Event Review: Benefit for Cheb i Sabbah

Cheb i Sabbah at Work
Last night's benefit for Cheb i Sabbah at 1015 Folsom boasted an impressive cross section of San Francisco.  A parade of DJs, bands, performers and dancers donated their time to help raise funds for Cheb i Sabbah's medical treatment.  Having danced for a homogeneous hipster crowd the night before, it was a treat to see how many different kinds of people showed up to support.  And 1015 Folsom was quite the venue- we started off the night lounging downstairs on pillows, sipping gin and tonics while watching bellydancers and the Dunes, a North African-SF fusion band.  At a certain point we wandered past the altar filled with healing messages for Cheb i Sabbah to dance with Jimmy Love and Rav-e (bhangra, not surprisingly, remained the favorite place for everyone to dance for the evening).  And we caught the lovely ladies of Dholrhythms, practically levitating with exuberance, followed by Fat Chance Bellydance, dancing with a blend of disciplined precision and bewitching sensuality.  There was a pleasure palace upstairs we didn't even get to, but I'm sure it was worthy of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."   The evening was a beautiful outpouring of support by people thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Cheb i Sabbah holds a special place in my heart and my music collection.  I first discovered Sri Durga while rummaging through the bins at Rasputin on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley.  I'd recently come to Cal and found myself disconnected from everything I'd known and loved.  Instead of studying Indian history, I found myself buried in mountains of Foucault.  Gandhi, who'd been the focus of my undergrad years, was quickly dismissed by one of my professors as a "batty old fool with parasites."  My boyfriend (now my husband) was working outside of Santa Barbara, and I rarely saw him.  But through Sri Durga, and later Krishna Lila, I was able to hear again the sounds of India.  Cheb i Sabbah's music lead me through endless papers and long drives south, providing me with the auditory connection I craved.  From the throaty sounds of La Kahena to the smooth simplicity of Devotion, Cheb i Sabbah's music became a part of the fabric of my life.

The prognosis for stage IV stomach cancer is not good.  I think it's time for us as a country to take a collective breath and grow up- preventative care, regular doctor's visits, and medical treatment for all Americans is a basic human right.  My best wishes are with Cheb i Sabbah, as well as gratitude for what his music has given me.  And from the size of the crowd last night, I know his work has touched the lives of many, many other people as well.  

Here's one of my favorite songs by Cheb i Sabbah, "Rupa Tujhe Deva" from Krishna Lila: