Monday, September 29, 2008

The later the post, the less to boast

Last week got the best of me and I didn't get a chance to post. I had Benji Hughes and his uncanny resemblances to Harry Nilsson rolling around in my head all week. After The Professor beat me to the punch on Benji, then I thought I'd offer up my staff photos from the Nordic Roots Festival this past weekend. With Mama E Dub feeling under the weather, I'll add some visuals until she recovers...

A storm was a-brewin'

Our office assistant intern Matt prepares raffle tickets for the Festival and ponders the meaning of the words Hoven Droven and Hurdy Gurdy.

Mark & Drew sport some serious guitar shirts.

This was the first year that I thought of the Festival in terms of fashion.

Click on the pic to see Detektivbyrån live on Twin Cities Public Television
(and fast forward to the credits for a bonus tune)

Martin of Detektivbyrån, leanin' on Sweden.

William Call having a ball with the Detektivbyrån boys.

Mark tests the new Cedar floors for slippage.

The big ol' Cedar family playin' catch with Gil.

Anders of Detektivbyrån, shopping for Fire Department edition Converse.

It's a bag AND a functioning iPod boombox!
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach...

Jonah and Rob Simonds, basking in the remaining Nordic light.

Intermission bonus, a dance on the floor!

And then...
Hoven Droven brings the audience to it's knees!!

Michael and Cedar superfan Billy let their hair down at Hoven Droven.

Post Festival fiddle jam in the green room with Annbjørg Lien, Mats Edén (Groupa), Kjell-Erik Eriksson (Hoven Droven), and Bruce Molsky.

Mark demonstrates how Stefan plays the hurdy gurdy.

Goodnight, Nordic Roots. 'til next time.


Benji Hughes is Harry Nilsson reincarnated.

Download mp3 of Benji Hughes single "Tight Tee Shirt"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not always so Nordic

Well, hurdy heads, you'll have to wait a few weeks for my "next generation of rockin' hurdy gurdy" piece because some of the musicians I wanted to interview are on tour and or traveling right now. One of them was roadtripping from Poland to Germany to see Hedningarna. SEE! I knew there was a link!

Since it is just a few days until Nordic Roots 10 begins, I would take this opportunity to let my mind drift back, back along the paths of Nordic Roots Fests of yore. As I have been Drottningen av Gästfrihet (that's "Queen of Hospitality" to you, Jack) for a number of years now, I sometimes catch glimpses of things the larger audience does not. Little details to savor, like a smooth piece of beach glass in the palm of your hand.

Like Mari Boine standing utterly alone in front of a full length mirror, swirling her red cape about herself. So contained, so dignified.

Or Hoven Droven giggling with glee as they planned the acoustic bluegrass tune they would play on borrowed mandolins and banjos after Nick introduced them as the world's loudest Nordic band. You gotta know that just made (bass player) Pedro's day as he really is in a bluegrass band back home in Sweden. Of course they DID blow the speakers later that night once they were back at their amplified instruments.

There are of course, some members of Hoven Droven, who are active in the KISS fan club in their spare time back home in Sweden...

We had a question about the three finger salute after last week's post so I'll be sure to get to that today, OK? So you know how metal fans "fly the horns" to show they are really rockin' out? Folk music fans can put up the three finger salute, because a lot of traditional music, say a polska for example, is in 3. Or as Pedro Blomberg, Hoven Droven's bass player told me after Turbo came out , it means "Love , peace and three beats."

And I know "what happens in the Green Room stays in the Green Room", but there was that time at an afterparty when ...oh never mind.

Funny how some of my most precious NRF memories don't star any of our Scandinvian pals at all; they feature American old time fiddler Bruce Molsky. One time a young Norwegian folk-metal band named Gåte was here opening for Hoven Droven. They were loud and rocked and other than giving me a hard time about our political system after the show, I thought a lot of fun. So Bruce had been at the festival that weekend, playing with Ellika Frisell and Solo Cissoko (see video below of those two) He was persuaded to pull out his fiddle afterwards in the green room. You shoulda seen the metal guys! They loved it! The bass player was trying to keep time and clap along and Bruce just said "Man, you're slowing me down!". Everybody lost it, and cheered like crazy when he finished the tune.

