About Center Stage & Arieb Azhar Concert

The Event: June 30 - show 7 PM (potluck supper beforehand, 4 to 6 PM) Chester, CT -- Meeting House -- STCS & the U.S. DEPT. of STATE presents "Arieb Azhar: Center Stage" Pakistani “East Meets West” cultural exchange show with Amalgamated Muck  $10

Here's an unofficial "review" of the show by an audience member

Dear Matthew,


I want to send a hearty thank you for embracing Center Stage along with congratulations to all at Amalgamated Muck for creating such a wonderful residency with Arieb Azhar! 


It all was so well organized - much better than a number of professional presenters we work with!!  I thought the performance went really well - smooth transitions, good camaraderie.  The Meeting House was a perfect space and the audience certainly seemed to enjoy it.  We can't wait to see how the video turns out.


Dinner was delicious and the musicians had a great time at AcousticMusic.org.  All in all, well done!!!


And Amalgamated Muck got a shout out from Arieb at his River to River performance here in NYC on Tuesday evening.


With much admiration and appreciation, I send all best wishes for your continued success with Amalgamated Muck and The Kate.





1501 Broadway #1508 NY NY 10036 USA

Tel (212) 921-2114 Fax (212) 921-2504


Roots Music: The Pakistani Sound Meets Americana, 

Center Stage


By L.E. Agnelli


Roots music is common to all cultures: native music with simple chords strummed on handheld instruments, hand drums or other percussion playing along, voices raised in song. Music is a universal, with common themes sung all over the world: love, loss, God, family, country. Sometimes, protest singers -- like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, or the Polish union leader, Jacek Kaczmarski -- also sing about injustice and the hope of change.


On June 30th, in the interest of common bonds between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, the U.S. State Department's new cultural exchange program, Center Stage, is bringing a compelling contemporary Pakistani songwriter, Arieb Azhar, and his group, to Chester.  After trying several other local Connecticut organizations to no avail, Center Stage asked the Small Town Concert Series to present an "East Meets West" concert -- with well-loved CT shoreline Americana musicians, Amalgamated Muck.

Called “A Bard of Rapture,” Azhar hails from Islamabad, Pakistan, with a voice “poised to start a meaningful conversation between Americans and Pakistanis.” As Azhar explains,“Traditional, popular music in Pakistan is very, very profound. It’s not folkloric music; it’s alive and part of the culture. The content these folk musicians used to sing about—and that I try to sing about—draws on our collective cultural wisdom. It’s based on very human values that transcend religion and race.”

A troubadour who found his voice on the road between Soviet Minsk and war-torn Zagreb, he discovered Sufi, Irish, and Roma gypsy influences. That’s how Azhar started to craft his own sonic world, a combination of Sufi mystical poetry with rootsy guitar lines to “soaring sweeps of vocal ecstasy.” He also combines rock with Pakistan’s gawwali (Muslim devotional music), adding the driving power of rock. His performing experience in the pubs and as a busker in Eastern Europe have served him well.


At the Chester show, here’s the concept: to two groups will be trading songs on stage like a songwriter's round. One group plays a love ballad, the other group follows suit; one group sings a lullabye, the other group follows with their lullabye. Sponsored by the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), this event will show the commonality of both cultures through music. Center Stage events are also funded by the Asian Cultural Council, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Pakistani musician Arieb Azhar is touring the U.S. with a quartet. They are looking forward to seeing Connecticut and meeting Amalgamated Muck and the fair folk of our Nutmeg state.


Before the 7 o'clock concert on Saturday, June 30th (in the air-conditioned Chester Meeting House), a community potluck supper is happening from 4 to 6 p.m. All are welcome. A $10 suggested donation will be taken for the 7 o'clock show. “East Meets West,” June 30, the Chester Meeting House, 4 Liberty Street, Chester. For more info call 860.527.4777 or visit: www.smalltownconcertseries.com/about-center-stage-arieb-azhar-concert or email stcs.ct@gmail.com