Hot Tamale Louie: The Story of Zarif Khan Told with Music

This event is part of the Co-Sponsorships Program: Hot Tamale Louie performance.
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 7:30pm
Event Location: 
Voxman Music Building
Concert Hall
93 E. Burlington St.
Iowa City, IA 52240

A genre-bending tale with lilting Western ballads, gentle Mexican waltzes, folk songs and melodies from the East, evocative tone poems, and raucous ragtime melded together by jazz. FREE AND OPEN TO ALL.

A story about LEAVING HOME,
of TRAVEL and wandering the WEST.
A story of FORTUNES won and lost,
A story of LOVE late in life
and a dastardly MURDER!

With cowboys and Indians, landowners and congressmen,
society ladies and prostitutes, school children and old folks,
Afghanis, Mexicans, Chinese, Czechs, and Poles,
and special appearances by the famous
Buffalo Bill Cody and Medicine Joe Crow.

You will laugh, you will cry,
you will fret, you will sigh.


Created and performed by:

  • John Rapson — piano
  • Special guest artist, Iowa City’s legendary singer/songwriter Dave Moore — voice, slide guitar, accordion, harmonica
  • And introducing singer/songwriter Daniel Gaglione (an immigrant from France, now living in Iowa City) — voice, North African mandole

With UI alumni:

  • Ryan Smith — alto and soprano saxophones, flute, clarinet
  • Tara Dutcher — violin
  • Dan Padley — guitars
  • Blake Shaw — doublebass
  • Justin LeDuc — drums, percussion

Cameo monologues written by Scott Bradley

Performed by UI Theatre Department faculty member Paul Kalina

Telegraph Operator: Steve Locher

Based on the article “American Chronicles: Citizen Khan” by Kathryn Schulz in the June 6/13, 2016 issue of The New Yorker and used with permission.


An Afghani child of 12 leaves his home near the Khyber Pass, wandering India for years before boarding a boat in Bombay and landing in Seattle. After exploring the American West, he settles in Sheridan, Wyoming, and takes over a business selling tamales. He works 80 hours a week, becomes famous for his food, and eventually learns how to invest in the U.S. stock market. As he gains and loses fortunes, he nonetheless lives frugally, choosing to spend his money in acts of kindness and generosity. He gains citizenship in 1925, has it revoked by U.S. xenophobic laws, and regains it again 30 years later. He becomes a legend, both back home in the borderland between Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Wyoming. He has an arranged marriage late in life and sires six children before abruptly and tragically being murdered in his 80s. His children and their offspring have recently founded a mosque in Gillette, Wyoming, that has drawn the ire of some eastern Wyoming residents and received national media attention.

This event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the UI School of Music and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies