The Brothers Kalaycioglu


Erol Kalaycioglu with a Mardin Kermance
Erol Kalaycioglu with a Mardin kermance

Erol and Erdem Kalaycioglu work in a tiny split level workshop in the impoverished Tarlabasi neighborhood, the gentrification process of the city is now at their doorstep, the building next door now disappeared and the ugly sounds of construction drowning out the genteel sounds of craftsmen at work, Erol hobbles around making tea while Erdem works a lathe, they specialize in the baglama and Mardin kemence, with three strings and distinctive round bowl known in the Arab world as the rehbab, the neighborhood is home to many musicians that ply their trade around the mayhanes and bars of Takism and the brothers do a good trade in repairs.

A potential customer in Erol Kalaycioglu's Tarlabasi workshop
A potential customer in Erol Kalaycioglu’s Tarlabasi workshop

A customer enquires after a baglama, the price is accepted without negotiation and a credit card is produced, unable to deal with the transaction themselves they rely on a neighbor who can but sadly the card is declined and the customer leaves empty handed, Erol slurps his tea clearly disappointed.

As the urban regeneration inches closer the brothers Atelier is facing an uncertain future, almost half a century of artistry and tradition will no doubt be pushed into the suburbs and slip by wayside, in a world of shopping malls and hipster coffee joints it’s a battle few are left to fight.

To read the full article Notes In The Margin visit Halcyon Magazine

More travel words and photography from Turkey Hasankeyf; The soon to be lost city in Anatolia

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Your Favorite Busker on İstiklal Street Istanbul

Your Favorite Busker on İstiklal Street Istanbul

From the Streets of Istanbul series of prints.
For those that know Istanbul and its famous thoroughfare the sound of competing buskers is as much of an attraction as the toy town tram, I am sure we all have our own favorite but this lady and her side-kick accordion player must surely rank amongst the most popular.

Yasmine Hamdan: Beirut Punk

Yasmine Hamdan: Beirut Punk

Sitting with Yasmine Hamdan on the stairs at the entrance to an Istanbul jazz club, it’s a cold winter Sunday and the last rays of sun are slipping through the glass of the door, Yasmine is performing later that evening and her band are sound checking inside, we chat about Beirut and Damascus, cities tied by so many threads, one who’s heart was not so long ago broken and one who’s heart is currently being broken, without doubt Yasmine is one of my favorite Arabic singers and has recently appeared in the new Jim Jarmusch film, far and away the coolest living director, that and the fact the film is set in Tangiers should be the subject of our conversation but sadly it’s the tragedy in Syria that keeps us occupied, I take a few pictures, I can’t help thinking there’s a melancholy in her eyes that’s perhaps not related to the conversation, either way the mood is soon lifted and we head into the sound check.
The women of the Middle East get a pretty bad press one way or another but to me Yasmine seems very familiar, feisty, opinionated and independent and reminds me of many of my friends although her talent is clearly above and beyond, yet on stage her rapport with the audience seems a little on the shy side but once singing she is heart stopping and like those she admires is prepared to go against the grain, from Asmahan the Syrian Druze who dared to challenge Umm Kulthum for the divaship of the Arabic world in the 1940’s to Radiohead, her music often hypnotic and a voice smoky as Arghileh charcoal but at heart she is a Beirut punk and she is what the Middle East is all about, not a bit like you think it is.