Another year it seemed like every famous Scandinavian fiddler in the world was here at the Cedar that weekend and Bruce had come up to jam with Ellika during her set.
All the fiddlers wanted to jam after the concerts, so they went over to one of the bars at Seven Corners and took over the whole upstairs. After the bar closed, everybody straggled over to the hotel lobby across the
street and just sat on their instrument cases, rather at a loss. Once again, Bruce was persuaded to pull out his fiddle and he played us some sweet slow tunes to send everybody off for the night. Then he set down his fiddle and did "Man of Constant Sorrow" as a field holler. If there is a man who can make a field holler sound holy, in a sterile hotel lobby at 3 in the morning, Bruce Molsky is that man.

Not mention, that he is probably the only Appalachian old-time fiddler who can do the "ultimate dueling fiddles" trick with Hoven Droven's Kjel-Erik Erikson!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Local Music Implosion: The Silver City

I wouldn’t say I love all music that comes out of the Twin Cities, but I love a lot of it. And even if there is something I don’t like, I try to keep track of it, and tend to cheer it on anyway.

In this case, I caught Jeremy Messersmith one night at the Cedar and he’s been on the radar ever since. I liked his lo-fi sound and some of his lyrics were pretty clever. His first album, The Alcatraz Kid, demonstrates both of these qualities pretty well.

Messersmith’s new album, The Silver City, certainly includes pieces cut from the same cloth but (to continue with the upholstery metaphor) covers something pretty different.

To begin with local music darling Dan Wilson produced The Silver City. Apropos, as the beginning of Messersmith’s “Love You To Pieces” sounds so similar to [Dan Wilson’s former group] Semisonic’s “In Another Life,” that I actually found myself singing the words of one to the music of the other.

Wilson has some serious pop sensibilities, a fact he has proven time and again with his production work [Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way and Mike Doughty’s Haughty Melodic and Golden Delicious, just to name a few].

But on The Silver City, the pop is a little too perfect. The sound is full, the tunes are catchy, and Messersmith’s voice is clear and calm. Much of Messersmith’s slightly dark material [see Novocain or Scientists on The Alcatraz Kid] is gone. Maybe Messersmith just got happy. Ho hum. But thankfully, I am a resident of the fine city alluded to on a number of tracks on the record.

In addition to Wilson’s production, The Silver City’s Twin Cities tributes include a cover of The Replacements’ “Skyway,” and Messersmith’s tunes “Franklin Avenue,” and “Light Rail,” the latter of which is despicably catchy.

So if you’re looking for something new and different or something complex, a “think piece” if you will, this probably isn’t the album for you. But if you’re a Minneapolitan (Or St. Paulitan? Is that what they’re called?) that is looking for a fun, catchy, disc to bring on a picnic or to play in your car on a sunny autumn day, then you might want to give The Silver City a try.

You can listen to selections from The Silver City here

I wanted to include a sample of the Semisonic song, but YouTube only gave me 12 pages of “how to play Closing Time” videos, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurdy Heads, Start Cranking!

The days are cool and the nights are frosty, the overpowering scent of tomatoes being canned is wafting from my kitchen, football has begun, and soon it will be time for another autumn tradition, Nordic Roots Fest. (OK, I know it used to be in the spring, but it's a fall thing now, yeah?)

There have, of course, been numerous NRF shows over the years that have totally blown my head off, and several of the festival appearances of the Hurdy Gurdy Project have to rank right up there. While there are many aspects of Nordic roots music that I love; the minor keys, the many distortions of the simple polska rhythm, it's really all about the drone. Whether from sympathetic strings vibrating, jawharps singing or a sakpipa(little bagpipes to you) wailing, the drones are what go straight to my brain. In my humble opinion, the hurdy gurdy is about as close as Nordic roots music gets to psychedelia. Not bad for a 1000 year old instrument!

Just to get you in the mood, look what I found in the archives. Totte and Stephan crank up some "Luder Anders / Skuren" in this little video from Nordic Roots Fest 2005.

Here' s a longer and slightly higher quality( made on my digital camera, OK?) video in which Totte joins Stephan and the rest of Garmarna in tearing up "Klevabergselden", an old instrumental from the Vittrad days. ("Kleveberg's Fire" - I don't know who or what Kleveberg is or was, but something's burning down here!) This is also from Nordic Roots 2005.

