Friday 28 December 2007

Christmas 2007 in Essaouira

Hello to all the new friends I met in Marakech and Essaouira. Just a few words now to say that we all got safely home today and that we had a really great time.

Here's a photo of me taken at the Jimi Handrix (sic) restaurant in Diabet on Christmas day. I spent a fun few weeks living in Diabet back in 1972 and often go back there to see how the place has changed since then.

In 2006, I think it was, we first saw the early works for the new golf course being built there. The work had progressed in June and the layout of the greens and fairways are now well advanced. Once they sow the grass its going to take a lot of water to keep the grass alive and growing. More on the subject of water in Essaouira later.

A new road is being put in to speed access to the golf course which will undoubtedly be brightly lit at night, bringing light polution to the southern horizon when seen from Essaouira. Today, this view is of a dark hillside running down to the sea. You know where Diabet is but you can't quite see it.

On Christmas Day, my wife, my daughter and I took a taxi to Diabet where we had a simple lunch - omelettes for my wife and myself, fish tagine for Lou. Then we walked back along the beach - a distance of about two miles. A lovely walk, seeing Essaouira getting ever bigger. The wind blowing as usual. I always bring my long, blue Tuareg scarf when I come to Morocco and it comes into its own in Essaouira

That night, we had been fortunate in being invited to a Lila given by Maalem Mahmoud Guinea, in his own house in Essaouira, just outside the medina. I was able to record the entire Lila and will post some of the music and some photos and a podcast given by a local expert in a separate posting.

We sat drinking coffee, most days, at Chez Ben Mustaffa, near Place Moulay Hassan, cafe casse (must learn how to type acute accents) for me, nous-nous for Maggie and Lou. Cafe Casse means broken coffee, or latte machiato (Italian and Starbuckspeak) - more coffee than milk. Nous is half in arabic, so nous-nous is half coffee and half milk. Add kebir if you want a large drink - nous-nous kebir, men fadlek.

I was sitting there one evening and thought I recognised the music that was playing. Then I realized that it was the Hassan Boussou concert that I had recorded in June. They were playing one of the CDs I'd given to Hicham the day before. It was wonderful hearing this long, soulful, 20 minute piece just 50 yards away from where the music had been performed six months earlier. Then, the music fom the CD vendors near to the cafe had totally drwoned out the music from the stage just beyond. This was the first time that people in this area had heard that music. I felt quite proud to have brought something back to Essaouira.

I took about 30 CDs with me and I gave them all away but could have given away many more. I'd build a 3 CD set of Chiek Tidiane Seck and Maalem Mahmoud Guinea, first playing individually and then together. This set really shows the value of fusion between musical styles. I also took some three volume sets of Best of Essaouira 2007 plus a bunch of Best of DaftNotStupid Volume 1. All have nice printed labels in the blog colours.

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Problems with the mp3 players

Since all of my recordings are posted with relatively high quality - 96Kbps or more - you might sometimes experience problems when you play them if you don't have a reasonably high-speed internet connection. There's a simple way around this - it just requires a little patience. Just pause the player for 30 seconds or so to allow more of the mp3/wav file to download - note that this still happens even when you've paused the player. Then press play again and it should now be OK. Give it a try and let me know if this helps.

Villa des Orangers musicians

I know it's not gnaoua but it is beautiful. These two guys play every night in the courtyard at the Villa des Orangers in Marrakech - our favourite hotel - an oasis of peace in this noisy and bustling city. While much has changed in Marrakech since I first was there over thirty years ago, it's magic never ceases to surprise me.

Monday 10 December 2007

Asian Dub Foundation rehearsal at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

Asian Dub Foundation rehearsal recorded live by DaftNotStupid at Essaouira the afternoon of their gig. I missed the gig itself, since I'd gone over to the Place Moulay Hassan for the Maalem Abdeslam Alikane concert. Maggie stayed behind though and said that ADF were really great, though she didn't like the overtly political nature of their lyrics. I still think I got the best of the deal, though.

Fnaire at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة - Matkich Bladi

Recorded live by DaftNotStupid at Essaouira 2007. Matkich Bladi means 'hands off my land'.

