Performing with Mary Youngblood

An improvised duet with Grammy Award-winning native flute player Mary Youngblood and myself on oud at DAYS OF SOLIDARITY: CELEBRATING ARMENIAN AND NATIVE AMERICAN SURVIVAL, an event with two objectives: 1) build bridges between Indigenous Americans and Armenians as two groups who have preserved and advanced their ancient cultures despite a common history of genocide, and 2) raise funds for the Lakota People’s Law Project, a legal organization dedicated to defending those whose rights were violated by the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline.

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Lullaby For The Sun

Have you ever heard a song that hit you in the gut so hard that you got dizzy and couldn’t stop thinking about it? Couldn’t stop rolling the melody around in your head?

Well, that’s what happened to me with this Night Ark / Ara Dinkjian composition. And the only antidote I had was to learn it. Alas!

Oud Textbook Launch

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BEHOLD! The ARMENIAN SCHOOL OF OUD, A 3 Volume Textbook by Mihran Demirchyan.

Mihran Demirchyan teaches oud at the Komitas Conservatory of Music in Yerevan, Armenia. I first studied oud with him there and learned of his vast repository of exercises designed to expand student’s technical skill and repertoire. Thanks to funding from The Khatchadourian Family, we were able to afford the expense of assembling and printing a first run of this text before moving it to the digital space.


In honor of the 2014 World Cup semi-final, QUILAPANA brings you a masterpiece from Argentina’s’s folk guitar canon by Atahualpa Yupanqui.

And check out these epic lyrics, in English and Spanish (translated by Michael Sarian).


Me gusta, de vez en cuando,
perderme en un bordoneo,
porque bordoneando veo,
que ni yo mismo me mando.

Las cuerdas van ordenando,
los rumbos del pensamiento,
y en el trotecito lento
de una milonga campera,
va saliendo campo ajuera,
lo mejor del sentimiento.

Ninguno debe pensar,
que vengo en son de revancha.
No es mi culpa si en la cancha,
tengo con qué galopear.

El que me quiera ganar,
hai’ tener buen parejero.
Yo me quitaré el sombrero,
porque así me han enseñao,
y me doy por bien pagao,
dentrando detrás del primero.

Siempre bajito he cantao,
porque gritando no me hallo.
Grito al montar a caballo,
si en la caña me he bandeao.

Pero tratando un versiao,
ande se cuenten quebrantos,
apenas mi voz levanto
para cantar despacito.
Que el que se larga a los gritos,
no escucha su propio canto.
[ Si la muerte traicionera,
me acogota a su palenque,
háganme con dos rebenques,
la cruz pa’ mi cabecera.
Si muero en mi madriguera,
mirando los horizontes,
no quiero cruces ni aprontes,
ni encargos para el Eterno.
Tal vez pasando el invierno,
me de sus flores el monte. ]

Toda la noche he cantau,
con el alma estremecida,
que el canto es la abierta herida,
de un sentimiento sagrau.
A naides tengo a mi lau,
porque no busco piedad.
Desprecio la caridad,
por la vergüenza que encierra.
Soy como el lión de las sierras:
¡ vivo y muero en soledad ¡.

Every now and then
I enjoy strumming the strings,
because strumming I realize
that I don’t even control myself.
The strings start organizing

the course of my thoughts
and in the slow trot

of a countryside milonga,
the best feelings
make it into the open field.
No one should think,
that I come in the role of revenge.
It’s not my fault if on the field
I’m able to gallop.
Whoever wants to beat me,
should be a fast horse
I’ll take my hat off,
because that’s how I’ve been taught,
and I’ll consider myself well paid
behind first place.
I’ve always sung softly,
because screaming I am lost.
I yell when I ride my horse,
if somehow I’ve become destitute.
But trying out rhymes,
griefs are told,
I barely raise my voice,
to sing softly.
For those who start yelling,
don’t hear their own singing.
If the treacherous death,
chokes me in her ring,
make my cross
with two whips.
If I die in a burrow,
looking at the horizons,
I don’t want any problems,
or demands for the Eternal.
Maybe after winter,
she’ll give me her flowers on the hill.
All night I have sung,
with my soul torn,
the song is the open wound
of a sacred sentiment.
I don’t have anyone by my side,
because I’m not looking for pity.
I despise charity,
for the shame that confines me.
I am like the lion of the sierras,
I live and die on my own!


Save Teghut Civic Initiative Update

The final Raffi Joe summer 2013 concert in Armenia was a fundraiser for the Թեղուտի պաշտպանության նախաձեռնություն – Save Teghut Initiative to celebrate the launch of the “Electronic Flirtation” music video ( Yesterday, 12 activists used a portion of those funds to travel to the northeastern villages of Teghut and Shnogh to prepare for the September 7th Honey Fair that will stimulate economic alternatives away from the pervasiveness of minimally regulated/maximally problematic mining operations gravely threatening the future of Armenia’s environment and the villages that thrive in its splendor. I want to thank all the great people who helped make that concert a success in supporting a truly significant environmental initiative, as Serj Tankian has attested.

From Anna Shahnazaryan: Երեկ 12 հոգով իրականացրինք մեղրի ու Թեղուտ/շնող բարիքների տոնավաճառի մասին իրազեկումը գյուղերում: Բնակիչները շաաատ ոգևորված էին, տպել ու տարածել ենք 1000 թռուցիկ ու պաստառ: Մարդիկ հիմա նախապատրաստվելու են, հավաքելու անտառի բարիքներ, փաթեթավորելու ապրանքը, մի խոսքով տոնավաճառը իսկական ՏՈՆ Ա ԼԻՆԵԼՈՒ:
Ընդհանուրը ծախսել ենք 42.000 դրամ Րաֆֆի Վարդանյանի նվիրատվությունից: Տրանսպորտի գումարը մեր աջակից կազմակերպություններից մեկը տվեց: Բոլոր աջակիցներին շնորհակալություն:

US CD Release Party!

After a year overseas with performances in Beirut, Prague, and throughout the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia, Raffi Joe Wartanian returns to Baltimore’s Minás Gallery & Boutique with renowned guitarist Brian Kooken to celebrate the release of PUSHKIN STREET, his debut album of eleven original “gypsy zest” songs.The Happy Hours‘ own Rebecca Messner will kick off the evening with original folk songs inspired by Pennsylvania farm country, rye whiskey, old friends, and hurricanes.

Concert entry will be free with a suggested donation of $5, and 100% of CD sales at the performance will be donated to Writers in Baltimore Schools, a program that provides low-income middle school students with a vibrant environment for literary development through in-school, after school, and summer creative writing workshops taught by Baltimore college students. PUSHKIN STREET will be on sale for $10.

Light refreshments will be served.


“Electronic Flirtation” Music Video!

Raffi Joe’s “Electronic Flirtation” music video, directed by Oksana Mirzoyan, uses symbolic imagery from modern Armenia and early 20th century waltzes to show the erosion of man’s relationship with one another and nature spawned by developments in mining, war, and tele/web-communications. Dancers, lovers, and lush mountains mixed with fighter jets, abandoned souls, and toxic smelters evoke the irony and imbalance pervasive in the consumption-centric, post-Soviet space.