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Monday, July 21, 2008

Master Musicians of Jajouka Denied Visa, Cancel Shows

posted by on July 21 at 11:50 AM

Here’s what Sam Mickens wrote about tomorrow night’s scheduled, now cancelled show at Neumo’s:

The Master Musicians of Jajouka

(Neumo’s) The Master Musicians of Jajouka are the keepers of one of the most exquisitely unique and ancient musical traditions in the world. Having resided in the same severely isolated mountain community in Morocco for centuries, the generations of the Master Musicians make an ocean of wailing, mind-rattling sound unmoored from the shores of either European or Asiatic musical convention. Having become the object of adoration and investigation by William S. Burroughs, Paul Bowles, Brian Jones, and, most recently, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, the group have inevitably found themselves in more and more frequent exchange with the rest of the globe. While these developments are inevitable and have had proven potential for exciting cross-pollinations, many believe that this may be the last generation of the Master Musicians’ existence. SAM MICKENS

And here’s the press release about Homeland Security keeping us safe from the Master Musicians:



The legendary Moroccan musical group *The Master Musicians of Jajouka*, led by *Bachir Attar*, had to cancel their July 2008 US tour dates this week due to highly unusual delays in the issuance of their US visas.

Although the group’s US visa petition was approved by the Department of Homeland Security, and they were granted P3 status which is only awarded to “culturally unique artists,” nonetheless we have been informed that several of the group members’ names were *similar* to those on a Department of Justice “watchlist” and that *therefore the additional processing time for the delivery of their visas would take 3 months* after their US consular interview. The normal processing time for issuance of visas post-consular interview (the final stage in obtaining the actual physical visa) is 24 hours in most cases, and perhaps a few days to a week in unusual circumstances.

*Bachir Attar* was scheduled to give a keynote speech at the *Concert of Colors Festival* in Detroit, which had to be cancelled along with a major performance. Shows in Seattle and New York City were cancelled as well, creating a severe financial burden for the tour.

*Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians* have been internationally recognized and highly acclaimed for over four decades and have performed and recorded with *Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones, Ornette Coleman, Lee Ranaldo, Donovan, Deborah Harry, Talvin Singh*, and many other high-profile musicians. Artists as diverse as *Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, *and* Robert Palmer *have written extensively about the group’s utterly unique and ancient music, which can be traced back literally
thousands of years.

This action sends a discouraging message to those who take the financial risk entailed in promoting and producing music from outside the United States, but the ultimate losers are listeners in the United States, whose access to world culture in recent years has been restricted.

These highly regarded, internationally recognized artists, who have been active for decades, who are acknowledged as “culturally unique” by the US government, and who have no known criminal record, should not be subject to such unusual and unfair security scrutiny *after their visa petition has been already been approved*.

In common with the arts community nation-wide, we feel that the US visa application process is opaque and needlessly confusing, and we call for greater transparency and accountability.

Refunds for tomorrow night’s show are available at point of purchase.

RSS icon Comments


truly a pity. considering today's post in Today's Music News, it seems like the good ol' US of A has more in common with China than we'd like to admit.

Posted by brian cook | July 21, 2008 12:02 PM

Remember that story about how there are now more than a million names on the terrorist watch list?

Posted by flamingbanjo | July 21, 2008 12:05 PM

The Master Musicians of Joujouka host the Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival in their village in Morocco on 29th July. The festival is a celebration by the Master Musicians and the village of Rolling Stone Brian Jones recording Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka released on Rolling Stones Records 1971
Americans are Welcome!!

Posted by | July 21, 2008 3:47 PM

I HATE the USA! I LOVE Morocco and ALL ARABIC nations! Of course people will have similar names, how ridiculous is that!? This was the ONLY show that I have been looking forward to with giddy anticipation all year. Homeland Security should be really most cautious of citizens like me.

Posted by paisagista | July 21, 2008 11:34 PM

I, too, am saddened and infuriated by "Homeland Security" decision to delay visas to the Master Musicians. I'd like to point out that the group led by Bachir Attar (see, who were scheduled to play at Neumo's and have been acknowledged as the inheritors of the village's traditions by William Burroughs and the Kingdom of Morocco, are NOT the same as the group hosting the Brian Jones event posted by

Posted by alp | July 22, 2008 9:06 AM

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