John and Maggie - Podcast at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

John and Maggie chat after the Maalem Mahmoud Guinea and Chiek Tidiane Seck sets at Essaouira 2007.

Podcast after the Tagada set at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

John rambles on after the Tagada set at Essaouira 2007

Groupe berbere El Baz at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة - T3a

Recorded live by DaftNotStupid at Essaouira 2007

Lénine at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

Recorded live by DaftNotStupid at Essaouira 2007

Monday 12 November 2007

My Web Card

Click to enter DaftNotStupid's blog to listen to Gnaoua, world and other great music

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Moon Calendar 2008

If you liked Moon Calendar 2007, you're going to love this - Moon Calendar 2008. If you're stuck for ideas for c.......s presents, you need look no further.

As before, it's available from Go-art in Amsterdam.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

My new playlist

My new playlist built using JW's Mediaplayer. I host my own swf files and playlist on Fileden. Next I'll look at linking in an RSS feed given very dynamic playlists.

Saturday 13 October 2007

Lolou at The Tower, Winchester

Lolou, a seven-piece band from Senegal played a wonderful set at the Tower Arts Centre, Winchester last night (as I write this, just after midnight). Lolou features a really great djembe player - Mamadou Sarr . That's a name to listen out for in the future.

Here's a playlist for the entire concert. Ten numbers and an incredible 1 hour 49 minutes (yes, 109 minutes) of great music. What a performance!

Mamadou, Kevin: If you read this - Great Set! I hope you like the recordings. The .wav files sound much better than these .mp3s, so get in touch if you'd like me to burn you a CD. (PS - Glad to hear that you liked the CDs).

I recorded the whole set as native .wav at 44.1 so they should sound pretty good. On the player above they are compressed at 96kbps (medium quality) to avoid drop-out when playing at busy times or on slow links.

For those of you with fast links, try this verison:

LOLOU: General Info
MySpace URL:

Band Members
Badou Ndiaye: Drums
Birame Seck : Lead Vocal
Mamadou Toure :Lead Vocal
Elhadji Seye : Bass
Jules Sow: Lead guitar
Kevin "Senegal": Keyboards
Mamadou Sarr : percussion [Djembe,Congas ]

UK Bookings through CTM.

Thursday 11 October 2007

Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival 2007 playlist

Here, all in one place, is the music I recorded in June at Essaouira.

BigBagStudios - Zig Zag - The series

For more from the guys over at BigBagStudios, visit their YouTube channel. You'll probably want to subscribe since they are pretty prolific.

Tuesday 9 October 2007

The Cloud Appreciation Society

I took this book called The Cloudspotter's Guide away with me on holiday to Italy last month and read it in a few days while sitting on the beach under a largely cloudless sky. Question to self - Is that Irony? Anyway, its a great read and better (in my opinion) than another book on clouds that I read a couple of years ago.

The Cloudspotter's Guide is written by a guy called Gavin Pretor-Pinney, who, believe it or not, is also the founder of the The Cloud Appreciation Society. If you like clouds, want to look at great photos or learn how they work, that's the place to go.

Here's a cloud that I photgraphed from my window a week or so back. Stratocumulus, I think.

Branching out into video

As you probably know if you've listened to any of the music I recorded this year, it's all audio-only. While the sound quality is usually pretty good - except for some unavoidable wind noise in Essaouira - the full-length videos that I post on YouTube never seem to get the number of plays that even short clips of the same piece get when accompanied by a video track. Maybe that's something to do with the media; people expect video on YouTube and are put-off if they don't get it.

Its not only that, though. The Essaouira festival is not just about music its also about dance and that over-worked word performance. I've been there five times not just because the music is great (which, of course, it is) but because the performance drags me back. And when I get home, I not only want to listen to the music again - which my recordings have allowed me to do - but I also want see again what I saw then. Yes, I know its not the same as being there - but it certainly helps.

That's why, I'm now seriously planning to move to video, and not only regular video but HD. That's High Definition to the uninitiated - i.e people like me, until a week ago.

Where to start is the problem. Audio quality and the ability to plug in external microphones is obviously a real necessity. So is low light sensitivity - especially for night-time concerts, Lilas and general street-shooting. Size and weight are also important - I don't really want to hold a 5lb camcorder for hours on end. And anyway - how can I film and dance at the same time? Do I need two cameras - a bigger, more functional one for me and and smaller, lighter one for Maggie? Do I really need HD or should I wait till that settles down a bit? Am I destined for the movie business or should I limit myself to audio? Do I really need interchangeable lenses? How important is SMPTE at this entry level? When will YouTube move to HD? Ever or never? Is size important?

As you can see, this post is all about questions, not answers. I'm doing my research and will make a decision soon. Maybe buy something for Maggie and see how I get one.

More later on this, but if any passing reader can answer any of these questions, please do.

Next year - VideoTime!

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Cinema and Movies.: Gnawa music in Essaouira,the soul music town in Morocco

There're some good photographs of the concert space at Bab Marrakeck during its initial set-up over on this blog posting Cinema and Movies.: Gnawa music in Essaouira,the soul music town in Morocco

Monday 24 September 2007

Saturday 22 September 2007

My Van Morrison playlist

January 12th 2008 News Update
Van Morrison videos purged from Youtube. Youtube has not only removed all of my recordings of Van Morrison from the 2007 Glastonbury Extravaganza but has also removed many videos posted by other Van the Man fans and has even suspended a couple of accounts of active Van fans.

I first started to listen to Van Morrison in 1971, and though I had heard him sing in Them a few years earlier, I did not at the time know he had been their singer. Astral Weeks was my introduction to him as a singer and poet and it is still my favourite album of his. I lived in Leeds at the time and big Dave upstairs had this LP and used to play it for me. I recorded it on an old Aika reel-to-reel recorded I used to have and I played it for years after that.

I lost touch with Van - and much music - for a few years and it was only after I moved up to Sunderland some years later that I caught up with him again, This time the record was Veedon Fleece - my mate Fred introduced me to it. I wondered what happened to Fred?

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher is I think my second favourite, and then probably Moondance. You'll find songs from all of these and more on my playlist below.

Saturday 25 August 2007

Moon Calendar 2007

I saw this Moon Calendar in an Amsterdam shop recently and thought you all may like it.

Moon Calendar 2007

Click on the calendar or here to buy a full-size print from Go-art in Amsterdam.

The calendar shows the phase of the moon for every night of the year-and the day of the week for every day. You can use it anywhere in the world: a full moon is still a full moon wherever you are on the Earth. If you want to know the exact time of full moon, remember to make an allowance for the time zone you are in-all the times on this calendar are GMT. So in Britain in summertime, for instance, add one hour to the printed time to get the clock time of an event.

On my last trip to Essaouira I started speaking a little Arabic using a Teach Yourself CD that I had previously downloaded to my iPod. I managed to learn a few words and conntructions, mainly around greetings and simple requests, but I found that even being able to say a few words in Arabic was a great help and the Moroccan people really appreciated the effort. The Arabic dialect used on the CD was that used in Egypt and the Gulf states, so, I was not always understood. It came therefore as a great find when I discovered which has a web-site decicated to speaking the Moroccan dialect or Darija as they call it. has rich vocabulary section with an easily understandable transliteration system and they also show the Arabic spelling too. It has many situational lessons which are oriented around learning by reading since there are no sound clips. These would, I think, be a great addition to the site and I'll try to find out if they have plans to change that.

If you plan to visit Morocco - maybe for next year's Essaouira festival - pay a visit to and try to pick up a few words of Darija - it'll be well worth it.


For music, just music, great music, no chat, no adverts, just music - listen to RADIOGAS.

Click for RADIOGAS on media player

Click for RADIOGAS on iTunes (you'll need to Open or Save and then Open the file
Or, visit

Thursday 23 August 2007

Jbara at Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival 2000

Mohamed Jbara has been compared to Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix. I'll leave that to you, but take a listen to a truly great Moroccan guitarist. Jbara is one of the pioneers of Moroccan Rock Fusion as this first song here from the Essaouira World Music festival 2000 shows. Listen and enjoy.