To find out about Stephan and Totte's hurdy gurdy history, the piece on their MySpace is actually pretty nice. It has probably been quoted on the Cedar website at various times,too. Here is a little video of Stephan playing an undoctored version of "Delirium" on the Pure Drop website. They have a bunch of interesting short videos of world and folk music performers. I guess I do like the amped and dubbed version.

But what is a hurdy gurdy? How do they work? Here are your factiods for the week about the "medieval synthesizer" or "ancient beatbox." (Remember that band from the '90's, some good techno-hurdy playing there.)

It's basically a fiddle that is bowed by the wheel as the player cranks. Some of the strings are stopped by the keys just as you do with fingers on the neck of a traditional stringed instrument. Several of the strings are usually just resonating sympathetically, giving that drone sound we all love so much. Often there are 4 strings but the number can vary. There are various little bits and pieces inside the player can adjust to alter the vibrations and sound as well as just cranking faster or slower. A helpful volunteer with whom I was working at the Cedar the other night used to work for a luthier and he explained some of the hurdy's inner workings to me, as they got them in for repair once in a while. Thanks, Jeffrey!

Here you can see the wheel and the keys fairly well. For more info on the inner workings and the history of the instrument, check here. I found the following description interesting, as well.
The body of the instrument can be box-shaped or with a rounded back like a lute, and many examples are beautifully decorated with inlaid wood. The handle turns a wheel covered in rosin, which vibrates the strings; the hurdy-gurdy functions like a violin with an endless bow, so that there is no pause in the sound at the end of a bow stroke. Instead of sounding notes using the fingers, the musician presses sliding, un-sprung keys which make contact with the strings and shorten them to make a sound of the required pitch. The drone comes from one or more strings which do not get pressed by the keys, and therefore sound the same notes continuously. The final part of the puzzle is the moveable bridge, or chien (French for dog), which supports one of the drone strings and can be manipulated by a skilled player so that it vibrates against the body of the hurdy-gurdy during playing, making a rhythmic buzzing noise. The whole ensemble has a driving, continuous sound, with its own percussion produced by the chien .

OK, everybody ready to start crankin?

Let's send this photo out the boys in Hoven Droven, who will lead us all on a merry chase Sunday night to close down Nordic Roots Fest 10. Turbo, yeah! And fly a big three finger folk music salute to my neighbor's Farm All H Turbo. (That's a tractor, city folks.)

Just hope I don't feel like this the following morning....

Back at you next week with info about the next generation of hurdy heads in European turbo-folk and pagan metal.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Cedar Fantasy

This week Dave told me that he had a dream that Mark was introducing a band on The Cedar stage as he usually does, but he was mumbling and unintelligible. Then I got up on stage, pushed Mark aside and introduced Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings!, and the crowd went wild.

Next I pulled out my GIANT bass flute which I was completely jamming on and that Sharon had to assist me in holding up.

Dave was screaming and shouting and totally grooving. Sharon and I were amazing.

For the next tune I grabbed a sousaphone
and had a jam with another sousaphone player which was doubly awesome. Then Dave's son woke him up.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Wednesday night I brought my friend Matt to the Plastic People of the Universe show at The Cedar. Besides commenting on their facial hair, he also added,

“You always bring me to see stuff I never would otherwise.”

I have endless examples of dragging this friend to see that show. But oftentimes I'm lucky and they end up enjoying themselves after all.

Being a big B.R.M.C. fan, I begged a few friends and family members to see them with me at the late Quest Club about four years ago. No one (except for me) really liked them. But The Rapture opened and everyone lost it. I still haven’t heard the end of it. You can probably imagine why.

Since then music has become, more and more, a communal thing for me. I like trading recommendations and going to shows with people, and I have more than a few friends that I probably have nothing else in common with. But we’ll talk for hours about lyrics or style or sound.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Take the Baba Zula quiz!

To get everybody warmed up for Baba Zula, playing at the Cedar Sunday, September 21, let's start with a little quiz.

1. On which side of the Bosporus is Istanbul located?
A. East side
B. West side
C. What's the Bosporus?

OK, as you can see, Istanbul is located on the west side of the the Bosporus, the strait that flows between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. There has been an major trading center there for millenia, known at various times as Constantinople and Byzantium. While currently one of the world's largest cities, it is not, as recently stated by a member of the U.S. government, the capital of Turkey. (That's Ankara.)

