AFCENT band makes history on Bayan Radio

KABUL, Afghanistan --

The U.S. Air Force Central Command Band, Touch 'N Go, made history as the first ensemble of western musicians to ever be featured on Bayan Radio in Afghanistan.  It is the country’s second largest radio station reaching over 1.2 million Afghan listeners.  

For 90 minutes, the band performed various acoustic songs in collaboration with other Afghan musicians and took calls from listeners throughout the Afghan provinces. 

"We met for a quick rehearsal the day before," said the band's Non-commissioned OIC and keyboardist Master Sgt. Andrew Benton. "We rehearsed some traditional Afghan songs and one of our American songs. As we combined our instruments and voices, we knew we were on to something great. This is the first time this type of collaboration has taken place."

"I especially enjoyed the many phone calls that came in from listeners during the show," added Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Larson, Director of Operations for the band. "There was a lot of interest from many regions throughout the country."

The two musicians that performed with the band are Sayed Homayoun Alimi on harmonium and vocals, and Satar Nangialiy who played tabla. Both of these men grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan and fled the country when they were teenagers. They immigrated to the United States with their families to escape the perils that plagued Afghanistan. They are both currently working for the Unites States military as contractors in Afghanistan.

"The first song we played was based on a famous poem by the Afghan poet Rumi," said Sayed. "It tells of the tree of life [which] has many straw branches for each of us to blow through like a flute. We are all singing a different song, but we all come from the same place. Through music and art we can gain a better understanding of one another and we find out that we have more in common than we initially realized," continued Sayed.

"Cultural exchange is the key to accepting one another," added Satar as he tuned his tabla drums.  "Art always builds a sense of community among people."

"Performing with these American musicians illustrates the true value of art," continued Sayed.  "The message is about love and it makes criminal things disappear from society.”

"This was very, very special," said Farzan Ibrahimi, Chief Print editor at Bayan Radio. "It was wonderful, and I look forward to doing it again soon."

The collaboration was so successful that history will repeat itself when the AFCENT Band rejoins Bayan Radio in a December 2014 radio broadcast. 

Keep up with the AFCENT Band on their Facebook page or visit: http://www.afcent.af.mil/units/afcentband/index.asp