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Junoon on North American Tour - A New Era
Ras H. Siddiqui
(A Pakistani-American writer and journalist based in California)

April 25th 2002 - The biggest musical act from Pakistan today is about to hit America’s shores once again. Ali Azmat, Brian O’Connell and Salman Ahmad, a trio who form the Sufi-Rock Band “Junoon”(meaning “a passion bordering on craziness”) truly exemplify a Pakistani-American cooperative effort at its best, one that just have to be seen live to be best experienced. And lucky for us here, they are embarking on what can possibly be described as a new Junoon “Daur” (Era) in America as the release of “Daur-e-Junoon” their new album accompanies them on their coming tour of this country and Canada.
It is not the intent of this article to replace the advertising of individual performances, which respective area show promoters should be providing. But sticking to generalities here it would be safe to assume that by the time of this writing, Junoon are scheduled to perform live on April 26th in Atlanta (Georgia), April 27th Toronto (Canada), April 28th Boston (Massachusetts), May 2nd New York, May 3rd Seattle (Washington), May 4th Los Angeles (California), May 5th Vancouver (Canada), May 10th Minneapolis (Minnesota), May 11th Houston Texas and last but not least a personal favorite, in San Jose (California) on May 12th 2002 (Please check local listings). This North American tour is being coordinated through the Kehkashan Arts Council.
On Junoon’s last San Jose, California appearance in the late 90’s, I had written a news report in the Pakistan Link from which I quote: “I hope that Junoon, in its lyrical and musical defiance of intolerance will continue to find a receptive audience in both inside and outside Pakistan. On this night I saw Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi expatriate Junoonis (as their fans are known) enjoy themselves. But the time is not far away that I hope that in the footsteps of NFAK, Junoon too will be able to reach out and expand Rocks cultural horizons in the West through the statement of humanity which remains common to all of us.”  And as one can looks back today, it is absolutely great to note that Junoon has become the biggest musical phenomenon to originate from Pakistan since the late Qawwali Master, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (NFAK) Sahib.
Junoon have done a good job in bringing a message of peace to Indians and Pakistanis.  There is an urgent need for much better understanding between people in South Asia. And since 9/11 Junoon have shown much solidarity with the victims of attacks in New York (where Brian and Salman went to school together). It is work like this and the continual humanitarian message blended into their Urdu and Punjabi songs that have earned them the honor of being called “The U2 of Pakistan”. That along with Salman’s ambassadorship with the UN, his interviews last year on CNN and Junoon’s “Islamabad, Rock City” program on the VH1 Music Channel have helped spread their message and initial fame here in the United States.      
The fusion of Qawwali (South Asian Gospel singing) and Heavy Metal Rock & Roll is something unique. What the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had accomplished by bringing Faisalabad-Pakistan and Qawwali to the western world, Junoon has absorbed, but via a different path. They have brought Led Zeppelin and U2 to the Pakistani masses and blended Rock with local Pakistani folk tunes. In this process they have also given us here in the worldwide expatriate South Asian community, something very pleasing to listen to, especially those of us who appreciate the Geet, Ghazal and Qawwali and not to forget Bhangra, along with western Rock, Rap and the Blues. So with that in mind let me close here and hope that the “Daur-e-Junoon” tour brings out the fans of Junoon and their friends in large numbers to see their favorite band later this month and in May.  And please do visit their website if you want to learn more about these guys who blend the soul of the Punjab, the Sindhi Sufi’s message of love and the high energy of New York into their music with often incredible results.

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