Bob Perilla & Big Hillbilly Bluegrass is preparing to take another trip east to the Sultanate of Oman in northeastern Africa. And they are taking a piece of bluegrass history with them.
Bob has made several trips of this sort for the US State Department, carrying a slice of American culture overseas. On prior occasions, he has travelled to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Togo, Benin, Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic, and Dominican Republic.
This time out he’ll have Ira Gitlin on banjo, Claude Arthur on bass, Jen Larson on guitar and vocals, Merl Johnson on mandolin, and Jon Glik on fiddle. Bob will also play guitar and sing.
Oman is a desert nation, ruled by an absolute monarch, and governed by Islamic Sharia law. It holds a strategic position along the mouth of the Persian Gulf, but is among the few Arab nations without substantial oil reserves. Culturally and historically, Oman played an important part in the spread of Islam into Africa, though they adhere to a sect distinct from the Sunni and Shia we hear so frequently referenced in current events.
Let’s just say that bluegrass is not a big part of their world.
Bob has agreed to send us updates from their trip, which starts this week and runs through August 24. He promises a nice overview once they arrive, with further updates as connectivity and conditions allow.
They are also carrying along an iconic piece of bluegrass memorabilia, a string tie owned by Kenny Baker. You can see Jon Glik holding it under his shoulder rest in this photo. Bob and the gang have declared that the Brotherhood of the Traveling Bluegrass Tie will be a running theme in their Omani adventure.
Look for their travelogues here at Bluegrass Today, starting later this week.