Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Mar 29th
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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals