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May 26, 2003

Ambassador for a Silenced Music
The New York Times
May 25, 2003

It is the first week of spring, and the Bowery Poetry Club is packed with young Iranians who have gathered for an evening of Persian music and poetry. On a small stage surrounded by rough brick walls and a cartoon-style backdrop of the New York skyline, Amir Vahab takes the microphone and asks if there is anyone present from the town of Shiraz. "Baleh" ("Yes," in Farsi), roars the crowd. "You know this one," Mr. Vahab calls back. "Sing it with me."

Mr. Vahab picks up an eight-stringed chogur, nods to his ensemble and begins playing "Mastom, Mastom" ("I'm Drunk, I'm Drunk"), a Shirazi favorite. The audience joins in the refrain, and although Mr. Vahab cheerfully insists that the song is about "being intoxicated by love," there is something incongruous about a roomful of Iranian-Americans chanting these words, not just because alcohol is prohibited in their native country but also because in Iran the concert itself might not be allowed >>> Full text

Sent by Dariush Kadivar

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