The west side of of the straits is a region known historically as Thrace, which borders on Greece and Bulgaria. (It also happens to be the name of my favorite Battlestar Galactica character, Capt. Kara Thrace. Frak yeah, Starbuck! ) The east side is Anatolia or Asia Minor.

So where East meets West, Asia meets Europe and, one could say, where North meets South, (Hey, the other side of the Black Sea is Ukraine and Russia and to the southwest is the Holy Land, OK?) we find Istanbul, home of Baba Zula.

Not to get too sidetracked, but I would take a moment here to recommend two books set in Istanbul, just to give you a feel for things. Istanbul:Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk really gives a sense of an Istanbul that has mostly now vanished, but was still very old world in the 1950s. Jason Goodwin's The Janissary Tree is actually a historical mystery, set in 1830's Istanbul. Lots of great characters from transvestite dancers to the gals in the harem. Goodwin's nonfiction writing on the Ottoman Empire is interesting, too.

OK, back to the Baba Zula quiz.
2. What is a saz?
A. a chordophone and member of the long necked Lute family.
B. Wow, where'd you learn to type? A large shiny reed instrument popular in jazz, marching bands and Bulgarian Wedding music.
C. When you talk back to yo mama.

Yep, the electric saz is the main melody instrument you'll here at the Baba Zula show. Its general shape is similar to the Bouzouki and Oud. Played by Murat Ertel, they look a little like this. Here's some more info about the instrument. [I learned to type at Peet Jr. High in Cedar Falls, Iowa. What about it?]

3. Who is the Mad Professor?
A. Dr. Bergin when students don't do the readings before lecture
B. Jerry Lewis in a kid's movie from the '70s (or '60s? Hmm.)
C. A London-based dub maestro and remix artist who worked with Baba Zula

Given name of Neil Fraser, The Mad Professor has been producing and remixing and making some mighty dub in London since the early '80s. Here's a link to a story on his early years. He worked on the Baba Zula releases Duble Oryantal and Psychebelly Dance Music.

The album with which I'm most familiar is Kokler ("Roots") a stripped down disc with lots of improvisation and (I think) recorded on analog. (Or at least they were going for an analog sound according to interviews.) They didn't invite their usual bunch of guests along for this one, so maybe it's more like the live sound? This disc has a few nice dub tracks produced by Japanese producer Naoyuki Uchida, who seems to have the same name as several scientists. (See where Google can lead you?) Here's a bit from an interesting interview about the album that's on their website.

We also wanted to take advantage of recording techniques from the ‘50s and ‘60s in which they recorded in smaller studios and used acoustic technology. In addition, we wanted to get even further back to the roots of Turkish music on the album by using more indigenous Turkish instrumentation. We’re unhappy with the idea of globalization in which corporations want everyone to think about the same things, eat and drink the same things, and listen to the same music worldwide. Their strategy is to cut people off from their roots. So, we went in the opposite direction and tried to connect more with our roots. The album does have a mix of styles though given that we included a few dub mixes at the end of it by a DJ friend of ours from Japan named Naoyuki Uchida. He has a different sound from Mad Professor who we used on previous albums. Naoyuki takes a more minimalist and Eastern approach.
A bit more Baba Zula trivia so you can stand around and act like an old timer at the concert.

What does the name mean?

For Native Americans, it means “great big secret,” similar to “Wakan Tanka” in Dakota mythology. In Turkish, Baba refers to “father” or “big thing” and Zula is similar to “secret,” so it also loosely means the same thing.

Baba Zula was featured in 2005 Fatih Akin's film on Turkish music "Crossing the Bridge:The Sound of Istanbul". You can find several YouTube videos from this. Akin's 2007 film "The Edge of Heaven"won the Best Screeenplay at Cannes. I caught at the Mpls/St. Paul International Film Fest this past spring and would very much recommend it. It's the kind of film that you keep thinking about for months afterward.

Here's just one Baba Zula video for you, because there are a bunch on the Cedar website already. Watch what happens to the cow!

I would say that freaky colorful outfits and/ or fezes (what is the plural of fez? Does it have one?) would definitely be in order, especially since the Cedar will not be providing the big floor pillows, hip scarves or huka pipes that Baba Zula's sound might seem to require. Word on the street has it that the local belly dance community is alerted to this show and planning to turn out.

