Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Jul 24th
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

 

Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.