Prior to the Soviet Union, Odessa was a kind of  New Orleans on the Black Sea. It was a duty-free haven with a thriving black market and teeming port-side taverns where you could hear a variety of musical styles: Greek, Roma, Armenian, Georgian. It was famous for its distinctive Odessa mélange. In addition to Jewish bankers, Jewish workers and Jewish gangsters ...

ICH UND MEIN STAUBSAUGER Well, it was 1987 okay…I was sixteen in West Berlin, out walking the Potse. The Potse – Potsdamer Straße – was one of West-Berlin's most famous main drags. Or shall we say infamous. The street, which in Wall days ran from the weedy wastes of Potsdamer Platz, down to Kleistpark, had lost all of its pre-war glamour ...

A Bohemian Wedding “Ah, to be in Prague again!” said Adam. “The appalling sights, sounds and smells. The people uncouth, the food greasy and inedible, the metro crowded and rattling, the language incomprehensible. How I managed to stick it out here for so long, I just don’t know.” Adam Hershman was an old classmate chum from Cali who had come ...

Although he was born in Copenhagen, both Bjonko Stosic’s parents hail from Macedonia, and it is there that his sound is inextricably rooted. The title of the album is Enigma and suggests something mysterious, ghostly even. Indeed some of the lower register tracks summon up yearning, wraith-like Oriental soundscapes of a particular Macedonian cast. However, the best ones are strutting, groovy dance ...

One of my favorite musicians is the Bulgarian/Turkish accordionist called ‘Ciguli.’ Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014. After he died, the Istanbul based Roll Magazin re-published an extensive interview with him. Getting to understand Ciguli’s life and point of view only made me appreciate him more. He talks about his love of Bollywood, the situation of the  turkish ethnic minority ...

The deeper I got into the Balkans the more I began to feel the magnetic pull of Istanbul. As of Novi Pazar, everything started to tilt towards the Bosphorus. The food, the music, the language, the mannerisms, all began to assume a Turkish touch. I realized that if ever I were to unwind the knotty issue of the Balkans in my ...

The guy that worked the hotel reception desk looked at me, as if to make sure he had heard correctly. “Tallava? You want tallava?” he said, like I wanted a dose of the clap. “Are you sure you really want to hear this shit? I know of a place on the edge of town. But I’m warning you, it’s a bit ...

Derya Yıldırım doesn’t  like to be pigeonholed. “I do what comes out of me. And if that is for some ‘psychedelic rock’ then so be it,” she says. Oft compared to Turkish neo-psyche rockers Altın Gün, Yıldırım was at the right place at the right time when the Anatolian psyche revival hit. Here we have Derya Yıldırım and Grup Şimşek’s second ...

The shriek of the clarinet cuts the air and suddenly all the young bucks hit the floor, linking pinkies and dancing halay (Turkish circle dance). As the wedding band runs the gamut of popular wedding songs, the bride and the groom take center stage. Now and then a guest comes up and showers the bride with dollar bills, while the kids run ...

Erol Ünal, a young German Turk from Esslingen, near Stuttgart, has come out with a scathing anti-Muslim exposé entitled, Der Abtrünnige – 15 Jahre in Moscheegemeinden. Meine Einblicke in eine Welt von Fundamenalisten und Rechtsextreme, über Radikale bis zu Sufis.  First off, let me say although I disagree with Ünal right from the get-go; taking issue with his tenets, precepts and conclusions, ...

Now, with corona, more than ever, musicians don’t have to leave the privacy of their homes to cut an album. They hook up over Facebook or Fiverr and trade samples over Reason, while tracks are recorded in the comfort of one’s own four walls. The result: no really compelling backstory and essentially boring copy. The story behind the genesis of ...

The first I had heard of Taner Akyol was in connection with Derya Yıldırım, the young saz player and vocalist fronting Grup Şimşek, an international band, which have made some waves both here in Berlin and abroad for their groove-laden arrangements of Turkish songs from the seventies.  Derya Yıldırım is a fine example of the neo-Anatolian sound whose other main ...

We were about to set off by car from Berlin across Germany with Isa Martin, a German convert and whirling dervish at the wheel and  Hamza Altinok, a Sufi teacher and mystic, whose father had founded the first mosque in Berlin in the fifties, riding shot-gun. Both Hamza and Isa were frequent guests at the Ottoman Sufi Center, a Sufi dergah, or ...

About homosexuality and Islam Mehmet doesn’t mince words. “It’s impossible, in and of itself. It’s a contradiction in terms,” says the twenty-five-year- old Turkish mobile-phone salesman from Wilmersdorf. “It’s rejected by our religion flat out. But here in Germany you are confronted with it on a daily basis. Unfortunately, you can’t sound off about it. Someone’s going to take it the ...