Muzikstan has been platforming live music from around the globe together with Birmingham's finest musicians since 2012. It started out as a localised grassroots biweekly event, run by a committed music loving team of volunteers and friends in and around Balsall Heath and Moseley.
During the current pandemic our musical exploration of the planet continues online for now on a monthly basis bringing you an intimate and eclectic mix of musicians stories and song.
Broadcast every first Thursday 7-8.30pm
Muzikstan was founded by Zirak Hamad in 2012 on a mission to provide a platform and meeting place for musicians and music lovers from all around the world. Under the goodwill and with the support of The Old Print Works he instigated a place to connect and share, to listen and learn, to understand and celebrate different traditions and cultures through the international language of music. Global journeys brought to life by music makers in a relaxed and cosy lounge vibe setting with everything you need to be at ease to soak it all in.
The first show opened with the legendary Paul Murphy, sharing his personal tales in rhyme and song; tears and laughter filled the room and a magic seed was sown. Every two weeks thereafter, local and international talent took to the stage, a cushion seated audience with open ears were taken on new journeys as musicians stories unfolded. An honest and genuine open platform, here to sing here to play, here to listen and be taken away. The journeys shared in that room will stay in our hearts forever.
That was March through to July 2012. In August we opened the doors to the courtyard outside and ran our first ever Muzikstan festival. So many people came to help and together we softened the concrete. Check out the photos and you will see the smiles, perhaps even your own! The space had been brought to life, so much so we continued the regular events in the courtyard, hosting the likes of Tara Jaff, Joelle Barker, Louis Robinson, Paul Murphy and the main man himself Zirak Hamad.
In November, Zirak went back to Kurdistan for a while, but before he left we had a massive party and this wonderful video was made which captures the essence and impact of Muzikstan. So many people had connected with the event and with a strong community we were all able to keep the fire going. Kicking off with the first of our annual Muzikstan Christmas Parties with Mama Matrix, Friendly Fire Band and Khaliq.
Throughout 2013 we hosted events at the Old Print Works on a pass around the hat basis. The cold floors and blowing gale were overcome by the love and energy of the people within it. A biweekly transformation, draped like a Bedouin tent with cosy lighting and homemade food, sofas, friends and the main ingredient- the phenomenal, the uncut, up-close and personal. Every event was different with an eclectic mix of music from all genres, a myriad of wonderful instruments from almost every continent. From ska to opera, from gypsy to jazz, blues and classical with a blend of everything in between. Traditional musicians from Hungary, Iran, China, India, Ukraine, Czech Republic; African rhythms and strings from the Congo, Sudan, Gambia, Brazilian flutes and Irish whistles. Alongside this colourful and vibrant medley was the soulful, the funky, the classical and the experimental wonders of Birmingham's musical talent.
In 2014 we teamed up with Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham, Brum Spirit, Bongo Go, Birmingham Hoop Fest, ASIRT, the Refugee Council and Friction Arts and hosted some fantastic bigger events with some super acts and managed to pay people a more worthy wage. Our annual summer festivals and Christmas parties have always been a hit on the social and musical calendar as we have revelled into the night. Some of the acts we've hosted over the years include, Yabba Funk, Culture Dub Orchestra, Afro Mio, Quantum Fantay, 360, Muha, Sura Susso, Qaraj, Beware Soul Brother, Jolt, The Equators, Hassan Salih, Sonia Indigo Clarke, Didier Kisala, Kiriki Club, Bonfire Radicals, Flautins Matua, Katie Stevens, Robin Auld, Mendi Singh, Layla Tutt, The Emmanuelites, The Glissando Guitar Orchestra, Kadialy Kouyate, Harare, Single Mum, Abi Budgen, Dan Wilkins, Seikou Susso, Shokuni, Dofadoquebrado, Binbag Wisdom, Jack Goodall, Sarah Weston, Toporkestra, Tala Tarang and DJs EIF, Goosensei and Hiphopapotamus.
While thanks is due to many many contributors, a special shout out goes to sound man Dan Hayward who was always there and in 2015 tried his hardest to find a way to pay everybody for their time and kept the torch going throughout 2016-17. Monthly events curated by musicians brought new audiences and a new energy. Phenomenal sounds, amazing collaborations, different backdrops and visuals, new staging, a new chef and new sensible storage boxes for our decor! In 2018, Zirak returned and we stepped onwards. After a cracking festival that summer, we moved to the new venue of St Columba Church in Moseley. A new atmosphere and a very different set up and it was already warm! Back running regular monthly events with local and national live acts we were awarded Arts Council funding in September 2019. Cut short by the pandemic we were able to move our events online, our world music lounge now provides both a global audience and a global platform hosting local and national acts as well as those based in other time zones and we can pay musicians a decent wage.
While the future's uncertain one thing we've all been passionate about from the outset is the sharing and learning of cultural traditions through music. Our plan is to keep the monthly events running online (until we can get back to real life) as well as hosting Masterclass sessions, an evening with.. learning about traditional instruments, hearing musicians stories and how they learnt their craft and watch and listen as they work their magic. Watch this space!
If you'd like to get involved, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgements and thanks to the many contributors, friends and supporters over the years..
Part of the success of Muzikstan is down to the excellent footage and photos we have been able to share captured by Ilvars Weinbergs, Karin Page of Lune Cat Films with Susan Ford and Kenny Bannister, Keith Eglon of Altergraph, Sorin O. Russu, Pishtiwan or K Pro Media, Marcin Sz, Owen de Visser and the late Stan Newton.
The Old Print Works our spiritual home and birthplace of Muzikstan. Were it not for the magnetic pull of the fantastic space and kindness felt within it, Muzikstan would not be what it is today. To all management, tenants and residents thank you for your support, generosity, patience and belief in what we were doing. A small percentage of not very much was all we were able to donate back to the OPW for a good few years and for that we are truly grateful. The place is an absolute gem in the heart of Balsall Heath, go (back) there soon, it's a very cool place with lots of creative things going on.
We would also like to give thanks and name some of the instigators and the grafters who have helped along the way, Andrew Bland, Mike Fletcher, Zirak Hamad, Sophie Handy, Paul Green, Laura Owen Wright, Bob Ramdhanie, MadMax , Miky Reghellin, Ildiko Nagy, Dan Hayward, Dave Checkley, Gosha Adamowska, Jus Garner, Ria Moeyens, Layla Tutt, James Dawson, Pete Nickless, Lizzie Smith Airey, Kate Wright, Wayne Earp, Ilias Lintzos, Celia Wallis, Gardinea Sam, Mary Collins, Ellie Mattiello, Catriona Heatherington, Ran Bashi, Kate Hall, Jenna Hallet, Marek Sun Juan, Noemi, Paulo Riddle, Nathan Sydenham, Julie Barton, Samantha McEwan, Beth Bell, Glyn Phillips, Josie Reichert and Ridhi Kalaria, Tessa Burwood, Rachel Cox, Sid Peacock, Nigel Holt, Shruti Tanna, Sarah Moha, Tomos Clayton, Becky Belcher, Richard Newton and Lonnie and Des at Sound and Light 2007. There are so many who have stepped up when help was needed and who stay on just to make sure we all get home at the end of the night, we appreciate each and every one of you.
And of course Muzikstan wouldn't be here without the musicians. So many have shared and performed their music with us over the years, bringing their instruments and passions, delighting our audiences and filling our hearts and souls and dancing feet with joy and inspiration. It has been a beautiful journey so far and we look forward to sharing more adventures as we venture on.