So A Lebanese And A Texan Walk Into A Bar…

POOF! Starnes&Shah was born. Well not quite, but it’s not often you come across a duo with members from opposite ends of the Earth. Starnes&Shah is made up of Dania Abu-Shaheen and Zilpha Starnes, who met in college almost seven years ago and have been recording and touring since. The duo has produced one EP and three full length records with a fourth, Shilling for Dreamtown, due out this summer. Abu-Shaheen started singing at a young age when she moved from playing drums to bass and as she puts it, “was really into Pearl Jam and wanted to be Jeff Ament.” That statement earns her a badass sticker in my book. After realizing that playing bass can only get you so far in song writing she decided to take on guitar, which she now plays in the group. Starnes actually started singing with Abu-Shaheen and later moved to playing keyboard and synthesizer.

Photo credit to

Photo credit to

Starnes&Shah are the definition of an indie rock band, and “independent music is the way to go.” They do all of the social networking and design work themselves but find that though it’s a lot of hard work, having the ability to write music freely is the best payoff they could ask for. It’s a chance for them to put their type-A personalities on the backburner and really get into that creative mode.

Dem vocals

When listening to Starnes&Shah, the vocals stand out the most. With strong, dynamic voices the two are able to write their music in such a way that, while the vocals could take care of themselves, the instrumentation really compliments that and brings the band’s sound to full circle.

In regards to playing their 100th show this Saturday at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn Abu-Shaheen claims, “I feel old!”

She elaborates that when they started out, the girls just wanted to sing for fun but now they would love to turn their focus more towards music rather than the 9-5 life. They are also hoping the 200th show, which they both agree should take place at the Wilbur Theater in Boston (opening for Neko Case, obviously), will come much faster.

Dat new record

Shilling for Dreamtown is about really promoting this idea of living the dream. Do we work so hard to live the dream that we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s something better than it really is? Is being a shill “transactional or genuine, are you just lying to yourself?” Deep thoughts for such an upbeat and engaging band. The single, 24 Million (download it here) is just one of the on their new album, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for this album as a whole. Luckily, we’ll get a preview of it at the Knitting Factory show this Saturday! In the meantime, check out their Red Brick Tide on iTunes.

Why you should see them live

“We always have audience members that are shocked about how much fun they have,” the ladies explain.

The two really work hard to not only produce kick-ass music but also put on an entertaining show. They are committed to engaging the audience so they can be a part of the experience. In the past, this has meant home-baked cookies and even a popcorn machine. Did I mention home baked cookies? But seriously, Starnes&Shah maintain that “we weren’t cut out to be that cool band so we’re totally geeky,” and often half the audience is dancing with them on stage by the end of the set. The only way you can get that experience is to show the hell up.

WHEN: Saturday, February 2, Doors 6:30 PM, show 7 PM

WHERE: Knitting Factory, 3610 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn

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