OK, just one more video because here they are playing with my man, Burhan Ocal and the Trakya All-Stars.

("Trakya" is Turkish for Thrace. See, all this knowledge is useful, eh?) And in case you missed them in my first podcast, let's just put up the link to the sweaty guys singing along with Burhan one more time!

To close it up, Baba Zula is on the very cool Instanbul-based record label DoubleMoon. They do other artist such as oud guyMercan Dedan, the aformentioned Burhan Ocal and the Trakya All-Stars, DJ Smadj, clarinet god Selim Sesler and Taksim Trio. WOMEX recently named them among the top 10 World Music labels.

Until next week then , when I'll bring you the pre-Nordic Roots Hurdy Gurdy edition!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Squeezebox

Accordion. Why does it encourage dancing for some, and cringing for others? There's something kinda silly about the instrument, that you play it by squeezing it and pulling it, sort of like doing "the wave" or a swim stroke. Or maybe just having a stroke. Is the association with polka music too strong to ignore, like dancing in a round with your aunts to “In Heaven There Is No Beer”? Like it or loathe it, it's a keyed up force to be reckoned with.

A U.S. accordionist with Gold and Platinum selling albums from the 80s, 90s and 00s? Really?? Yes. Weird Al Yankovic.

I have many memories of accordion fever at The Cedar. From the Argentinean flourishes of Chango Spasiuk to the Nordic wailing of Maria Kalaniemi to the Jewish Klezmer of The Klezmatics to Orkestar Bez Ime, Brave Combo, and the countless Cajun bands that have heated up many cold winters in our hall. And last year we hosted the 3-day NE Accordion Festival, featuring workshops and a ton of performances.

Not just one of my favorite accordion bands, but one of the more eclectic Twin Cities groups, is fronted by Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton, the Café Accordion Orchestra. Incorporating movie scores from Amelie, Pulp Fiction, and Marx Brothers films, tunes from France, Argentina, Finland, and Brazil, and back round to 1930s/40s jazz and swing. Audio sample of "Accordion Joe"

Today on my way to lunch at Hard Times Cafe I saw this posted on the wall just outside:

Just this past weekend The Sweet Colleens, who are sweet but Colleen-less, played a rousing opening set, but managed to leave behind their accordion. Somebody asked, “Shall we just throw it out and do the world a favor?” The squeezebox just don’t get no respect!

Amongst all of the highlights of this season’s hot newcomers and jaw dropping legends, I’m looking forward to this year’s Nordic Roots Festival for the latest offering from a young group from Sweden making their first appearance in the U.S., Detektivbyrån. A trio that mixes accordion with glockenspiel, drums and electronics. Sort of the 21st century version of gypsy jazz.

Not to be missed!
-Mr. William Call

Detektivbyrån Video:

Somethin’ extra: The Irish punk of The Pogues, featuring James Fearnley on accordion, from 1985...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Music and Politics

Last night, The Cedar celebrated the first night of its 20th season. The Orange Mighty Trio and Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles provided musical entertainment, while local storyteller Kevin Kling kept the audience laughing between sets. Both of these musical groups have impressed me before, but Kevin Kling was a delightful surprise and is now a new favorite. Though I enjoyed Lucy’s quirky cuteness and the Orange Mighty Trio’s mix of jazz, classical and pop sensibilities as much as ever, I was struck by the sincerity of Kling’s stories. I could not my any means choose a favorite story. They were all tragically real and human and terribly funny. However, one thing he said stuck with me.

“I know there is something else going on in St. Paul tonight, but I think you all made a wise choice.”

He was, of course, referring to the Republican National Convention.

While his comment was met with a cascade of cheers and laughter, I couldn’t help but think there might be someone who felt alienated by that comment.

But really, that’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg. Performance art, particularly music, and politics have always had a tumultuous relationship. The ‘60s and ‘70s should be evidence enough, but there are many more recent examples too.

The Dixie Chicks’ comments on President George W. Bush while abroad, led to their being banned from certain U.S. radio stations and sworn off by many fans. The event also led to a documentary, and an album on which the Chicks defended their actions. This album, it so happens, was produced by our very own Dan Wilson (of Semisonic fame), and in my opinion is one of their best.

