Atash was born in the vibrant arts and music scene of Austin, Texas, where musicians called The Gypsies began creating an exquisite fusion of world sounds as early as 1996. Quickly hailed as "Austin's best-kept secret!" (Austin Chronicle), The Gypsies earned numerous accolades for their theatre and film scores, most notably their "live" score to Tod Browning's 1929 silent thriller, The Unknown, and their incidental music to the play The Conference of the Birds, by Peter Brooks.
As personnel changed and their music evolved, in 2001 the group became Atash, a name which evokes the life-giving ritual fire of ancient Persia, and embarked on their first summer-long "Fear No Venue" tour of the American West Coast. The group quickly won the hearts of even the unlikeliest of audiences, and returned to Austin triumphant, arriving home after 24 hours crossing the desert at 7am on September 11, 2001...
The events set in motion on that date changed the course of many things, including the path of Atash. Within two weeks they were back in L.A. for a 9-11 Disaster Relief Benefit Concert at the Sunset Room, invited to perform immediately following a surprise appearance by the Counting Crows. When they returned to Austin, Atash began organizing collaborative concerts for peace with musicians from around the world. In 2002, in recognition of Atash's continual efforts for peace, the group was invited by the Texas Civil Liberties Project to open for speaker Noam Chomsky; and in 2003 by the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram to open for the trancendental speaker Ram Dass, author of Be Here, Now.
In the late summer of 2002, the churning global events inspired Atash to create the company Ars Mundi to begin their labor-intensive debut recording project. That album -- Republic of Love -- released in May of 2003, is a mystical anthem for the ideals of love, peace, and tolerance, and it quickly catapulted the group into a strenuous schedule of touring, first in the American Southwest, then to the Sun Moon Lake Festival in Taiwan, then back to the West Coast.
By 2004, the group had sold out of their initial printing of Republic of Love, and received regular invitations to tour around the U.S. and abroad. The group appeared in the prestigious SXSW festival for two years in a row (2003, 2004), earning favorable recommendations and reviews in the media. In October, Atash revived their "live" soundtrack for the 1929 Tod Browning silent film The Unknown for appearances in Macau, China, at the WAC fest and Fringefest.
In November of 2004, Atash and Ars Mundi began their "Global Harmony" concert series, featuring Atash in collaboration with musicians and dancers from around the world, to critical acclaim. This project is continuously under development, in preparation for touring in the U.S. and overseas, along with a children's version of "Global Harmony," and musical workshop series.
With the tsunami disaster of December, 2004, Atash and Ars Mundi are currently exploring ways to connect the "Global Harmony" concert series with relief for the survivors of the disaster.
One word frequently used to describe Atash is "world class," as if it is unexpected of a world music group from Austin. (We beg to disagree -- Austin is one of the most fertile musical landscapes imaginable!) The group's members acknowledge the privilege of having the highest calibre of influences, having collaborated and/or mentored with greats such as Fairouz, Ali Akbar Khan, Simon Shaheen, L. Subramaniam, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Aashish Khan, Vigen, Francois Rabbath, Ram Narayan, Kazem Al Saher, Chuck Rainey, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and many other distinguished artists.
Atash’s debut album, Republic of Love, was recorded at Congress House studio in Austin, Texas, and was co-produced by the award-winning producer Mark Hallman (Carole King, Oasis, Ani DiFranco). The album features the original quintet's compositions with Persian vocals by Mohammad Firoozi; Roberto Riggio on violin, viola, and oud; John Moon on violin; Dylan Jones on upright bass, and Jason McKenzie on Indian and Arabic tabla and drumset. Also featured are outstanding musicians from India -- Indrajit Banerjee on sitar, Gaurisankar on tabla, Sathish Pathakota on mridangam -- and Austin guitar virtuoso Glenn Rexach. The work has earned international kudos and is played on radio stations throughout the world.
The next major tour in the works for Atash will be the Iberian Tour of the summer of 2005, in Spain and Portugal, marking Atash's European debut.