Yeah, we know, We've been slack about keeping this page up. But we've been SO BUSY with the new CD! It's finally finished, and this is a good place to tell you some of the details about it's production...
The sound bite you hear on the home page of this site is "Ozlem", which is also the title of the new CD. Ozlem means "longing" in Turkish. Ted wrote it and Farzad ran with it. Carla did the graphics for the cover. That is her dancing in front of the Hittite Sun banner that Turku often uses as a back drop in it's concerts. The photo was taken by Keith Merrifield. We met Keith through Ted and Carla's hockey playing. Keith's wife Sam plays on Carla's team, and Keith started taking goalie lessons from Ted. Keith was doing such a great job photographing the action in our hockey games that we asked him to shoot a Turku concert. The man is a genius. Carla also used many of the photos on her zil instruction cd rom which she just finished. You can find his site at martialimage.com. The live version on Aman Avci at the end of "Ozlem" was taped at the same concert Keith photographed.
Ted and Carla have just come back from Istanbul, where they went to guide Scott and Kay of Touch the Earth import shop. They wanted to add more musical instruments to their inventory, and we knew just where to find them. We visited a saz workshop on the Asian side. Here are some unfinished sazes hung to cure...
They also make these sweet little davuls that sound like the big ones. There's more about the trip on the Istanbul page. There are so many folk instruments to be found in the shops in Istanbul. Scott even managed to pick up a Tulum. (Turkish Bagpipe) Wonder if he'll be able to play us a tune by Pennsic? A rookie tulum player sounds like a badly constipated duck. Scott brought beads and baseball caps to trade with the merchants there. I was thinking "huh?" but, on our very first day there, just doing a little window shopping, a merchant came out of his store and offered him amber jewelry for the cap he was wearing!
As we sat down to practice the songs for the new album last night, Farzad gave us a little insight into his musical upbringing. He says his teacher told him that taksim (improvisation) probably came out of tuning. Certainly, as Farzad tunes, he always runs through a little taksim to test his tuning. (Listen to any orchestra as they tune and warm up, and you will hear scales, arpeggios, and general messing about based on those scales.) Farzad also told us a story about coming up with a tune as he listened to the neighboorhood ladies chatting with his mother on the front porch when he was young. The way they spoke and the things they spoke of turned into musical phrases in the song. I guess that people like Farzad who eat, breathe, drink, and dream music 24/7 end up hearing music in everything.
Turku took on it's present form when we brought a saz player named Latif Bolat to our area. He mostly plays Sufi Illahis. We still play some of these from time to time. Up until that point, we were a large group that included anyone who cared to jam and called ourselves "Çadir". We did our first gig at the Sterling Garden Center (really, a restaurant.) Then, we played gigs at the University of SC, Georgia Tech, and UNC Chapel Hill with Latif. It was a kick in the pants for us. We asked ourselves if we wanted to be a real band, or just jam in the living room. Ted, Carla, Farzad, and Shahriar were ready to roll, and the rest went away. Soon after, we aquired Daveed, which really topped it off.
We're back from Pennsic and all inspired! Pennsic always recharges us and gets us ready for more mischief. After the one thousanth inquiry, Ted decided to ressurect the Janissary band. The Mehter are the original marching band, after which all others are patterned. Anyone interested in getting involved at Pennsic XXXIII should click here. Also, Ted and Carla will be making a buying trip to Istanbul with Scott and Kay, who own Touch the Earth. Look for photos of that trip at the end of November or so. (Note...find those photos here.)Touch the Earth is a great source of imports of all sorts, and all your Mehter needs! The concert was a blast, the dancers were all great. At the last minute, we added a group of very young dancers that had written a choreography to one of our songs. Unfortunately, the photos didn't work out well in the light, but you can find a couple on the "backstage photos" page. If you'd like to know what's up for next Pennsic, (or, if you have no idea what Pennsic is...) check out our Pennsic page, which will be updated occasionally.
