swing” and if you just read the music as it’s written it will sound really square… So I am on a slow road, but it’s very gratifying. I have heard and seen enough baglama players to see that this book will take me on the right path.

A friend introduce me to a new motorcycle brand : Keeway. Seems it is more reliable than the Chinese ones. I’m still day dreaming of traveling through the country on motorbike this spring.. and if I can make some money in the mean time. Looks like I could find a 250 model for around 2000 lira, which is roughly a grand. That or a Honda CB 150. That is if I can solve my vertigo issues… those have me slightly worried… Worried that I won’t be able to ride again… scary thought… I read in many places that the vertigo is easily solvable with the Epley maneuver. Cross your fingers for me…

So life, life goes on.

I am, as usual, questioning everything… I had a look at my finances and it’s slowly but surely dwindling… I live very economically but still, more goes out than comes in… I have been teaching guitar but have been charging very little or nothing at all… I have been taught for free and feel I have to give back… the gigs on Sundays were paying my weekly food but that has been gone for a month…

I don’t know if I should travel… leave Istanbul and go to? India? Iran? Europe? Or stay here? I can’t seem to find the balance… all or nothing… sometimes I imagine being highly mobile, go play in different places, travel with music, explore… but the actuality of it means I have to be a better business person and make things pay for themselves and that thought is wearisome… I don’t know that I really want to be working on a “career” and all that implies. I like the anonymity. Or maybe I just haven’t imagined the right format. The other thought that keeps tickling at me is that in the back of my awareness it seems, I should go somewhere, a smaller place.. but I don’t know where… When I consider leaving Turkey it feels absolutely like the wrong thing to do at the moment.

I was offered a volunteer position at Chillout, help them with social media and in house events, in exchange for a free bed. I am thinking about it. I paid my rent in my room for November so I have a bit of time to decide. Financially it would really help, socially it’s always a great place to be as you meet so many great people… I will likely miss my room once in a while.. the privacy of your own space can be priceless…

I guess I am at that point where I have to ask myself what it is I really want… And maybe I can’t know what I would want now because there are many things I have not experienced yet…

So it is a competition between status quo, doing what you know and jumping into a new reality… I think and think… dunno yet…

In the mean time, Istanbul the beautiful with its dogs, cats, people, horns, simits, endless nights is still a beautiful mistress to worship.







One Response to “November”

  1. connie pryor Says:

    It is so so good to hear from you again. Sorry to hear your sick. Take care of yourself & safe travels. Miss your muuussssiiiiccccc!!!!!!:):)

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