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Your Source for Middle-Eastern Musical Arts in Atlanta  
 
Eric Peterson

Thanks to my mother and my Armenian grandfather, I was exposed to a variety of Middle Eastern music at a young age. I was also very fortunate to have seen George Abdos’ band perform on a number of occasions; naturally my mind was blown. Steve Kouyoumjian was his drummer and my earliest influence. His wife (at the time) was my mother’s belly-dance teacher. My mother was friends with many Armenian, Greek, and Arab musicians. She loved to go dance and hear them play, so she often took me and my brother along on a Friday night. You could say that I was marinated with this wonderful music.

I’ve been a performer and instructor of Middle Eastern and North African percussion in Atlanta for the last 10 years. It’s been an amazing journey of highs and lows, curves and bends, and lots of learning and growing, both as a musician and as a person. I’ve played with many inspiring musicians, and I’ve also played with some I would rather forget!

Atlanta is a great place to experience many things. I’ve been a street performer, played at Renaissance fairs, I’ve been on radio and television, as well as playing in countless numbers of bars and night-clubs, weddings, and recording studios. I’ve also spent many years in restaurants, performing and drumming for most of the Atlanta Belly Dancers. I also continue to work as a freelancer when other bands need a drummer, or do session work at a recording studio.

There have been many Yoga classes, breath/movement workshops, and modern dance projects that I’ve contributed percussion to, as well as theatre and spoken word performances. There’s the movement of music - and when it’s combined with the movement voice, gestures and poetry, the results can be magnificent.

I’ve had the pleasure of studying with some real incredible percussionists over the years - Hossam Ramzy, Souhail Kaspar, Layne Redmond, Armando Mafufo, and Karim Naji to name a few. I love to learn, just as much as I love to perform. I always look for more opportunities to become a better drummer, and I’ve been blessed with the teachers I’ve learned from.

As for teaching, I continue to maintain my private lessons, and I’d taught group workshops for years at Emory University for the evening program. I still continue to lecture and demo at public schools, such as Centennial Public School, Atlanta Speech School, Spruill Center for the Arts, and Friends School, to name a few. My favorite audiences have been the kids, they have the most inquisitive minds and the most intelligent questions. Their enthusiasm is always spiritually uplifting.

In addition to Emory, I’ve given lectures and performances at Georgia State, University of West Georgia, Georgia Perimeter College, Coastal Carolina College, and Gainesville Federation of Music Clubs.

I’ve always enjoyed playing Middle Eastern music, but I also enjoy blending what I do percussively with other genres. I’ve added my skills to singer-songwriter material, hip-hop and rap music, techno music, rock music, Native American, and even bluegrass. Some of it works and some of it doesn’t, it mostly depends on how well you synch with your collaborators. Music is music, generally, anything can be put together with something else.

That’s sort of where I’m at now, feeling like I made a huge circle and now back at a new beginning again.

I’ve been very fortunate to have played with many Turkish, Greek, and Arabic musicians, and have had lots of amazing moments, too many to list here.

I’ve been part of many groups here in Atlanta - Halfmoon Caravan, Gypsy Fire, Degah, Kinan, Kirmani, Emrah Kotan and the Sultans, Cypress, and finally the band I’ve enjoyed the most, which is Tesserae. These guys were such nice people as well as fun musicians to work with. We had some wonderful moments together.

My recorded work to date is Transportal with Halfmoon Caravan, Intuitive Sound sampler with Degah, Emergence with Kinan, and Pouring Light and Diamond or Stone with Cypress.

Right now, I’m in a transition stage, trying out new things, new musicians, and seeing where it all falls into place next. I just love to play music, and I love where it takes me.

I’ve got some good projects on the horizon, so keep your ears up!

For more information, visit my web site and feel free to e-mail me: Ericp37@yahoo.com
 

 
 
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