Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Hear this: MWE

MWE describes itself as a Middle-Eastern marching band. That’s a description of its music, by the way, not its members. The San Francisco quintet plays Turkish and Balkan party music, the soundtrack to belly-dance ragers in the street, maybe.

To quote the about on Facebook: One zurna, one davul, one saxophone and two clarinets. One million decibels.

The band plays 8 p.m. TONIGHT, at the Caris School of Dance. We emailed to get the low down on what this Balkan party band is all about.

How did the band come together? How long have you been playing, etc.

This band came together four years ago at a music camp, with a group of us that have been long-time friends and lovers of Turkish, Balkan, Greek and Middle Eastern music. It started with three clarinets, a zurna player, a tupan player and a doumbek player. Doumbek is a goblet shaped drum that is used for belly dance music. But it can also be very versatile. Predecessor of the oboe, the zurna is a double-reeded wind instrument that is known for is loud and shrilly sound. The tupan is a shoulder slung drum that is loud and driving. Zurna and tupan are actually quite common in music all throughout the Middle East, Turkey, Greece and the Balkans. For centuries, this pair of instruments has been used in processions, weddings, festivals or any other kind of ceremony that usually takes place outdoors. Adding clarinets and saxophone is actually a more contemporary adaptation to this music, and we were influenced in this direction from the band Kumpania Istanbul. We suggest looking them up. (Note: We tried)

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My top pick for ArtHop tonight: Michael Garcia

Michael Garcia Enso

As I write in my ArtHop picks in Thursday’s Life section, a new show by Michael Garcia is a big deal. His exhibition “Enso: Archetypes of Wholeness,” at 1821 Gallery & Studios, delves into one of Garcia’s favorite shapes, the circle, exploring the philosophical and psychological connections. I write:

Garcia, who lived in Japan for 10 years, was deeply influenced by his time there, and this new show is no exception. But, as the gallery notes, the artist’s work “also mirrors the strength and character of the Valley, echoing the worn and rust-soaked boards of Garcia’s grandmother’s home in Madera, a place that now only exists in memory.”

It’s going to be a busy ArtHop tonight. My other picks are shows at Gallery 25, K-Jewel Art Gallery, the Downtown Community Arts Collective, Corridor 2122, Central Valley Talk and the Caris School of Dance. I have a few examples of images you’ll see after the jump.

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