Albania meets Ballard

photo from

The Tractor Tavern hosted a concert by Meliti Halili and Raif Hyseni the other night. Big names in Albanian music, they describe what they do as Urban Albanian Folk, and it's pretty good. Pretty different, too. You can hear some here.

Ruled for centuries by the Turks, Albania is a Muslim country and you can hear Middle Eastern sounds in their songs. It's also a European country and voraciously absorbs Western influences. You would, too, if you'd lived under the weird, reclusive Communist dictatorship they endured from 1945 to 1990. You can hear both Eastern and Western cultural influences in the music. Some songs had a slightly slowed down beat that reminded me of Jamaican reggae. World music, indeed.

It was great fun. There can't be too many Albanians in our area but I suspect most were at the Tractor. Young guys lounging at the bar were eyeing stylish young women at the tables. Entire families gathered with friends to have a good time. It must have been a treat to just "be Albanian" for a night amongst people who spoke your language and understood your ways.

I like the music. Halili has quite a voice. The crowd knew all the songs and erupted into cheers at each. Hyseni is a virtuoso accordionist. They had three back-up musicians, a guitarist, drummer, and clarinetist/saxophonist. Many of the songs used a call-and-response form: Halili sang a line and either the reed guy or Hyseni would reply.

Lots of dancing, to be sure. Folks would just grab hands and make for the dance floor, then form lines and snake all around the place. When the dancing got really hot, Hyseni would lead the band in some long jams to keep the fun going.

It was a great night out.

Friday Cats: Maybe If I Ignore You...

photo by Ballard Avenue'll go away and take that damned camera with you.

Ballard Natural Gas

photo by Ballard Avenue

Well, the camera never left the case so I don't have any pictures of where we were. Sorry. You'll have to make do with another installment of Businesses With Ballard In Their Names. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ballard Natural Gas Service Inc.!

Friday Cats: Still a Sweetie

photo by Ballard Avenue

Aye, that she is.

We're leaving town for awhile so there'll be little going on here. I won't have any way to post. But I'll have the camera and will be taking snapshots. Maybe we'll meet some new cats.

Ballard Pediatric Clinic

photo by Ballard Avenue

Wants. Needs. Ballard can satisfy both. No kid wants to go to the pediatrician, but if she needs to, the Ballard Pediatric Clinic is ready.

A lot of places in Ballard have "Ballard" as part of their name and we'll be showing them from time to time.

Amber Waves of Grain

photo by Ballard Avenue

Or maybe just a hayfield. We took advantage of a day off from the Ring cycle to visit the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. They've just cut the hay and are letting it dry before baling.

Friday Cats: There Better Be One

photo by Ballard Avenue

The e-mail was overflowing and none of it was nice...

"I don't care if you're taking the week off, I want my Friday Cats!"
"Hey, #$#&*!!**! Friday Cats *&^%$#$!!"
"Laura and me r on vakashun but wud like r Friday Kats."

OK already. Here's a sweet calico who lives down the street.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

Ballard Avenue will be taking this week off to attend the Ring cycle operas in Seattle. For the non-Wagnerians amongst us, the Ring is four operas presented over six nights. It's the story of a real estate deal gone really bad. Wotan's scheme to get his castle built opens up a No. 10 size can of worms featuring greed, lust, hatred, spite, malice, and The Norns. And how different is that from most real estate deals, anyway?

Blackberries redux

photo by Ballard Avenue

Think of them as pie on the hoof.

Friday Cats: Possessed?

photo by Ballard Avenue

Or just half asleep? Enquiring minds want to know.

Ballard Hardw-r-

photo by Ballard Avenue

For many years, this was the home of Ballard Hardware. They had everything hardware for sale and somehow someone on the staff knew where it was. It was an amazing hodgepodge/higgledy-piggledy/rat warren collection of stuff. No one believed it could all be moved. But somehow it was and Ballard Hardware is now in fancy new digs down the street.

Block party

photo by Ballard Avenue

It was block party night on our street. Good food, good neighbors—it's always a good time. Sorry for the blacked-out eyes but we're all in the Witness Protection Program.

A Man With a Horn

photo by Ballard Avenue

On one song, two of the trumpeters came down off the stage onto the street and were throwing licks back and forth to each other and to the band. ¡Muy caliente!