We just got a note from The Henhouse Prowlers, who are doing a US State Department tour in Pakistan. They have become unofficial musical ambassadors for the USA, touring repeatedly in parts of the world where few Americans visit, sharing bluegrass music and good will wherever they go.
One thing the band has done this past few years on their overseas tours is collaborate with local entertainers in the countries and regions where they perform. They have learned songs that were popular in parts of eastern Africa, and invited hometown favorites to join them on stage. Audiences relish seeing the Americans trying to play the folk music of their native cultures, and seeing artists familiar to them trying to sit in on some bluegrass. Big fun for all involved.
Today while in Islamabad they had occasion to pick some with Saad Azhar Khan Yousafzai, a young architect who plays the rubab, a Persian lute-like instrument used widely in the folk and classical music of central Asia. They made a stab at teaching him Red River Valley to play along with them, and it seems he picked it up very quickly.
Ben Wright, banjo player for the Prowlers expressed how much he enjoys getting to share music with artists steeped in a different culture, especially from a place that to many Americans, simply sounds like bad news.
“I think it’s pretty powerful. Coming from Chicago, we know what it’s like to love the place we live, and have its reputation marred by a small group of violent people. The people here have been so gracious and the music is other worldly.”
You can read about the adventures with the State Department here at Bluegrass Today.