Badr Benjelloun is no stranger to bringing people together. The tech-savvy Beijing restauranteur and berimbau collector is the renaissance man behind the DazeFEAST gathering that saw hundreds of music lovers sit side-by-side with local Beijing bands to devour whole roast lambs at Dos Kolegas for several years in a row on his birthday.
Tonight several Beijing musicians have something different in mind to celebrate his birthday.
According to Badr, “people here are looking for kindred spirits,” and they are likely not only to find other Americana enthusiasts here, but also a whole wall of painstakingly selected spirits from his collection.
Tonight is an unofficial launchpad for his upcoming new open mic, which promises to focus on country, folk and Americana, of the likes of Johnny Cash, Townes van Zandt, and the kind of old-timey fair covered by Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band.
“I’ve had the idea for quite some time, but the situation around it wasn’t ready. There hasn’t been a country band around for a while,” Badr says.
By hosting the open mic at his restaurant, Caravan, he hopes to foster more bands by giving them a place to hang out and create. “It’s about time we get another bunch of kids doing that,” he says.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Be on the lookout for the new open mic in Beijing, which promises to start as a bi-monthly or monthly affair, with the hope of working it up to weekly.
Having witnessed Badr’s love of Johnny Cash first-hand, I’m looking forward to seeing him sing “Moraccan country songs” he’s working on with his new band, Moor Hick.