Click for more of the same at Jbara's YouTube channel.

Saturday 18 August 2007

Corinne Bailey Rae at the Glastonbury Extravaganza 2007

Instead of converting the music I've recorded to video format and posting it to YouTube, here I've just converted it to mp3 format and hosted it on FileDen. I think that the player is more consumable, even though the visibility may not be as goo as on YouTube. I tried adding the player to my channel over there but that didn't work.

Friday 17 August 2007

Van Morrison set at the Glastonbury Extravanganza 2007

January 12th 2008 News Update
Van Morrison videos purged from Youtube. Youtube has not only removed all of my recordings of Van Morrison at the 2007 Glastonbury Extravaganza - hence this post is now entirely devoid of music - but has also removed many videos posted by other Van the Man fans and has even suspended a couple of accounts of active Van fans.

OK, I'm back now, so I'll update this new blog entry as I post each Van Morrison number from the Glastonbury Extravanganza 2007 to my YouTube channel

For a full and detailed review of the Van Morrison set, please see Patrick Maginty's excelent review which has been reposted on the Van Morrison News blog . I'd also like to thank Patrick for putting names to some of the tracks that I couldn't identify.

St James Infirmary

Stop drinking Lyrics

Beauty of the days gone by

Precious time

Tupelo honey

Why must I always explain

Brown eyed girl


Some of the photo's that I've incorporated into the videos are by Stewie, other from various web sites.

Saturday 11 August 2007

Van Morrison and Corinne Bailey Rae at the Glastonbury Extravanganza 2007

January 12th 2008 News Update
Van Morrison videos purged from Youtube

Just in - new live music by Van Morrison and Corinne Bailey Rae recorded at the Glastonbury Extravanganza 2007 - YESTERDAY - 10th August 2007.

I'll be posting more from the wonderful concert held in the old abbey grounds sometime next week, but, for now, hear's a taster of what's to follow.

Let's kick off with Bailey Rae singing her masterpiece Just like an angel.

The see and hear more from the girl with this divine voice, visit her site on MySpace.

From the sublime to the not ridiculous but just wonderful. Van the Man with his old favourite G_L_O_R_I_A . Sorry about the loss of control at the end of the piece. Quite out of character, I can assure you.

Saturday 4 August 2007

Not Bono but Akram

I'd like to apologise for a big mistake in the credits when I originally posted clips of Band of Gnawa. I had mistakenly shown them featuring Bono, due to a misunderstanding when Akram Sedkaoui was introduced (in French) as "the man with the Golden Voice, according to Bono from U2". I was at a distance from the stage and my eyesight isn't as good as it was, an I just heard the word "Bono" and jumped to the wrong conclusion. Sorry for the mistake. In this case its more of StupidNotDaft - maybe I should rename the channel.

Anyway, here's a clip that sort of explains my state of mind at the time:

Links to blogs

Thursday 2 August 2007

Dedication and thanks

One thing that you can't help noticing about Morocco is the friendliness of its people and their joy of life. So, it was with much sadness, on my last visit there, that I learned of the death, in the past year, of Mostafa Ben Manna. Mostafa, who died at a tragically early age, will be sorely missed by his family and his many friends around the world, and I'd like to dedicate this blog to him. His memory and name live on, however, as does his cafe - Chez Ben Mostafa - now run by his nephew, Hicham, who carries on the tradition of welcoming all who pass his way.

Thanks also to Kamal and Mamadou who love the music of Essaouira almost as much as I do, but who have the pleasure of living there all year round, not just a week or so at a time.

Labass, guys. See you soon, insha'Allah, maybe in December.

Finally, I'd like to thank His Majesty, King Mohmmed VI, the patron of the Essaouira festival. Each year, he shares this wonderful music with his people and so, via this blog and my YouTube channel, I share that gift with you, the wider internet audience.

John (aka DaftNotStupid)

Sunday 29 July 2007

Techno at Essaouira!!!

