Bedouine + Gus Seyffert @ Bar le Ritz PDB – 8th Oct 2019

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My favourite type of music is the kind that doesn’t fit into any specific category.  This also makes it the most difficult kind of music to write about but I have brought this onto myself.  

I was fighting a cold and couldn’t sleep, so I did the thing that you’re not supposed to do when you can’t sleep. I went on social media.   The image of an exotic woman with long, black curly hair popped up on my Instagram with the name Bedouine and I was immediately intrigued. Where have I heard that name before?

 A musician I had interviewed, listed Bedouine when I asked if there were any good new bands he discovered, back in March.  I never investigated further. I guess I had to wait for that gloomy Monday night when I wasn’t feeling well to experience it for myself.  

Described by Rolling Stone Magazine as “one of today’s most vital new folk voices”, Bedouine is singer, songwriter and guitarist Azniv Korkejian.  It is a play on the word Bedouin which is “a nomadic Arab of the desert.” Born in Aleppo, Syria to Armenian parents, Azniv has lived in Saudi Arabia, Houston and Boston and L.A.

After downloading her two albums I told my husband that I had to see her.  “You just like her because she’s Armenian” he quipped. I admit that it somehow drew me in but I liked her music before I knew anything about her.  I was hooked as soon as I heard her voice.

While my monkey brain began to wander through the Syrian desert, as my grandmother once had during the Armenian Genocide, I couldn’t help but wonder…Could we be related?  A legitimate question for anyone who is part of a diaspora. It didn’t matter. It was her music that connected us and I would tell her in person.

The last time I was at Bar Le Ritz was to review the Stoner Metal band Truckfighters, so I was relieved to find the venue filled with a more gentle and sensitive crowd.  I got there early and managed to get a seat at the bar next to an old colleague that I hadn’t seen in almost 15 years. And then the very musician who had told me about Bedouine walked in with his wife.

I ordered a scotch and just as I savoured that burning sensation that soothed my sore throat, the band began to play.  The rich, bluesy sound of Gus Seyffert went perfectly with my Glenlivet. His new single “Hold On” was released this week and it sounded fantastic.

Gus has played for artists like Beck, Roger Waters, The Black Keys, Sia, Norah Jones and Adele to name a few. He produced Bedouine’s second album “Bird Songs Of A Killjoy” which was released on June 21 2019.

Bedouine at Bar le Ritz in Montreal

After their short set, they cleared the stage for Bedouine.  She emerged like a character from a play in a vintage gown with long flowing sleeves and antique lace.  (Something Stevie Nicks or Linda Rondstadt would have worn in the 70’s.) Holding her acoustic guitar, she gently plugged in an electric candle, which rested on a small stool.  She approached her microphone which was adorned with cloth flowers and opened with “You Kill Me.”  

The band joined her on the second number “Skyline” and each song after that flowed with delicate ease. Her vocals were light and airy but the way she lingered over certain words conveyed such profound melancholy.  Her sound is so timeless that I probably would have listened to her 40 years ago. “Solitary Daughter” reminds me of Simon and Garfunkel‘s “I Am Rock.”  

The subdued crowd seemed to really enjoy “Echo Park” which is one of her more upbeat tunes.

With sparse lyrics which hold tremendous weight,  Bedouine could be the lovechild of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.

Asking if there were any Armenians in the audience, she sang “Louise” which was a real treat for me and 2 others, who could understand the lyrics.  It was so lovely that it didn’t really matter if you didn’t understand the language. I had the chance to speak to her before the show when she came to the bar.  She told me that it always makes her happy when there’s an Armenian in the audience. As with any foreign language, so much gets lost in the translation but music connects everyone. 

What surprised me the most was her witty banter in between songs.  Describing him as an “up and coming artist” she covered Elton John’s “Tumbleweed Connection” and told us that he returned the favour by putting her on his radio show.  For “Back To You” she encouraged “consensual affection” stating “I like people making out to my songs.”

Saving the best for last she ended her set with the bittersweet “Bird.”  Try and listen to “Bird” without getting a lump in your throat.

“And bird, if your wings have gone clipped 

As I pressed myself to your lips

I’ll release you with what is left of your wings

I will leave you to sing”

“Bird” is about loving someone so much that you’re willing to loosen your grip on them,” she says. “It was written as a love letter with the intent of delivering it. It’s one of my favourite memories regarding the power of song. I had so much to communicate and this was the only way I was able to get it all down.” (Consequence of Sound)

 After the show, I got the chance to tell her how much I enjoyed her performance and that she needs to come back to Montreal and play a larger venue.  She humbly thanked me and gave me a warm hug which was unexpected and very sweet. I told her that I would love to see her perform at the jazz fest this summer with more exposure because she truly is a wonderful artist.  Although she goes by the stage name Bedouine, her given Armenian name Azniv means honest, kind and noble and she was 

  1. You kill me 
  2. Skyline 
  3. Sunshine 
  4. When You’re Gone 
  5. Echo Park 
  6. One More Time 
  7. Matters of the Heart 
  8. Tumbleweed Connection 
  9. Louise
  10. Bird Gone Wild 
  11. Solitary Daughter 
  12. Nice and Quiet 
  13. Back To You 
  14. One of These Days 
  15. Dizzy 
  16. Bird

Review – Annette Aghazarian 

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