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Fete de La Musique open-air street party going ahead on Saturday

Beirut's annual summer street party, the 24th Fete de La Musique organized by the French Embassy and the French Cultural Center in Beirut will take place on Saturday night, the CCF has announced. Originally scheduled for Tuesday evening, the event - which provides the capital's residents with the opportunity to see numerous different local Lebanese bands of all genres of music as well as some major foreign groups gratis - was postponed due to the brutal murder of Lebanese politician George Hawi.

Saturday's event is smaller than originally planned as many of the performers had other commitments and sadly will not feature the two big foreign bands scheduled to play. T hey were unable to stay in the country.

The top French rock group Les Ogres de Barback and the Spanish folk band Selpeyu both had other bookings.

"It is obviously sad that they won't get to play," Mirna Khalife, the communication officer at the French Embassy told The Daily Star, "but there was no way we could keep them in the country which would have stopped them from attending other gigs."

"The important thing is that despite the troubles the festival is going ahead," she added.

The Fete de La Musique is one of the most anticipated events of the summer for Beirut's residents, making fantastic use of the once battle-scarred streets of the capital, filling them with the sounds of local rock, oriental, rap and classical bands in an open atmosphere for young and old alike.

Walk down the once no-go area of Monnot Street on what was the former Green Line and witness electronic and rap music made by some of Beirut's most talented underground performers on a huge open air stage. Specially worth checking here are the outspoken Arabic rappers KitaBeirut - recently returned from two years of self-imposed exile in France where they have been honing their skills - at 8 p.m. and the late night turntable antics of Hip Hop and Drum and Bass DJ Lethal Skills and a live performance from the freshest electro band in town Delinquent Utterance at 11:30 p.m.

Across the tracks in Gemmayzeh on the Saint Nicholas stairs look out for the oriental sounds of Ziad Sahab at 8 p.m, the 1970s flavored rock of Three Apple Jam, and the pop dittying of Zeina Daccache.

While making the pedestrianized and renovated streets of Downtown come alive are stages of all types of music spread across Martyrs' Square, the Roman Baths, Foch and Allenby Streets. Look out especially for the Arabic and French vocal manipulations of rapper Rayess Bek and the oriental sounds of Fouad Nohra at the Roman Baths and the rock mania of established Lebanese residents The Kordz in Foch Street.

One of the bands that unfortunately won't be playing is the upcoming popsters The New Government, who, originally scheduled to play on Tuesday night in Monnot Street, chose to play anyway in local pub The Shakespeare to a packed audience who seemed to be sticking two fingers up against the dark forces and political intrigues, and partying for freedom.

"We had planned to play for so long," said lead singer of The New Government, Zeid Hamdan, "and we were unavailable to play Saturday so we went ahead. It's just that if we stop and don't play then we let the people who want to harm this nation win."

For a full schedule of bands, times and locations go to www.ambafrance-lb.org or call +961 1 420224.

Beirut 27-06-2005
Ramsay Short
The Daily Star



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