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Ariana Delawari

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More than just a debut album from a gifted young storyteller, Ariana Delawari’s “Lion of Panjshir” is a psychedelic folk journey with a very interesting story behind it. Recorded in both Kabul and Los Angeles, Delawari’s own guitar, piano, and vocal melodies are soaked in classical Afghan rhythms and echoes of Laurel Canyon rock & roll. Delawari delivers a fresh and impassioned sound that exudes a universal spirit.

Delawari’s choice to record “Lion of Panjshir” in Afghanistan came with a phone call in February 2007: “It was my mother from Kabul telling me that the Taliban was starting to gain power again,” she says. As part of a reconstruction effort, Delawari’s parents had returned to Afghanistan in 2002; she herself had been going back and forth since then, diligently documenting her travels in photographs and film. The call though, signaled what might be a last opportunity for her: “At this particular moment I had a feeling that things were shifting- that I may never have the chance to record there again.” Three months later she and her bandmates Max Guirand and Paloma Udovic found themselves at her parents house in Kabul. Under the protection of two guards (AK 47s), they recorded the album right in the Delawari household. They collaborated with three Afghan Ustads: a tabla player, a rabab, player, and an 88-year-old dilruba player, the last living master of his instrument. Under previous Taliban rule these talented musicians had once dismantled and hid their instruments due to a ban on music.

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