No blues is a unique project which explores the connection between two musical worlds: americana and Arabic music.

For this project by Productiehuis Oost-Nederland (ON), Ad van Meurs (guitar), Haytham Safia (Ud, Arabic lute) and Anne-Maarten van Heuvelen (double bass) were invited; their assignment was to investigate a possible combination of folkblues and traditional Arabic music in a three-day session.

Both folk-blues and the Arabic taqsim (the improvised interplay without a fixed rhythm) are exceptionally suited for storytelling; the former in a somewhat rawer way, the latter mostly lyrical and melodic. In the same way as Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie documented their era in the early 20th century with their songs, the instrumentalist is the torchbearer of a centuries-old tradition in the virtually unwritten Arabic music culture. Traditional Arabic music differs from other music cultures in the way in which the music scale is subdivided. Thus the music can adopt forms that are nearly impossible in the western octave system.

In the No blues sessions the musicians soon succeeded in establishing a singular integration of folk-blues and Arabic music. A cross-breeding of Americana and Arabic music, we call Arabicana. Songs about ordinary folks, love and sadness, played and sung in the tradition that is characteristic for folk-blues as well as Arabic traditional music.

The sessions were concluded in 2004, and in 2005 the HT studio in Gemert was visited in order to make the recordings for the first CD "Farewell Shalabiye" (Rounder records RRECD10) under the supervision of Ankie Keultjes. The second CD "Ya Dunya" (Rounder records RRECD 20) was released in the fall of 2007 and has 2 songs together with Tracy Bonham, and the third, "Lumen" (Continental Europe CECD29) in 2009. On all three albums they cooperate with singer Ankie Keultjes and drummers Osama Maleegi and Eric van de Leist

Ad van Meurs

Ad van Meurs started his musical career in the 70s as pianist with the folk rock-band Deirdre. In 1982 he formed the successful new wave band W.A.T. who were uniquely remarkable because of their special fusion between the synthesizer and (slide) guitar. By 1988, armed with his guitar and rhythmbox he soldiered on under the guise of The Watchman.

Haytam Safia

Safia’s music colorfully sources itself from his rich cultural past: he was born in the Village of Kofir Yaseef in Northern Galilee. A versatile and adventurous musician, Safia graduated from the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem in 2002. He turned to Europe, in particular, The Netherlands, for cross-cultural challenges, which included successful collaborations with the multinational band No Blues.

Safia has released eight CDs, which produced stunning albums full of emotion ranging from contemplative to exuberant, and jarring to playful instrumentation.

Three years following his debut in the Netherlands, Safia created a well-admired solo album, U’D, which offers traditional Arab u’d phrasing alongside magical Maqams, his unique trademark which re-interprets much of the traditional melodic u’d repertoire. His u’d improvisatory passages (Taqasim,) exquisitely produced, are further embellished with his meditative signature. His revelatory Nahawand track immerses audiences in a brilliant transcendent state. With a true contemporary and progressive approach to the u’d, Safia playfully manipulates recurring themes, underscoring traditional opening and ending phrasing.

Safia's oud-playing is known for both its precision and experimentation, his unique combination of classical Western and Eastern instrumentation blends beautifully in a playful musically- styled “conversation,”.

Haytham Safia has long established himself as a talented composer with a well-full of innovative ideas, exemplifying his gift for composition.

Anne-Maarten van Heuvelen

Van Heuvelen bought his first bass at the age of 15. His musical influence began with the blues but over the years he has been known to play jazz, punk, reggae and rock. After living and playing the gig circuit in New York he returned to the Netherlands as leadsinger and bass-player of the 50s style blues-band the blues

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