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Roy Harper Appearing At Gateshead


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Serendipity brings sounds of ancient strings together

Sep 6 2010 by Tamzin Lewis, The Journal

// Add a comment // Recommend le-trio-joubron-98600114.jpg WHEN it comes to the popularity of musical instruments, the harp and the oud are quite unfairly near the bottom of the pile.

So for the two to coincide at The Sage Gateshead is serendipity indeed for underrated string instruments.

The critically-acclaimed West coast bard Joanna Newsom is returning to Hall One with her strangely-captivating harp songs.

//And the three oud-playing Palestinian brothers who make up Le Trio Joubron are performing contemporary Arabic music in Hall Two on September 21.

Joanna's last gig at the Sage in 2007 was on the back of her second album Ys, accompanied by the Ys Street Band and the Northern Sinfonia.

Much in the world of otherworldly folk music featuring woodland creatures has changed since then. Joanna is more glam-elfin than angel-from-the-heavens and her voice is less shrieky-small-child and more lilting siren.

The release of her third album Have One on Me has confirmed the harpist as a massive star on both sides of the Atlantic who is apparently spawning a revival of the harp.

Her Have One on Me gigs are with a band, rather than symphony orchestra, and Joanna alternates between playing the harp and grand piano.

She crosses boundaries of classical, folk and pop but her chief musical influences come from her passion for Appalachian folk and bluegrass.

Joanna's complex harp arrangements for her epic songs can be both ethereal and delicate, or galloping and ornate. She has to be heard to be believed.

Her support act on the evening will be folk singer-songwriter Roy Harper, who has inspired artists including Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Like the harp, the eleven-stringed oud dates back to ancient times and is similar to a European lute. As it happens, the player is called a luthier.

Le Trio Joubran are all luthiers, playing and building the oud, in a family tradition going back generations. Their father and grandfather and great-grandfather were all master luthiers, so Samir, Wissam and Adnan probably didn't have much choice in the matter. The brothers from Nazareth, are embarking on their first UK tour and their date at the Sage happily coincides with the International Day of Peace, which is also a day of ceasefire.

Le Trio Joubron take inspiration from maverick figures in jazz and flamenco, traditions which value virtuosity and improvisation.

And with seductive eloquence, they communicate profound ideas about history and musical evolution.

Their most recent album is a tribute to the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, with whom the group collaborated with for 12 years.

The eldest brother Samir says: "We have two battles to fight. The first is for our career, and the other is for peace in Palestine, and the end of the occupation."

Both perform at The Sage Gateshead on September 21. Tickets for Joanna Newsom are £7 to £25 and can be booked online at www.thesagegateshead.org , or by calling 0191 443 4661.

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