I've just heard some great techno that was recorded at Essaouira this year. Take a listen at

Hoba Hoba Spirit Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

Live audio-only recording at Essaouira World Music Festival 2007 of Hoba Hoba Spirit

Location and timing
: Bab Marrakech Friday 22nd June 20:00

Bienvenue a Casa (7:03)

If you want to see how much Hoba Hoba Spirit were able to pump up the audience, take a look a this clip, and, if you look very carefully, you might just see Maggie and I in the background:

More about the band at

Gangbe Brass Band at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

Listen to this the rich sound from this wonderful brass band from Benin - the Gangbe Brass Band.

Location and timing: Bab Marrakech Saturday 23rd June 20:00

Track 1 (5:22):

Track 2 (3:46):

Find out more about the Gangbe Brass Band, their available CDs and planned 2007 appearances at . If you get a chance to hear them, its worth going out of your way. They played for over an hours and gave 100% the whole time. Hurrah!

While looking around, I found this link to an mp3 on the Genting Jazz Festival web site of the band playing.

Baaba Maal at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

Live recording at Essaouira World Music Festival 2007 of Baaba Maal playing at the Place Moulay Hassan .

Location and timing: Place Moulay Hassan Thursday 21st June 21:00

Track 1 - Mbolo (9:38)

This set immediately preceded the Band of Gnawa set, and, like that, was recorded from the Restaurant Bab Lachour. If you've ever ben to Essaouira, you'll know that it gets pretty windy there, so, you won't be surprised that the music fades a little.

Tidiane Seck at Essaouira World Music Festival 2007

Live audio-only recording at Essaouira World Music Festival 2007 of Cheik Tidiane Seck (Keyboards Mali) with Will Calhoun(USA Drums).

Location and timing: Bab Marrakech Friday 22nd June 22:00

Tagada set at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

Live recording (audio only) of Tagada at Essaouira 2007

Location and timing: Bab Marrakech Saturday 23rd June 20:00

Track 1 (9:42):


Listen to old DaftNotStupid himself ramble on after the Tagada set.

Maalem Mahmoud Guinea with Cheick Tidiane Seck set

Live audio-only recording at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة World Music Festival of Cheik Tidiane Seck (Keyboards Mali) featuring Will Calhoun (USA Drums) along with Maalem Mahmoud Guinea (Guimbri and vocals Essaouira)

Location and timing: Bab Marrakech Friday 22nd June 00:00 midnight


John and Maggie chat about the Maalem Mahmoud Guinea with Cheick Tidiane Seck set that's just finished.

Essaouira 2007 poster

Saturday 28 July 2007

Maalem Mustapha Bakbou at Essaouira World Music Festival 2007 الصويرة

Live recording at Essaouira World Music Festival 2007 of Maalem Mustapha Bakbou with Moktar Samba ( Drums Senegal), Louis Bertignac (Guitar France), Jean-Philippe Rykiel (Piano France).

Location and timing: Bab Marrakech Saturday23rd June 22:00

Track 1 (9:58)

Track 2 (9:52):

Track 3 (9:53):

Track 4 (9:11):

Believe it or not, I left this session at Bab Marrakech (Saturday night 23rd June) before it ended, to see Maalem Abdeslam Alikane with Tyour Gnaoua and Ray Lema over at Moulay Hassan. See my blog entry for more about that. However, I have four pieces from this set, all about 10 minutes long and featuring Louis Bertignac's haunting guitar.

Band of Gnawa with Louis Bertignac at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

Another posting about the 10th Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival in June 2007.

One of the other Musical Creations this year was put together by Loy Erlich who has been one of the Essaouira Artistic Directors since 2000. Loy Elich (keyboards bass France) joined the Band of Gnawa with Louis Bertignac (guitar France), Jean-Philippe Rykiel (guitar France), Akram Sedkaoui (vocals Tunisia), Cyril Atef (drums percussion) and Maalem Said Boulhimas (gimbri Morroco) along with four other Gnaoua musicians (choers percussion).


