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About Thursday Night All Stars

“It’s a cross between stadium rock, world music, and an elementary school play.” --Fan describing a TNA show

Picture, if you can, what would happen if religious leaders from around the world came together to start a rock band. Imagine the fusion of sounds and perspectives from East and West, with music, singing, and laughter. Then picture a religious woman throwing off her veil, dancing wildly and belting out lyrics over heavy rock beats or tight grooves played by a Bishop, a Rabbi, a Monk, and an Ayatollah who plays a mean Persian Tar. If you can imagine all of that, then you would have some idea of what a show is like with the THURSDAY NIGHT ALL STARS.

The THURSDAY NIGHT ALL STARS can be described as an Iranian jazz-rock band with a revolving line-up that blends world music, jam rock, jazz, and pop music all in one entertaining show, complete with comedy, costumes and a bit of satire thrown in. Each member of the group parodies the role of a different religious figure of varying cultures—a Pontiff, a Rabbi, a nun, a Persian Ayatollah, a Friar, a Sheik, and a Monk—all in light-hearted way of symbolizing a sense of harmony among all creeds, cultures, and sects under the fictitious ideology they call Selfishtology. Their songs involve vocals (male and female), drums, saxophone, keyboards, electric guitar, bass guitar and an upright bass, as well as a Persian Tar played by front man Piruz Partow (as the zany Ayatollah Fancy). The band’s name is itself a play on Muslim cultural tradition. As Friday is the traditional Muslim day of rest, Thursday night is generally understood to be a big party night within that culture. “We wanted to be sure we didn’t offend anyone,” explains Partow. “So we depicted a variety of religious and cultural figures.”

The music of TNA owes much to the diverse background of its creator and songwriter Piruz Partow. A first-generation American, Partow was born and raised by Iranian Muslim parents in Philadelphia. While exposed to classical Persian music since childhood through his parents, Partow also grew up listening to classic and alternative rock and jam bands such as the Grateful Dead. He later earned his bachelors and masters degrees in music from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. While he plays the role of serious music professor by day (he heads the string department at the Brooklyn Music School), he morphs into the rambunctious “Ayatollah Fancy” jamming on the Tar with TNA band mates until the wee hours on the weekends.

Partow fronts the band and plays the Tar (a traditional Persian string instrument) in a non-traditional rock/jazz fashion, using amplification and a distortion pedal. Also the band’s principal songwriter, Partow uses some lyrics with political and/or social commentary but with deliberate humor. For example, their rock love ballad “Being with You” invites Muslim women to “not cover yourselves but discover yourselves”; “Mahmoud” describes the tragedy of suicide bombers; and “I Hate Homework” is a humorous rock anthem against abuses within the education system. Other songs such as “Quiero Beber Mucho” and “Sexuality” are much more for pure amusement. Explains Josh Lindy (the Rabbi of the Beat), “We’re kind of like Spinal Tap meets Flight of the Conchords in the Middle East, or maybe even a religious Village People!”

Without a doubt, TNA is a full entertainment enterprise. Granted the lyrics and costumes are amusing, it’s their music that stands out the most. “We take our music very seriously, but not ourselves,” explains Partow. “First and foremost, we want our audiences to hear some really good music—and enjoy themselves while they’re at it!”

Official Website: http://myspace.com/thursdaynightallstars

Added by lauren.appr on June 19, 2008

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