This and That

Random bits of my life

Return to Balabasta

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 27, 2011

Pirhana Iraqi band

OK, now that I’ve got your attention (that is, if you happen to like good-looking young men in tight clothing who can sing in Iraqi Arabic), this is the lead singer of Parhana (not sure how to transliterate the name of the group into English). Imagine about 100 people crammed into a tiny square to watch this band at Balabasta, the Mahane Yehuda cultural festival held on Mondays in July. Despite the heat, quite a few people were dancing. Or balancing beer bottles on their heads.

Parhana (Iraqi band)

Balancing Beer Bottle

They make such clever hearing aids these days…

Man with cherries on his ear

Violin and oud duo inside the shuk:

Oud and Fiddle Duo

When photographing performers I’m never sure whether to post group shots or portraits of individuals. Although group shots show the whole setting, I find that they look like snapshots (or at least the ones I take). Individual portraits have more impact.

We went back to Balabasta for the final night and I was pleasantly surprised to find almost no overlap in performers. We also went later and stayed later than we did last week, but the bands posted at the various stages was different. So if you’re wondering whether, next year, it’s worth going more than once, I would say that it is. Just remember that it’s very crowded, so you might not want to take young kids if they have a tendency to wander off.

Yo’ad Shoshani on bass guitar and Meir Asor on drums:

Meir Asor (drums) and Yo'ad Shoshani (bass)

Yo'ad Shoshani (bass guitar)

Meir Asor

A little boy having his face painted. I was struck by the juxtaposition of a little boy in a big velvet kippah having his face painted by a woman with tattoos and lots of piercings, in a cat costume. They were surrounded by a circle of parents. I had to kneel and take the photo very quickly when two people stepped apart briefly.



Edgo and Salomon playing traditional Ethiopian instruments:

Edgo and Salomon (Ethiopian musicians)

This is a krar, a 5-stringed lyre from Ethiopia and Eritrea, tuned to the pentatonic scale.

Ethiopian musician

This instrument is a masenko or masenqo, a single-stringed, bowed instrument.

Ethiopian musician

The chess tournament continues:

Young chess players

Band on the roof

Mahane Yehuda Street

And the winner of this year’s Miss Pungent Pageant….

Ms Garlic and Peppers

5 Responses to “Return to Balabasta”

  1. Mimi said

    Whoo! Love it! Thanks for more photos!

  2. You certainly do have more than your fair share of festivals… lol.. Nice shots Avital..

    • Avital Pinnick said

      That’s pretty funny, coming from someone who lives near London! But, yes, we do have a lot going on around here. It’s a reminder that Jerusalem isn’t all riots and bombs. 🙂

  3. pam said

    What a great job you did of capturing the personality and flavor of this event. Excellent images. It takes work and a great eye to capture images like these – no one is standing around waiting to pose!

    • Avital said

      Thanks, Pam! I discovered how difficult it is to photograph performers in such crowded venues. Sometimes I was too close but if I moved a step away, three people would have moved in to take my place and I’m not tall enough to peer over shoulders. The darkness also posed a challenge because people were moving quickly.

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