By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
”The real sound is lost,“ says Harout. ”If you‘re going to do something Armenian, do it right. Our music and poetry are so rich; there are songs written hundreds of years ago that are still untouched. Go and find them, take them and make them your own.“
There are always exceptions, though. Among Harout’s favorites is an up-and-coming singer by the name of Nune, who‘s doing the modern thing and still keeping the tradition alive. But he’s most fond of Rouben Hakhverdian, a ”real troubadour“ who has a wonderfully biting way of spouting Dylanesque ramblings like they‘re the Gospel. His collaboration with Harout on the 1996 almost all-acoustic Yerke Nayev Aghotk Eh (Songs Are Also Prayers) is somber, intimate and filled with the kind of dirt-under-the-fingernails grit one must listen to, not dance to. Just two men with their guitars.
Harout has no family left in Armenia. He lives comfortably in North Hollywood with his son, Isay, and his wife, Rose, who does all the backup vocals on his records. But the lifetime of gratitude Harout feels he owes to that country the size of Maryland always humbles him.
Now an independent republic, Armenia and its people have in recent years been reborn, somewhat. But there’s still no profitable market for music there. ”After more than 70 years of communism,“ he says, ”and all of a sudden you become independent -- it‘s very difficult. And it’s going to take time for all the redevelopment that people keep talking about.“
He‘s optimistic, though. ”We’re a people who have seen so many difficult times. But unlike some of those other ancient civilizations, we‘re still here. We may be small, but at least we have schools, a religion, a country to go back to. I see our time here as temporary, really. One day, we’re all going back.“
Harout Pamboukjian‘s music can be found at all the Armenian music stores in the greater L.A. area, or visit www.parseghian records.com. Currently, he’s working on his 23rd album and gearing up for an October show at the Alex Theater in Glendale. Coming soon to a wedding or baptism near you.