I had originally wanted to do more with this series, but I am getting very behind (thanks genetics!) so I will tell a truncated version of the rest of the museum.
DH and I had planned our visit to coincide with a free “museum encounter” with one of the best oud artists in the world, Rahim AlHaj. Rahim’s story is one of exile, as having been an activist against Hussein’s regime he became a political refugee after imprisonment, torture, and confiscation of his oud. You can read more about his fascinating story here.
He was very amusing, cracking jokes about Arizona’s immigration stance and gently lecturing the crowd about peace and unity. He played two songs accompanied by percussionist Souhail Kaspar and then said he would like everyone to see his full show free which got the crowd clapping and the museum staff laughing nervously. Grateful for a tiny piece of live performance, DH and I went about our museum visit. As we concluded our visit and walked out of the museum, Rahim sees us walking and waves goodbye to us. We smile and wave back, making our way to the lot. He shouts for us to stop and chat, so we do since he had such a great personality. He asked us if we want to see his show, we tell him we really enjoyed his earlier performance but lack of funds prevent us from doing so (Ever wonder why we cook so often? Much cheaper than dining out and leftovers make a nice, free lunch.). He tells us to wait for him at the side door of the stage, that he would speak to museum staff so we could see his show free. He did, we did, and it was excellent. You will never meet a happier, kinder musician. If you ever have the opportunity to see him please do.
Interesting excerpt from an interview:
“America is a wonderful place – the country is gorgeous and the people are so open and welcoming,” he said. “But Americans are very isolated. The only people around them are the Mexicans, who they treat badly, and the Canadians, who are just like them. If I can do anything while I’m here, I’d like to help them understand other parts of the world.”