Comprised of a brother-sister singing duo (Sukhawat Ali Khan and Riffat Salamat) and a producer/guitarist (Richard Michos), this innovative band is based in the Bay Area but has a sound straight out of the Middle East. Both siblings were trained in Qawaali, which is a traditional Pakistani singing style. Their voices complement each other perfectly, at times becoming indistinguishable. This makes perfect sense when one considers that the two singers have been studying and singing together since childhood. Music runs in the family; their father was one of the people to introduce Qawaali to the world in the '60s. However, the latest generation seeks to not only introduce the world to Qawaali music, but also to combine the music with Western styles such as hip-hop and rock. They succeed due to two major factors: location and production. Michos understands the music and he worked wonders on the first album, Taswir, and then proceeded to outdo himself with Zindagi. Both albums were successful with East Indian expats and Left Coast underground scenesters. Ali Khan performs all over the world at festivals and concerts. However, San Francisco is still their home and when they are not touring, it's not unusual to see them up on-stage at the Justice League or another mid-sized venue. The band is known for delivering a studio-quality performance on-stage, thanks in large part to the showmanship of frontman Ali Khan and the expert band leadership of Michos. No matter how many instruments are on-stage or how many sweaty enthusiasts in the audience, Ali Khan manages to make a show seem entertaining and intimate at the same time.
by L. Katz