Thursday, February 18, 2010

Del Shannon In The Balkans

That's Del Shannon! With Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra!

There have been some very dark days in the global multi-cultural music racket. European stabs at mixing electronic production techniques with folk genres were, for many years, real earsores to anyone in spitting distance of a local cafe, or boutique hotel lobby. Waiting in line at your favourite Starbucks, anticipating starting your day with a nice venti and a wonderful scone, you were likely to be assaulted by a Gypsy Kings knockoff. And heading down to the cafe that, under close scrutiny, is actually just a front for International Development students honing their slam poetry skills? Manu Chao. Ick! (At their worst, you would be served by barista with dreadlocks and a scratchy scarf from an indigenous tribe in central America; at the best, a Pashmina Poetess who'll end up in law school). But there have been bright spots...

I went to a mixed-culture marriage during the height of the Balkan Wars in the 90's, as you can imagine, it was a pretty tense scene, especially after the bar opened up. And then, a couple of years ago, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with the break-up of the Yugoslavian republic. What remains is a desire to travel there, and a fondness for David Rieff and Balkan brass band music. That fondness for Balkan brass bands also contains within it a kernel of concern! A WHOLE KERNEL! And that concern is mostly that the cartoonish and delightful aspects of the genre aren't solely represented by Gogol Bordello, or TV Carnage bits with Slavs with weird body shapes wearing funny Communist-era nylon sweaters... So for any brass band members out there seeking, I propose that you and yours cover the above two Del Shannon songs, which in their structure and tempo would fit the brass band format, and give a little nod to middle America, or at least NPR.

Del Shannon, by the way, was awesome, not just a parent rock standard. Check out the above photo, with Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra!

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