Well, it being summer, Turku is on vacation till it's Pennsic concert when we all converge for one great party before it's back to work and the studio. Till then, we are truly nomads. Daveed is on the road with his Drumfest! at festivals and workshops around the country. That man has probably taught more people how to drum than anyone on the planet! Denys is doing much the same; and Ted is teaching at a goalie school in Ontario. Farzad is working on another solo album. (Yay!) If you haven't checked out the first (Sandstorm), you should. I, your humble web-mistress Carla, am popping off a quick note to you before I head north myself. I promise photos from Pennsic at the end of August!
People often ask us where we got our instruments.
We do have a few. We got our first davul (the big drum that Carla plays) in Istanbul at a shop called Istanbul Musik Merkesi on Galipdede Caddesi, just below Tunel. It's our favorite music store in Istanbul. We've gotten a much nicer one recently from a wonderful merchant in the U.S. called "Touch the Earth." We told him we were looking for a new one, and he ordered several when we gave him our sources. He also carries other instruments, rugs, and other hard-to-find imported items. We've made 3 trips to Istanbul now, and the merchants there always ask, "why do you want this?" We tell them we play music. "American Music," they ask? "No, we tell them, Turkish Music." They are always very surprised. Ted has also had 2 sazes custom made by the best maker in Istanbul, maybe Turkey, Ismail Acar. Shahriar's tar came from Iran. We did see some for sale in Istanbul and America, but they were not as nice. We know of no makers of sazes or tars in America.
One strange and interesting trip for us was to a gig in Cumberland, Kentucky; a very small town in the mountains. It was our first experience with a tour bus...we were thrilled. Our driver was a fun character named Andrew, though he went by "Android". He wore a leather jacket and cowboy hat. When we stopped at a gas station in the hills, the staff thought he was the star. He told us the bus had a history...that it was the tour bus that Ozzy Osbourne's band was traveling in when Randy Rhodes (Ozzy's guitar player) decided to take a side trip in a small plane. He and the pilot and the band's hairdresser died when they buzzed the bus and clipped the roof. He showed us the repair in the roof. (check out this newspaper clip)There was no hotel in town except this wonderfull old schoolhouse that had been converted into the cutest hotel. There were still lockers in the hallways. Turku always ends up with the strangest lodgings!
New Year's Eve, 1999 was such a big deal all over the country. (Would all the computers crash in the morning?!?) Like most cities, Charleston SC had planned a huge bash. It's such a beautiful city, we were thrilled to be included in their plans. We invited the dancers of Zafira to join us for two shows at a King St theater. The street was blocked off for some distance, with all kinds of goings-on all day. We played and danced in the street during the day to drum up some interest in our evening show. (no pun intended) Well, we packed the house for both performances! And the crowds were great, they were SO ready to party! You would think that we'd be too exhausted to move after that; but as we got packed up to find our hotel, we saw that there were people everywhere running down the street. We had no idea why, but everyone was headed that way, so we all just started running, too. Shahriar's wife was pushing their darling toddler, Nora down the street in a baby carriage. Nora shouted to Carla, "run like the wind, Carla!" So, on we ran as the crowd turned toward the waterfront. We got there just in time for a huge fireworks display, including a rocket that made a giant pair of lips in the sky when it went off! (how did they do that?) It was just a wonderful, chaotic moment!
We've just returned from playing Rakkasah in San Fransisco. We had such a great time; everyone was so nice, especially Miranda and Diana, who let us crash in their beautiful Victorian home. Thursday night, we went to a great sushi bar with a little stream that coursed around the bar with little sushi boats floating in it. You just grab what you want! Friday night we went to a great party thrown by Ultra Gypsy in a warehouse. Saturday night, Miranda and Diana threw a bash at their place, where we used up what energy we had left. Farzad's son Animir had been counting the days til Rakkasah. Everytime we saw him, he told us how long it would be til the trip. We promised him he could come up and dance (he's a natural!) with everyone during the open stage at our sound check. Of course, when the time came, he got shy. But, by the end of the set, he was grooving with the best of them. As everyone left the stage, Ani lingered to throw kisses to his adoring public! Can't wait to go back so we can actually see San Fransisco!
