State Magazine October 2012 : Page 29

Today, the band currently at the heart of the embassy’s rock music scene is the Backsheesh Boys, fronted by Gene Lin, a USAID engi-neer. The band started in October 2010 but has since gone through four iterations as members transitioned in and out of Kabul. In addi-tion to Lin, the band’s original members include Jim Bivens (vocals), Clyde Skimmerhorn (vocals and acoustic guitar), Fraser Moffat (bass) and Jose Perez (drums). Originally a southern rock band, the Baksheesh Boys quickly added classic rock tunes to its set list. Its main venue was the post’s old Duck and Cover Bar and the infamous “Red Tent,” but it has expanded its range to include the Camp Eggers “Clamshell” and the International Security Assistance Force’s “Club 37.” Later incarnations of the band included Leatrice Carter, Chris Meade and Mike Porter on vocals; Scott Brown and Rudi Berrien on bass; Bruce Byers on harmonica; and Javier Castano, Kris Kvols or Jonathan Terra on drums. Beyond its home-grown musicians, the post also supports the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), underscoring the U.S.-Afghan partnership and the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s cultural arts renewal. ANIM performers often play at official events. For instance, an ANIM women’s string quartet performed at a special Women’s History Month event honoring the embassy’s female staff. At the post’s 4th of July celebration, students in ANIM’s traditional Afghan music ensemble performed both the U.S. and Afghanistan national anthems. The only music school in Afghanistan, ANIM is one of Afghanistan’s key educa-tional institutions for reviving its cultural and musical heritage. The embassy supports ANIM’s efforts to provide music education to Afghan children and youths with grants for intensive music-education programs that train students on traditional Afghan and classical Western musical instruments. Many Afghans are also turning to rock and roll as an expression of their freedoms and to encourage change in Afghanistan. Afghan rock bands Kabul Dreams and The White Page have played at post, including a roaring set of contemporary rock and heavy metal at the “Red Tent.” Toward the end of each evening when Afghan rockers perform, members of the Above: Members of the Baksheesh Boys and local expat musicians Afghanistan National who mentor the Afghan musicians join the Institute of Music perform at an event for Afghans on stage for extended improvi-International Women’s sational jam sessions. As this sampling of Day. Left: Gene Lin, a year of musical groups and live perfor-left, and Nick Katsakis perform jazz as part mances at Embassy Kabul indicates, music of Mission Essential. in Kabul regularly brings together the Opposite page: embassy staff and their Afghan friends. Chris Meade of the Baksheesh Boys sings at a concert. STATE.GOV/STATEMAG // STATE MAGAZINE 29

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