Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Sep 05th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Turning the Tables

music DJChebCheb i Sabbah has the vinyl solution to global turmoil

For the better part of two decades, Cheb i Sabbah has been experimenting with cultural mixing of the most literal kind. The world-renowned DJ looms over his turntables like a weaver at the spinning wheel, interlacing modern electronica with traditional Arabic, African and Asian music. But it seems that Sabbah’s DJ gig is just one part of his plan to bring the voices of various cultures into harmony with one another. 

“I want to be the president of the world for just two weeks,” the Algeria-born musician jokes. “OK? It’s a two-week mandate.” He explains that the first items on his agenda are to abolish the money system and to put the present leaders of the world in a vegetarian gulag “to reeducate them about what it is that’s important in life.” He also envisions a 24-hour worldwide general strike to “fix all the violence, poverty and disease.”

Sabbah, a San Francisco resident, has personal reasons for wanting to eradicate disease: He was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer in May 2011. Major intravenous doses of vitamins help minimize the side effects of his chemotherapy, as does the technique of hyperthermia, in which the patient’s body temperature is raised above 42 degrees centigrade during chemo sessions.

Due to a lack of health insurance, Sabbah is forced to pay for his treatments by way of funds from his benefit album, Samaya, and gigs such as his Don Quixote’s performance Friday (a pre-party for mid-July’s Mystic Garden Gathering in southern Oregon). “When I go somewhere and they ask me if I’m allergic to anything, I say, ‘Yeah. I’m allergic to capitalism!’” the DJ chuckles. He contrasts America’s healthcare system with that of China, where medical practitioners profit from patients’ wellness rather than from their illness. “But those are the people dealing with the five elements, not the people dealing with the billion-dollar industry that’s putting out all this stuff.”

More than a year after doctors told him he had just four weeks to live, Sabbah is not only still standing, but also still braiding electronica with world music. The fact that he’s never caught any flack from purists for the latter pursuit can probably be chalked up to his tasteful use of electronic elements and to the authenticity of his instrumentation: Rather than using samples of instruments like sitar, ektara, oud and sintir, he travels to such regions as India, Pakistan and Morocco to bottle the sounds at the source. The DJ lightheartedly states that he’s recorded musicians who had never heard of a click track. “I’ve had groups of women singing for me in Morocco, and they had never put on headphones in their life,” he says. “They were very sweet—they were just laughing and laughing.”

Sabbah’s infatuation with the music of many different cultures comes in part from his friendship with the late Don Cherry, a jazz cornet player who incorporated Middle Eastern, traditional African and Indian influences into his music. “Don used to say, ‘When you’re a musician, it’s a blessing. It’s a gift that is given to you, and that’s why you have to share it,’” the DJ recalls. He adds that what he’s really sharing is Shakti, a Hindu term meaning “sacred force” or “feminine power.” “Hitler had a lot of Shakti,” he notes. “He definitely misused it, but you could tell: The guy was short and not so good-looking, but he had so much Shakti that he did what he did. So, we’ve all been given some Shakti, and me, I’ve been given this amount of Shakti to share the music.” 

That, and to rule the planet for two weeks. Or, to say it with a little more Shakti: Today, world music; tomorrow, the world.   

Cheb i Sabbah performs at 8 p.m. Friday, July 6 at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. Tickets are $15/adv, $20/door. Call 603-2294. To learn more about Sabbah or to donate, visit chebisabbah.com. 

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by Rachel C., July 17, 2012
Wow I am glad to see he is doing well. I was very worried about him when I heard he had cancer.
...
written by Heart Tribe, July 04, 2012
He is playing after AUDIAFAUNA THIS FRIDAY at Don Quixotes !!!!
...
written by Cheb i Sabbah, July 03, 2012
Thank you Damon, see you Friday, much love.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 4

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs