Junoon is now almost an American band but one with roots in South Asia. It has transformed over the 20 years of its existence with founder Salman Ahmad and his wife Samina slowly becoming New Yorkers. Brian O’Connell the original American member has also returned home, leaving only the mercurial vocalist Ali Azmat back home and going solo. One can remember a time when this trio took all of India and Pakistan by storm with their mega hit “Sayonee” during the 1990’s. They ruled the Desi rock scene for over a decade and performed in the bay area on a number of occasions, including more than one memorable performance at San Jose State University. Junoonthen and its remnant now have always been somewhat different. Sufi-Rock originated through them as Salman Ahmad succeeded in melding the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Qawwali success with his own version of Heavy Metal Rock music while adding some Punjabi folk music along the way. The success of Junoon was sealed but Salman never stopped with music alone.
Today, Salman Ahmad is an author, movie-maker, music teacher and philanthropist, who with his wife Samina is leading an effort to help the poor. Known as the Salman and Samina Global Wellness Initiative, it has been raising both awareness and funds for victims of floods and earthquakes and for people displaced by war. It should come as no surprise because Junoon’smusic has always had a dose of social consciousness about it especially with lyrics promoting peace and love. Salman is possibly the only performer originally from Pakistan who has performed in Srinagar in the backdrop of Dal Lake. Deepak Chopra considers him a friend and the two have even co-authored articles promoting harmony in mainstream newspapers. Salman has also been a past United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and has played his music for various international dignitaries including the Secretary General.
Keeping this background in mind an event where Junoon meets Desithrill (billed as Desihangama 2012 Fashion Show and Eid Celebration,) to have plenty of fun, see an exciting fashion show and to raise some funds for the SSGWI organization. Junoon’s music is also going to be a major factor in this celebration, one in which people of all nationalities, religions and without borders are invited to attend.
Desihangama 2012 is going to have to meet high expectations. This scribe for one would like to see a catwalk to Junoon’s mystical Ghoom number. Right out of the realm of the whirling dervish with Desithrill models leading the way, it should be quite a challenge to execute and an experience to witness.
August 25, 7 p.m. Chandni Restaurant, 5748 Mowry School Road, Newark. Tickets :$50, VVIP $100. (510) 825-0898. www.elahiandcompanies.com. www.ssgwi.org.