:: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 ::

The Taqwacores

Muslim punk? This I need to hear.

The interesting world of Michael Muhammad Knight.

"After a disillusionment with orthodox Islam, Knight wrote two books, Where Mullahs Fear to Tread and the Furious Cock, which he printed as xeroxed zines. In winter 2002 he wrote The Taqwacores, which told the story of a fictitious group of Muslim punk-rockers living in Buffalo, New York. Characters included a Straight edge Sunni Muslim, drunken mohawk-wearing Sufi punk, burqa-wearing riot grrl and Shi'a skinhead.

Knight originally self-published the novel in a spiral-bound, xeroxed form and gave away copies for free. The book was later picked up for distribution by Alternative Tentacles, the punk record label founded by Jello Biafra. An encounter with Peter Lamborn Wilson led to The Taqwacores being published by Autonomedia in 2004.

The Taqwacores was intended as Knight's "farewell to Islam,"[2] but encouragement from readers caused Knight to reconsider his relationship to the faith. The novel has since inspired the start of an actual taqwacore scene, including bands such as the Kominas, Vote Hezbollah and Secret Trial Five. Carl Ernst, specialist in Islamic studies at UNC, called The Taqwacores a "Catcher in the Rye for young Muslims."[3] The novel has been taught in courses at Vassar, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Trinity College, Canisius College and Indiana University."

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:: Monday, July 16, 2007 ::

Buffalo Tom

Buffalo Tom, originally uploaded by alister.

Buffalo Tom
London Scala 11th July 2007

I had never seen Buffalo Tom before but had been a fan, so a wee trip to see them seemed like a good idea. The band have had a break but now have a new album out. I think the fact that I hadn't listened to them for a while impacted on my enjoyment but I can't fault their set and the new album is worth a listen.

I then proceeded to dig up the pitch at Wembley and dance in the fountains in Trafalgar Square.

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:: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 ::

Rankin Full Stop

I picked up a few tickets for the book festival and among them are tickets to see Denise Mina and Ian Rankin talking about their experiences writing comics and graphic novels. Both of them had a shot at writing DC's Hellblazer, although we are yet to see Rankin's. Rankin has also written about his early days as a punk in Fife, watching the Skids in Kirkcaldy.

So I was pleased to see the following endorsement of the Edinburgh People's Festival from Ian.

"The Edinburgh People’s Festival makes for a refreshing change. Its local,varied and goes to places the other festivals would never dream of going (though I can think of a few actors who should be in Saughton prison). Edinburgh isn’t just Princes Street and the castle and most Edinburghers don’t live in the very centre of the city. So I congratulate the Peoples Festival and hey, its an absolute bargain to boot!"

The EPF is gearing up for another year so check out the link above.

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:: Thursday, July 05, 2007 ::

Not Scared to Dance

Richard Jobson, originally uploaded by alister.

The Skids
Dunfermline Glen Pavilion
Wednesday 4th July 2007

Thirty years since they first played together legendary punks The Skids have got back together to mark the occasion. Sadly key member Stuart Adamson, who wrote much of their music and went on to form Big Country, died five years ago after a battle against alcoholism. But the surviving members gave it their all in front of a highly partisan and enthusiastic crowd.

Singer Richard Jobson was looking good and had clearly spent some time in the gym. The tunes were spot on and very loud as the deafness in my right ear testifies.

From the opener 'Animation' they brought to life songs which really have not aged at all. The success of the U2/Green Day cover of Skids tune 'The Saints are Coming' is testament to this.

Highlights included Into the Valley and Masquerade and of course set closer 'TV Stars' which had some interesting new lyrics about TV chef Gordon Ramsay attached.

The only criticism I would have would be the repetition of songs in the encores, clearly it was only possible to rehearse a certain number of tunes.

The audience were left deaf, soaked in sweat and buzzing and you can't say better than that.

Setlist (courtesy of Big Country message board):

  • intro music: peaceful times,

  • animation,

  • of one skin (superb, totally superb!),

  • melancholy soldiers,

  • a woman in winter (superb!),

  • saints are coming,

  • yankee dollar,

  • olympian,

  • charles,

  • out of town,

  • scared to dance,

  • hurry on boys,

  • charade,

  • circus games,

  • masquerade,

  • sloop john b/into the valley.

  • encore:

  • vambo (the alex harvey band song)

  • saints are coming (so good, they played it twice!)

  • 2nd encore;

  • of one skin (ditto!)

  • tv stars!

And some other folks youtubery (funnily enough the same songs I captured) can be found here and here.

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:: Sunday, July 01, 2007 ::

Glasgow Airport

Edinburgh city centre was crawling with police last night. When I stepped off the bus in Princes Street I counted 7 on foot and 3 vehicles straight away. The already high security for the opening of the Scottish Parliament has been stepped up.

It is too early to say much about the appalling attack at Glasgow Airport. Many of us will have passed through the area where the attack took place. The school holidays are starting here and the place was full of families, of all races, religions and nationalities, heading for the sun. And two inept would-be martyrs aimed to kill as many of them as possible.

The result has already been a backlash against the asian communities here in Scotland. Meanwhile our first minister and some of the papers are keen to point out that the attackers probably weren't Scottish. So have local muslim leaders including the Muslim Association of Britain. Asian voters are an important part of the constituency of the SNP now and polls have indicated a large degree of support for Scottish independence from that community. The only Muslim MSP represents the SNP. So there is a complex dynamic of race, religion and nationality taking place.

We need to come together and stand against any racist backlash, regardless of the nationality of the attackers. We also need to say once again that there is no place in our society for murderous zealots but that means recognising that perpetrating injustice around the world has to stop.

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