Manning SC, the "underserved community," as the people who give out grants call such small towns. This was one of the stranger gigs we've done. Now, when we started out, we figured our audience would be made up exclusively of hippies and immigrants. We've been very pleasantly surprised to find that our audience is incredibly diverse; and that our music seems to appeal to everyone that hears it. As Ted put it, "we don't sound like a cat on a screen door;" which is how much Asian music sounds to Westerners. We certainly weren't sure how Manning would feel about us, this being one of our early gigs. Turns out, though, that this was one of the events of the season. The average age at this performance was about 55. Everyone was dressed semi-formal. Little tables were set around the perimeter of the seats with wine and other refreshments. Shahriar popped out of the dressing room just before the performance to get a drink. He was wearing his vest and cap. As he came to the table, a nice old lady requested him to pour her a white wine! Of course, being a good natured sort, Shahriar just smiled and obliged her. I'm sure she was mortified when the concert began and her "waiter" turned out to be one of the performers! Most likely, though, she forgot her embarassment as the concert got underway and our happy audience started dancing in the aisles.
The Great Blue Heron festival in 2001 was a new experience for us. I guess it's what you'd call a "Roots Rock" festival; 3 days in the beautiful New York countryside. There were Amish folk driving their wagons on the roads around the site, which was lovely. There's a stage, with one band after another; there's a huge tent with classes and dance parties, and vendors. Everyone camps around all this. The stage is on the side of a hill, which gives an amphitheater effect. There were folk sitting and dancing all over the hill. They came and went all day, listening awhile, then going on to some other activity. It was just a great scene. When Turku took the stage, we were just floored at the response we got! It seemed like everyone in attendance at the festival suddenly came to listen. They were solid to the top of the hill; thousands of people! Everyone just went nuts for us, so we went nuts for them. There were so many people dancing in front of the stage, that Carla almost went stage diving. That was the first concert we ever needed security around the stage and backstage area! When our time was up, the crowd was screaming for more.
We met so many interesting people in Uzbekistan. Most of them were unable to speak to us, but all were able to communicate. On our way to dinner in the hotel one day, we passed one of the musicians coming up the stairs. He stopped and said "America?" We confirmed that we were Americans, whereupon he sang us a little bit of a Louis Armstrong tune, impersonating his voice perfectly! Another evening, after our concert for the village of Jomboy, the bands that had played were ushered next door for a feast. As we went to our table, the Altai musicians that were representing Russia motioned us over, saying, "America, da!" And so we shared vodka and sang to each other through the meal. On another occasion, the band was invited to tour the University. We were greeted at the door by girls in traditional dress who gave us bundles of red carnations. They showed us a small museum that had artifacts of Afrasiob, the original name of Samarkand, which they say is the oldest city in the world. Later, we all sat in a conference room, where we were served refreshments. Our hosts, faculty of the university, sang us a couple of songs, the words of which we could not understand, but found very moving none the less. Then Farzad and Dav'id played a song. To our surprise, as the meeting had been a very dignified affair up til then, everyone got up and danced. Surely music is our greatest tool in bridging the gap between peoples of different cultures.
Click on the image to read about Turku's trip to Samarkand
Our first night in Samarkand, we met the Israeli band in the hotel lobby as we returned from separate gigs around town. We invited them to jam with us on the patio of the hotel. The nights in Samarkand were lovely and the patio had tables and chairs, and a large divan. This divan was a large wooden platform with cushions and a low table. We saw these everywhere; simple ones in fields for the farmers to relax on, to more ornate ones like the one at the hotel. As we jammed, more and more musicians came out to join us. Soon we had a huge jam going with people from all over, most of whom couldn't manage to communicate with each other. (Our translators had gone by that time.) Words were unneccesary, though, and we played til security came to quiet us down. Every evening thereafter, we gathered on the patio to play,drum, and sing with some of the most wonderful musicians on the planet. These evenings turned out to be the best part of the entire trip. The Azeri drummer was so enthusiastic that he actually burst the skin of his hand playing. Since we all played makam based music, we had no trouble making it all work.
Everyone's always asking us how we got together. Not surprising, since I myself (Carla, your humble web-mistress) told Ted when he first expressed the idea of starting a Turkish band in Columbia SC, "You can't start a Turkish band in Columbia SC." But, as Farzad says, "no sooner Ted than done." We found Farzad through my daughter's friend's father. They drummed together. Farzad came to practice with us. He was quite a good drummer, but once we finally heard him play violin, we knew we needed to find a new drummer. We actually already had a violin player, a girl from USC that was a good violinist, but with no experience in Turkish music. Once she heard Farzad play violin, she knew she had to find another band. So I played darbuka, mediocre as I was at, it until Daveed came along. We found him at Pennsic, where he had long been famous for his drumming and teaching. He just happened to be moving to Charlotte NC, just 2 hours away. We were introduced to Shahriar (who has since moved to Boston) by someone at the SC Arts Commision. (Who, by the way, were very helpfull in helping us get started) We had an ud player for awhile, another USC student, but his parents wouldn't let him travel. We found Denys at the Pittsburgh International Festival. This is a really wonderfull event, where we found Denys playing kaval with a Bulgarian group. We bought a cumbus for him in Instanbul, and now he plays that with us as well. Ted has been the driving force behind Turku, researching the music and the business of music; even going so far as to assemble a fabulous custom sound system that is perfect for our needs. He became interested in Turkish music on a trip to Istanbul. He came home with a saz, and found teachers in America.
We were not at all sure how we would be received at The Citadel; famous for being a very conservative Military Academy. But, the room was filled to capacity and the audience was one of the most enthusiastic we've ever had! (One dancer's Mom overheard a cadet say, "I wish American girls could dance like that!") We had no idea till it was all over that it almost ended horribly in the middle. Our sound man Dave is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, but somehow, he manages to get in some kind of trouble with alarming regularity. In the middle of our Citadel concert, a military type approached him demanding that he turn off the
music so that they could make an announcement. Someone had sprained his ankle on the way to the restroom and wanted his wife to come to him. Dave told the man he would have to wait a couple minutes till the end of the song, as this was not an emergency. He insisted, telling Dave that he would be arrested by the MP's if he did not comply immediately. Dave managed to keep him
arguing about it till the song ended and he was able to make his terribly important announcement.
There we were, on Uzbeki airlines, about to land in Tashkent. We weren't sure what would happen when we landed, as we had been told the wrong date and all the other groups had arrived the day before and been sent on to Samarkand. Would there be anyone there to meet us? How did we find our hotel? But, as the plane landed, everyone started cheering, and wegot excited. The whole band started singing Sheydaii, which somehow got to be our theme song for the whole trip. It sort of gives the feeling of speeding along on a happy journey. Our fellow passengers thought we were pretty silly, though. Everyone stood up at once to get off the plane. We thought we'd just let them and avoid the crunch. (Not knowing, as they did, what sort of line awaited arriving passengers) Then an announcement came over the PA...(in Russian or Uzbek)...blah, blah,blah, V.I.P...blah, blah, Ted Mo-neek, Carla Mo-neek, Robert Fargoni, (they meant Farzad, we'll never know how they got the name so wrong), David Korup....
Everyone sat back down...We looked at each other and got up. Nice people in spiffy uniforms directed us to a door in the rear of the plane where more nice people put us on a bus to the terminal (just us). We were brought in a diplomatic entrance and served drinks while people went to get our luggage. We were then whisked through customs, which didn't even look at our luggage, but stamped our passports. As we left on a private tour bus for our hotel, we looked back at the airport to see our fellow passengers
lined up for customs in the main terminal where we had expected to be. But, we were the American delegation to the
festival. We were overwhelmed and humbled by the reception we received, and the hospitality of the Uzbeki people.
So, who's eyes are on the cover of the "Nomads of the Silk Road" CD? The eyes belong to Aylin Alici, a Turkish woman who is the wife of Tevfik Alici, Ted's saz teacher. Tevfik was attending USC while Ted studied with him; and Tevfik and Aylin were married during this time. She came to America knowing almost no English; so she was very shy, but very sweet. The hands with the henna patterns belong to the dancers on the Nomads video. The photo on the inside of the "Alleys of Istanbul" CD was taken by Carla. It is a view of the historic Sultanamet neighborhood of Istanbul (where you will find the legendary Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia Mosque) from the top of Galata tower,across the Golden Horn. The Galata bridge, which joins the two halves of Istanbul, is visible in the lower right hand corner. Men fish with ocean rods and multiple hooks, catching sardines. On the Sultanamet side, you cross the busy street by an underground tunnel that has a small bazaar. This tunnel is always crowded and noisy. You hear men walking through the crowd shouting for their wares; and it was there that Ted and Carla recorded the ambient sounds that are heard on the "Alleys" CD. You then emerge at the Yeni Cami (new mosque) where women sell bowls of bird seed to feed to the pidgeons. Behind that, is the colorfull and exotic spice market, where you can buy Turkish delight, brass spice grinders, strings of cardamom, and the Sultan's aphrodisiacs. The graphic on the bazaar page is a photo of the Karpali Çarsi in Istanbul, the largest covered bazaar in the world. It's a great place to shop, but leave a trail of bread crumbs.
At the reccomendation of Laurel Victoria Gray, director of the Silk Road Dance Company, Turku was invited to perform at a reception held at the embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington DC. It was a fiasco before it even started! As soon as we parked in the semi-circle drive in front, we locked our keys in the van. This was not only a security
issue, but made it difficult for visiting VIP's to drive up. Security was running around, freaking out. Locksmiths promised to arrive in 1/2 hour, but didn't. Showtime was coming up, and Dav'id had no costume. The Silk Road ladies did the best they could, draping him in what appeared to be a table cloth. The reception planner that the embassy had hired ran in at intervals to scold and berate us. Then, he told the dancers that, since they had paid
for live musicians, they could not use recordings to dance to; never mind that we didn't know their arrangements for the choreographies, and we had never practiced together. The Embassy building itself is beautiful, but the ancient elevator went where it wanted to go, no matter which button you pushed. One of us ended up going up to the
ambassador's residence, where he was greated by scary men in black suits. Eventually, one of the valets managed to break into the van, just as the locksmiths arrived. Of course, though they were two hours late, they were very irrate with us for getting into the van. In the end, the performance went very well and the promoter had settled down,
having sampled all the caterer's beverages. The Silk Road dancers and Artemis danced beautifully. The embassy told us afterwards that they would like for us to play at their semi-annual music festival in Samarkand...but that's another story.
This is the tale of Daveed's serendipitous coughing fit. Now, you may wonder, why is there singing on the second album and not on the first? During our time in the studio recording the second album, Daveed had some sort of
respiratory infection that was causing occasional breaks in the sessions. During one particularly violent fit of coughing, we decided to take a break. However, the string players kept jamming. Up to this point, we had been unable to convince Farzad to sing in performance or on a recording; in spite of the fact that he has a great voice. In fact, the man is so quiet that we didn't even know he played violin for awhile; he came to us as a drummer! But, as they jammed, Farzad started singing. Carla gestured to Greg, our sound engineer, who raced for the sound board and recorded the jam. When we played it back, it was instantly obvious that Farzad's voice was a good sound for Turku!
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