Musical guest STEPHAN SAID will play his music to inspire improvised scenes. Nothing is planned; it’s all improvised. You will never see this show again! (Read BLT Q&A with Stephan here.)
Featuring an INTRODUCTION by MATT KOFF (Onion News Network, Comedy Central blogger) who will speak on the subject of Beauty Love AND/OR Truth.
This month’s IMPROVISERS include:
Angela DeManti (The Weird Sisters, Magnet)
Matt Higgins (Centralia, Burn Manhattan)
Bradford Jordan (Story Pirates, PIT)
Nick Kanellis (Trike, Story Pirates)
Roy Koshy (Yes Andersens, Magnet, PIT)
Shannon Manning (Second City, IO, UCB, “Conan”)
Doug Moe (“Doug Moe is a Bad Dad,” UCB’s MOTHER, “30 Rock,” “Conan”)
Louie Pearlman (Story Pirates, The Spidey Project, Buckshot N Benny)
More about STEPHAN SAID Recording Artist and Human Rights Activist:
(Read BLT Q&A with Stephan here.)
Stephan Said, aka Stephan Smith, is an internationally acclaimed musician, writer and activist who has been called “this generation’s Woody Guthrie” (Billboard Magazine) and favorably compared to Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Bob Marley in publications such as the New York Times, Billboard Magazine, BBC, NPR and RFI. An Iraqi-American with immediate family in Baghdad and Mosul and a diverse heritage that combines Christianity and Islam, he is a prominent voice for interfaith dialogue, peace, and global justice. His song “The Bell” was “the first major song against the war in Iraq”(Neil Strauss, NY Times) and hailed as “the antiwar anthem of this generation.”(GNN) Stephan pioneered the use of the internet to distribute mp3’s and music videos for social causes on a mass scale, and his essays on music and global affairs have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive Magazine, CounterPunch, Sing Out! Magazine, Folker Magazine (Germany), The Huffington Post, AlterNet, Counterpunch, and others. Since his last album on Artemis Records, Stephan completed his graduate studies in International Affairs from the New School University.
Stephan’s new album, difrent:, with Grammy Award winning Producer Hal Willner (Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Bono, Saturday Nite Live), features his most universal songwriting to date, with cinematic love songs and pop anthems to global tolerance and peace in English, Arabic, French and Spanish blending pop with rock, folk, and world music. difrent: is Stephan’s first album reclaiming his born name, Said, having put out several critically acclaimed albums under his mother’s maiden name “Stephan Smith,” after executives at major labels in the U.S. insisted he “could never have a career in the America with an Arabic name.” The album debuts an all-star band featuring Cindy Blackman on drums, Kevin Hunter on mandolin and guitar, Yousif Sheronick on percussion, and George Mitchell on upright and electric bass. Strings and horns include recording legends Lenny Pickett, Howard Johnson, Earl Gardner, Art Baron, and Jane Scarpantoni. The album is being released to launch Stephan’s biggest project to date, difrent: a global broadcasting platform and one-stop for the music of social change. difrent: connects artists and organizations for initiatives having a positive impact on the ground worldwide, and promotes young voices that are making music and culture to advance peace, equality, and environmental sustainability.
Stephan is known for consistently using his art at the frontlines of social change, repeatedly breaking nascent initiatives and movements into the mainstream. He has produced several albums for his own independent label Universal Hobo Records as well as for Artemis Records, Rounder Records, and Caroline Records, and his songs have been sung by artists including Dave Matthews, Patti Smith, DJ Spooky, Pete Seeger, and others. Stephan has also performed, toured, or recorded with a wide range of artists including Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Ween, Paul Simon, Ani DiFranco, Phillip Glass, Butch Morris, and others, and.
Stephan was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest of 4 siblings. His father, Mohamed Said, is from Nineveh, Iraq, and is Muslim. His mother, Monika Smith, is from Vienna, Austria, and is Catholic, but parts of her family had Jewish relatives, as is typical of all Europeans, and the family took a stand against Nazi boycotts in WWII. His wife, Anushay, is Pakistani and Muslim. He is multi-lingual and sings in English, Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian and Spanish and is learning to sing Urdu(like Chaudvhin Ka Chand, teekh hain?!). He holds a Masters in International Affairs from The New School, and has studied and written extensively on global development, poverty reduction, weapons law and human rights. Stephan began playing piano at 3, composing and studying classical violin at 4, and guitar at 11 years old. After a sports accident that ended his hope of college scholarships, he immersed himself in the study of social movements and philosphers, from John the Baptist to Ghandi, Mohamed and MLK, Jr. He quit high school to play Jazz and then tour with several bands signed to SST records, beginning with proto-punk jam-band Always August, and toured with Sonic Youth, Dinousaur Jr. Firehose and others in his teens. By his late teens and through his early 20′s he became a migrant worker to immerse himself in aural tradition in search of keys to rejoin a society he saw falling apart at the seams when it needed to come together to address inevitable crises. In his travels he learned numerous folk traditions first-hand, and is a champion fiddler accomplished in Old-Time and Bluegrass, Rai, Gypsy, Irish, Arabic, Scottish, Ranchero, Klezmer, and other music. He lives in New York City.