January 22, 2008

B-Sides: MUSIC & OTHER EPHEMERA: People of the tune

Taletha King thought she’d abandoned the flute. The retired belly dancer now teaches out of several studios, and didn’t know whether her flautist skill would be relegated to that of a hobby.Whoops.King now uses her instrument for the classic Egyptian and Turkish stylings of Ahel El Nagam. That’s Arabic for “People of the Tune”; the group formed in April and features belly dancers who add a theatrical element to their performances.Rounding out the lineup are Denise Bader, who plays the oud, a North African instrument akin to the lute; sitar player Jim Honeyman, who also handles mandolin and guitar; and drummer Melinam who also plays dumbek (also called a dumbelek), a North African drum, and the riq, a type of tambourine used in Arabic music.“The primary focus is belly dance music, so we can pay for dancers,” says King, who teaches Egyptian and gothic belly dance locally. “Lately, we’ve been learning the classic Egyptian stuff; it’s good for belly dancing and also for listening.”King says Ahel audiences have embraced what they’ve heard.“We came from a wide variety of backgrounds, and we’ve been working on trying to create a single idea,” she says. “So far, we’ve been having pretty good luck.”You can catch Ahel el Nagam at Road to Morocco, the restaurant that recently opened in the Henry Clay building at Third and Chestnut. King said the group is exploring other venues, and hinted at recording in the not-too-distant future.Mat Herron is LEO’s Music Editor and will gladly spare the world his futile, ridiculous attempts at belly dancing. Contact him at mherron@leoweekly.com