(Los Angeles)If you shoulder your way through the crowd around the bar at Molly Malone’s in the Fairfax neighborhood of LA – best known for synagogues, yeshivas, and families walking to temple on Friday nights – you will find a large black door behind which is the Snug, one of LA’s best mid-sized music venues. Since 1969, The Snug has been presenting Irish and Celtic talent and rootsy, listenable music to LA, including artists like Flogging Molly, Joan Osborne, Jeff Healey, and Lenny Kravitz, to name just a few.
By definition Molly Malone’s is not the first place you would look for a tall, blond, green-eyed blueswoman from Lebanon, backed by a finger-picking saz player (long-necked mandolin) who earned his chops in Turkey, and a down-to-earth, rock-solid blues band. But that is exactly who musically celebrated World Peace Day at Molly Malone’s Friday. Amanda Abizaid returned to Molly Malone’s, where he musical career began.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, to an American mother and a Mexican/Lebanese father, she traveled the Middle East and Europe with her family until she was ten when she moved to the United States. She absorbed music from Middle East and from the late 70s artists like Alice Cooper, Elton John, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and The Beatles. Along the way She studied drama, music, and hairstyling and was a top runway model for names like Oscar de la Renta. Her musical talent blossomed in LA with backup vocals for TV shows and then hit it big with her soundtrack recording for The 4400.
The crowd at Molly Malone’s probably knew most of that since they were obviously fans, but her experience certainly showed as she deftly delivered eleven mesmerizing songs, punctuated by her soulful flute and sharp-as-a-tack arrangements, blending Middle Eastern rhythms and notes with blues and rock. She gave us something for everyone and along the way taught us that music is a force common to all people, regardless of who they are or what kind of scales or beats or dance they were raised with. The effect was remarkable and so much fun.
Abizaid opened with a salute to World Peace Day with her two songs “One Love” and “Of Kings and Prophets”, then drew from her albums Walking in Twos, This Life and Be in Love for the rest of the set. Along the way she gave us the unreleased songs “Everyone” and “My Hero”, and then, pulling the audience closer to her with that smile, closed with the inspiring call for love and tolerance “Walking in Twos”.
Along with the music she gave us laughter and conversation, displaying a genuine personality that loved being there, loved that we were there and loved every minute of what she was doing. She made the night intimate for a very good and happy crowd.
All of Abizaid’s music is at the top of my playlist, one reason I was willing to catch her at an Irish pub or anywhere else. Seeing her live with her flute and her the band and experiencing her swaying Middle Eastern notes smoothly swirled into blues and pop and rock was an experience I will cherish and that no one should miss.
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