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Moneka Arabic Jazz brings a mesmerizing and unique sound that grooves hard

Band’s first trip to B.C. includes a stop in Campbell River’s Willow Point Hall on April 16.
Moneka Arabic Jazz will perform at the Willow Point Lions Hall in Campbell River on Tuesday, April 16. Photo: Ahmed Moneka/Facebook

In 2015 Ahmed Moneka was a busy and successful actor in Iraq who came to the Toronto International Film Festival to promote a short film in which he played the lead role.

The film, “The Society”, dealt with homosexuality and was considered highly controversial in his home country. It lead to death threats that ultimately made it impossible for him to return home. He settled into the multicultural artistic community in Toronto continuing to act on screen and on stage, and eventually formed a musical outlet as well. That outlet, Moneka Arabic Jazz, will perform at the Willow Point Lions Hall in Campbell River on Tuesday, April 16.

Moneka Arabic Jazz is a six-piece band based in Toronto with members originating in Turkey (saxophonist Selcuk Suna), Syria (clarinetist Majd Sukar), Greece (Demetri Petsalakis on oud and guitars) and Sudan (bassist Waleed Abdulhamid), along with vocalist Ahmed Moneka from Iraq, and Toronto drummer Max Senitt. Their music brings together Moneka’s African and Iraqi heritage, along with elements of funk, jazz, hip hop and reggae to create a mesmerizing and unique sound that grooves hard and will move your body and your spirit. Moneka’s songs speak to his remarkable story, concepts of heritage, resilience, the universal quest for freedom, and the enduring spirit of humanity.

Lucas Schuller from Highway 19 Concerts had a chance to hear the band perform while at a music conference in Montreal thanks to a travel grant from MusicBC.

“It was a great opportunity to hear some amazing and diverse music,” said Schuller. “I honestly didn’t expect we’d be able to bring this band to Campbell River though. It’s going to be an extraordinary night in Willow Point.”

Toronto is now home for Ahmed Moneka. He has a daughter who was born there.

“I feel [at] home. I miss Bagdad of course, so much, but I feel comfortable… even with the snow now!”

This spring will be his first trip to B.C. with stops in Kelowna, Campbell River, Victoria and Vancouver. Tickets to the Campbell River show are available for $20 or $30 through the Tidemark box-office at As with all Highway 19 Concert presentations, kids get in free with a paying adult and teen tickets are only $5.