Those of you who have been to Marrakech will no doubt have revelled in the dark excitments of Jemaa El Fnaa - the Square Of The Dead. My recent trip to Morocco, where I took a long haul trip across the Southern flank of this jaw droppingly large country, meant a first for me in Marrakech. And in Jemaa, I managed to come across some excellent traditional music. I got some of the live sets on camera, initially for the sound (I love listening back to soundscapes of different cities I have visited), but the video is interested, albeit shaky.
Now, I absolutely hate sideways videos - but I got a bit confused in the dark and chaos of a late night Jemaa El Fnaa. I had just been rumbled by the snake charmers of the Square, who fleeched me and a travel friend of ten euro, so I was still a bit unerved and disorientated. Nevertheless, what we ended up witnessing (I have been informed) were the remaining members of a classic Moroccan band called Nass El Ghiwane.
The music is utterly fantastic. Nass El Ghiwane are the same band from the Ahmed El Maanouni 1981 film 'Transes', which was restored and released on the Criterion Collection by Martin Scorsese a few years back. As you can see from the start of the 'Transes' video, the mania surrounding this band in their heyday reached something of a frenzy, and quiet unseen in modern day terms.
I have another sample of an equally fantastic band of musicians I recorded in Jemaa El Fnaa on this recent November trip which I will post in the next blog update. Meanwhile enjoy, and please comment with any recommended places to visit for my next trip to Marrakech!
Eamonn Sheehy - travel writing with a focus on people and culture.