This past weekend, singer songwriter Ammar Farooki brought his gift of song to Stage 2 of NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall. And like his other recent shows, including his sold-out gig at The Bitter End, he was joined on stage by a few guest musicians who lent their own music stylings to his ever-growing catalog of songs.
Farooki has quickly become a regular on the NYC music scene ever since he moved to Brooklyn in 2019, around the same time he released his first EP Songs from the Cave. Born and raised in Pakistan, he listened to a mix of local music as well as US based rock artists such as Dylan and Springsteen growing up. Those early influences as well as 90’s grunge/alt-rock favorites Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Radiohead led the once business minded banker to put down the suit and tie and pick up his guitar and pursue his true passion—music.
When I first started seeing Farooki play, he would mainly do a solo acoustic set. His then girlfriend and now wife, Diane Desobeau, would join him for a few numbers on either piano or harmonium but it was mainly Farooki front and center. By 2022, once live gigs started up again, he introduced both a new arsenal of songs he’d been working on as well as a full band that really helped flesh out the material and allow him to grow as a performer.
Saturday night’s show found Farooki and Desobeau joined by drummer Bryce Collins along with guest spots by Ed Jones on guitar and recent collaborator Dudley on sax and flute. While he’s had other guitarists join in before, including Chris Scianni of Tangiers Blues Band (and countless other acts), the inclusion of sax and flute brought new flavors to songs like “Blindman,” “Losing My Mind,” and “Silence.” Other highlights included opener “Wanderer,” Beatles cover “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “Storm” and my personal favorite “C’est la vie.”
This year will see Farooki releasing a number of planned singles with a full album possibly by year’s end. In fact, with the amount of material he’s written, he’s planning out two full albums, the first of which will be a more rock oriented album and the second a more personal, autobiographical collection of songs. And of course there will be many shows along the way—make sure to catch him live to see and hear what he’s been up to.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)