The band started with Maalem Said Boulhimas and his Gnaoua musicians - I've just found about 20 minutes of him leading the whole group which I'd forgotten that I'd recorded - I'll post this to YouTube as soon as I can and then embed it here. The band then switches to more of a rock session, with the old Beatles number Come Together moving on through Hendrix's Who Knows to end on Gallow's Pole, they enchanted the crowd with rich rock fused with Gnaoua. Maggie and I agree that this was the session of the festival. Thanks guys!

Location and timing: Place Moulay Hassan Thursday 21st June 23:00


This is the first of the two Maalem Said Boulhimas pieces (6:57):

.., and this is the second (9:44)

Here's Part 1 (9:22) of Come Together:

And here's part 2 (5:13, not 9:57 as shown. Sorry about the dead space at the end):


Since I mentioned it, and Hendrix was probably my favourite musician when I first went to Essaouira in 1972, here's "Who Knows" (9:57):


The old Led Zeppelin number Immigrant Song. Listen for the break to Gnaoua around the 3 minute mark.


Finally, here's Gallow's Pole (5:59):

I recorded this set from the balcony of the Restaurant Bab Lachour, clamping the mike to the balustrade. It's a great place to see the concerts in Place Moulay Hassan and one of the few places in the medina to serve alchohol. You need to buy a ticket on the nights of the festival but that includes food which is always good there - the lamb chops and little baby soles are especially good.

Thanks to e - C h i l l . . aka.. SuperUnknown.. for the great photographs.

Monday 16 July 2007

Maalem Abdeslam Alikane and Ray Lema at Essaouira 2007 الصويرة

This is my first posting about the recent Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival.

Maalem Abdeslam Alikane (Guembri Morocco) played with Tyour Gnaoua and Ray Lema (Guitar, Keyboards Congo), Adellah El Miry (Violin Morocco), Soriba Kouyate (Kora Senegal) and Mokthar Samba (Drums Morocco-Senegal), Camilo Nu (Guitar Mexico) at the Essaouira 2007 Gnaoua and World Music Festival in June 2007. Part of the through track 9, they were joined by Jean-Philippe Rykiel (Keyboards France who had been playing in the Mustapha Bakbou concert over at Bab Marrakech - listen out for his distictive guitar of the mp3 player of this concert in the right hand side-bar of this blog.

Thanks to Camilo Nu for advising me (via my YouTube channel) of the corrected line-up for the concert. I had previously being showing Cyril Atef on drums and Jean-Philippe on guitar and hadn't acknowledged Camilo at all. Sorry for the mistake - I'd been using the line-up shown in the festival guide, and, I guess that they are subject to last-minute changes.

Location and Timing: Place Moulay Hassan Saturday 23rd June 23:00

This is Part 1 (3:24) of the 8th number that they played:

and this is part 2 (8:13) of the same number:

In answer to nirvomind I recorded this piece ( at around 23:00 on Saturday night (23rd June) at the Moulay Hassan. Maalem Adbelkebir Merchance played at 20:30 on the Friday night in the Moulay Hassan at which time I was recording Hoba Hoba Spirit at Bab Marrakech.

It may interest Blogger readers and listeners on my YouTube channel ( to know that Maalem Abdeslam Alikane is one of the founders of the Essaouira festival and that this session was one of three Musical Creations sponsored by the festival this year. Alikane chose this occasion to reunite musicians he has played with before and who have a strong affinity for Gnaoua music. I believe that this session was one of the high points of the festival, though my wife still thinks I'm stupid for missing out at the Asian Dub Foundation who played at Bab Marrakech at the same time. "Daft not stupid" I said. Anyway, I did record a short rehearsal of theirs which is also available on my channel.

Unusually, I made this recording in the audience, close to the stage. I like the richness of sound I get there and being deep within an Essaouira audience is a wonderful social as well as musical experience.

For the technically minded, I clamped the microphone to the scaffolding of the official TV platform, so I was not only optimally placed but was able to dance without holding the microphone for 2 hours.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I'll be posting more great music from the Essaouira 2007 festival, so why not subscribe so you'll hear straight away.