The Habibi Kings at Swing 46 - New York City Article
The Habibi Kings
349 W 46th St, 212-262-9554
Thursday, January 25
You haven’t really enjoyed the James Bond theme “Goldfinger” or Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of Your Mind” until you’ve heard them in Hebrew and Arabic. Next time you’re planning a bar-mitzvah in downtown Dubai, or even a briss in midtown Mumbai, this is the band you want to get: The Habibi Kings are fundamentally a power trio, consisting of piano bar veteran Michael Garin, percussionist Ossama Farouk (also currently appearing in The Band's Visit on Broadway) on dumbek, and violin virtuoso Samir Shukry. They specialize in the music of the Middle East (the Arab states and Israel), and the Mediterranean (especially Greece and Turkey). Their music is so joyfully, pan-globally inclusive that, from our mouths to God’s ears, it could serve as a model of bountiful existence between the nations, political systems, and religions of the world. And that’s not least because their idea of “world music” also encompasses The Rolling Stones, R&B hits (like Earl Grant’s “House of Bamboo”), Stephen Sondheim’s “Sorry Grateful,” and other showtunes. (Presumably some of these will be heard on their forthcoming debut album, titled, we are told, Two Muslims, a Jew, and an Episcopalian Walk Into A Bar.) This premiere engagement at Swing 46 is important because the Habibis are, fundamentally, a dance band (make that a belly dance band) and there will be special guests, "Lonesome" Nick Mandoukos, on guitar and bouzouki, and “The Habibi Queen,” Mardie Millit, aka “Habibi Neuwirth,” on vocals. Two additional tips for when you go to see them at Swing 46: 1. Don’t forget to check your turban or fez; and, 2. They promise that valet parking will be available for your camel.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)