Inspiration, Co-founder, advisor and Honorary Underground Nomads Resident DJ.
Underground Nomads Tuesday nights are dedicated to Chebiji’s music. This page will be an ever-growing tribute to Cheb i Sabbah. We will be posting more info, links to videos and music, events, etc. for and in honor of Chebiji.
NOTE: We are working on a new page in Chebiji’s honor. Currently it is a copy of this page, with more information and links added. Over the next few weeks, additional details will be added to his permanent page.
We wish to thank our venue, F8 – 1192 Folsom, for all of the support with launching these nights, and continuing to be there for us while we re-gather and continue forward. Thank you to Rafael and crew at F8. Grattitude also goes to Marco Senghor and Bissap Baobab for all of the support with fundraisers and giving Chebiji and us a place to play. We had our first Underground Nomads shows at Bissap Baobab.
In addition to continued Tuesdays at Underground Nomads, which became his most recent home on the dancefloor, there are several music and dance event memorials planned to celebrate his life and music, including 1002 Nights on Nov. 21 at 1015 Folsom, A Morning Remembrance on Nov. 24 at Dolores Park (10:02am-3:33pm) and a belly dance event which will happen soon.
11/12/13 Tribute to Cheb i Sabbah. DJ Amar’s Dedication set (video begins with opening words by Gina Grandi and performance in Chebiji’s honor by FatChanceBellyDance – Note: camera does not show performances). DJ Amar’s set for Chebiji follows FCBD’s performance, joined by Shabi Farooq, as in the old days at Nickie’s.
Cheb i Sabbah and DJ Amar, Underground Nomads September, 2013.
(Cheb i Sabbah’s last DJ set at Underground Nomads).
Cheb i Sabbah’s 66th birthday party on August 6th, 2013. Dulce Vita and Cheb i Sabbah.
One Fantastic Ride of a Life: Dub Mission’s DJ Sep Remembers Cheb i Sabbah
SF Weekly: [After hearing the sad news that DJ Cheb i Sabbah passed away last week, we reached out to DJ Sep, producer/promoter and founder of Dub Mission, who was also a friend of Sabbah’s. She wrote back with this remembrance.]
On my computer is an 82-page “worksheet” document, an absurdly long to-do list. On page 11 is a reminder to send Cheb i this email:
So I discovered something interesting the other day…..”Cheb” means young. “Sabbah” means morning. “Cheb i Sabbah” means young of the morning. Sepideh [my full first name] means white, used to describe dawn, as in white of dawn….WE HAVE THE SAME NAME! 🙂
I never got the chance to send the email.
In the days, weeks, and months to come, many words will be written about Cheb i Sabbah and his remarkable contribution to world music. His massively influential, self-coined “outernational” style of mixing Asian, Arabic, and African music together in one set will be emphasized. His indelible mark as a pioneering promoter will be noted. Many will talk about his 1002 Nights, those uniquely memorable events that brought world-class musicians to the Bay Area, often for the first time. Many will mention his long-running Tuesday night dance party at Nickie’s. “He turned me on to so much music I’d never heard before.” We’ll continue to hear that over and over again. And it’s all true. His impact was global.
I always thought of him as a local DJ. It was a privilege to be able to think of him that way which made it even more fun.
By any standard Cheb i had one fantastic ride of a life. A Jewish Algerian kid moves to Paris as a teenager, discovers DJing, manages Don Cherry, delves deep into Hinduism, records an untold number of talented world musicians, releases seven cherished records…and that’s just his official biography.
“As both a DJ and a promoter, I have a massive amount of respect for Cheb i.” That was one my quotes from an article on him written by Billy Jam in 2011, a few months after he was diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer. It’s still true, but the memories that keep coming back now have to do with Cheb i the person, not DJ Cheb i Sabbah. The signature mix I keep remembering was the mixture of his opposing characteristics. Cheb i could be very gentle and generous, especially to the musicians he championed, or curt and withholding, refusing to tell a fan the name of the song he’d just played before shooing the guy out of the DJ booth.
It was his character, not just his music, that drew so many to him. It was rewarding, being in his company. I once spent more than four hours at his apartment, having one of the most memorable conversations I’ll ever have. I know my experience is not unique. And yet, he could be exasperating to work with, his insistence on doing things his way causing avoidable hassle and stress. My experience is definitely not unique there either.
His stubbornness could be funny too. Once when we were producing and DJing a show together, he was told by the owner of the venue that he wouldn’t be able to smoke during his set. Cheb i calmly informed the owner that it would be impossible for him to DJ without smoking, he’d never done it before. Needless to say his set that night was accompanied by his usual chain smoking, with one concession. Between puffs, he held his arm down instead of up.
Google “the measure of a man” and many variations come up. This one by Peter Nivio Zarlenga struck me: “The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune.” Perhaps Cheb i’s greatest misfortune came at the end when he faced a painful fatal illness. And here I find his most important and, hopefully, lasting influence on me. He faced mortality with grace and quiet determination continuing, stubbornly, to do what he loved until the end, death and smoking regulations be damned.
— DJ Sep / Dub Mission (For the SF Weekly)
From Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy: Namaste (Shalom, Peace) Selam Cheb i Sabbah
It is the hour of the Roses (Seher)….the time each day, that hour before dawn when it is said that those refined souls–Saints, Prophets and Masters–walk among us, the sweetest time to make one’s ablutions and to prostrate to the Creator. .. that I hear the news that my brother and noble friend Chebi Sabbah passed from here to there. Not a time of grieving, but one of celebration of what we call the Wedding Day of the Servant to his Lord. I had the privilege to visit Chebi at his home in SF some 10 days ago, where I delivered my small contribution toward his new work, and we enjoyed Sohbet or intimate conversation, respect, and Love. Chebi was ready for whatever was to come, not living in fear, no desperation. Indeed ever living in the moment only, playing us his new works fully alive and what’s more, serving us the sweetest chai and making us laugh into the small hours. We pray for his ever refining journey in the Lap of Compassion with his Lord, for strength to those loved ones that remain here , and we pray for Chebi ‘s very own Chidren and grandchildren, who are arrows shot ahead of him in tradition of service of Love, Light and carry his candle Faith onwards.
Allah Rahmet Eylesin Chebi, and see you one fine night.
Peter Murphy – Istanbul November 2013
His partner during the last few years of his life, Eloise, who was by his side and took care of Cheb i Sabbah from beginning of his struggle with cancer to his last days here, shares this message on his behalf: Please take a moment to recite mantra for Chebiji’s liberation, for world peace, for true happiness for all sentient beings. “OM MANI PADME HUM” … It was my honor to care for him, to share life and love together. He is forever with me, he is my angel. OM MANI PADME HUM!
Eloise is His angel, and is a permanent member of the Underground Nomads family. Blessings go out to Eloise, to the rest of Chebiji’s family – including his close friends who he considered family just the same – and to his extended family of supporters who stood by his side from near and far.
From Cheb i Sabbah’s family:
When dusk falls this evening, and the stars begin to swirl, our father is spinning for all the great ones who passed before him and were awaiting his arrival –
Cheb i Sabbah, musical adventurer, global spiritualist and producer extraordinaire has returned to the Indian subcontinent for Devotion, his seventh album on Six Degrees Records. Hundreds of artists in the world music genre, or for that matter any genre, have come and gone like bottle rockets, but Cheb i Sabbah’s light keeps burning and it is his bhakti (devotion) to the spiritual essence of music, and to truth and humanity, that is responsible for his longevity. Sabbah was nominated for the BBC’s 2006 Award for World Music in the Club Global category.