Another recent example would be the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Freedom of Speech Tour.” While the title of the tour should have tipped fans off, it clearly didn’t, as shown in the documentary “CSNY: Déjà vu.” The film has what seems like endless footage of disgruntled fans leaving concerts early, enraged that Neil Young would talk about politics. The general consensus seemed to be, “I came to hear their music, not their politics.”

All of this begs the question: Should musicians be allowed to voice their political opinions on stage?

Or should audience members expect to hear from their favorite performers as people as well as entertainers?

What about all these performances associated with the political conventions?

There are professions that encourage people not to discuss their political views like being in the navy or schoolteachers. But is that justification, or does that lead to more questions about freedom of speech?

It seems strange to expect performers to suspend their beliefs while they entertain us. But apparently, that is what many of us expect.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hey Cyber Boy, LIfe is a High Speed Joy: The Simple Pleasure of Little Cow

I'm a little past getting excited when I hear that such and such a band is the biggest thing in their home country because, well, working at the Cedar all these years, I've heard it before and sometimes it just makes one wonder about the state of the music in that home country. But believe the Little Cow hype as in "the best Hungarian export since goulash" etc, etc. These guys are fun and September 11 is going to be a party, provided enough people find out about this show.

[Just in case, here is some history and recipes for Hungarian Goulash..hey, why not?]

Just put all your preconceived notions about Balkan music or gypsy music or E
astern Euro music aside. Little Cow is not Balkan Beat Box, they are not Gogol Bordello, or Devotchka or Beruit or any of the other American "Balkan" bands. (Yeah, yeah, I know BBB is from Israel and Eugene Hutz is from Ukraine, etc. But they are American bands now, yeah?)

Little Cow doesn't have the dancing girls, (not that I don't enjoy dancing girls as much as the next person...) or the cabaret style onstage hijinks, they are not pals with Johnny Depp. No hipster attitude or Clockwork Orange namechecking. (I mean, they're named after a cartoon and the band got started writing music to accompany said cartoon. Not exactly hipster material...)

What they do have is "
a truly wonderful and infectious mix of Hungarian and English lyrics wrapped in Gypsy-tinged ska-funk pop songs," according to the Songlines magazine, published by the folks who put out those Rough Guides to various world music. They are just a bunch of regular guys from Budapest with their guitars and accordians and horns who are playing fun tunes, some of which could be described as Balkan or gypsy or Eastern ska, but many of which you would simply call pop, while you sing along in a language that you really don't know.Hooks, choruses, all that poppy stuff. But I don't really like pop music, you say. Me neither, but trust me on this one. Who else who write a sexy waltz about eating chocolate?("Chocky is Melting") Or a catchy tune about somebody stealing your coat (Feri Took My Blazer") C'mon, who knows some Hungarian out there? Anybody? Here's the Hungarian website for ya. For the rest of us, "welcome" is "isten hozott! " The only Hungarian word I know is "rege", pronounced like reggae, which means tale or story.

Here is a video for "I'm in Love with Every Lady" but this must be the Hungarian version because the chorus is not in English like on the album.

I would totally go to that party. (But what are they doing with that outhouse in the beginning?)

I'm not sure what I think of the actual "Little Yellow Cow" videos. My three year old was cracking up. There are some weird slightly psychedelic elements to some of them. Like what is going on here? Looks like they used some of the tamer ones for the Pepsi commercials for the Sziget Festival a few years back.

Little Cow is the opposite of hype, of glitz , of hipster cool. They are named after a little yellow cow character, fer cryin' out loud. One of their videos , "If I Ever" is a simple film of little kids at school lip synching to the not cool. If you told me about this video, I would normally gag...I hate that kids singing stuff. And I have a kid! Once again, however, there is something rather charming going on here. It reminds me somehow of that French film about the one room school from a few years back, To Be and To Have. Check out the kid with the bow tie, anyway.

Or here's a black and white vid they made together with the band Romano Drom. It does really make me want to go there, but it's not super slick, is it? If you look up their videos in English, they have only a couple hundred or thousand hits. But if you check them in Hungarian, they have hundred of thousands of views. These guys are big back home; the Cyber Boy ringtone broke some kind of record there in 2006. ( You can watch that video at, so I won't put it here, OK?)

As quoted above, Songlines magazine picked "I'm in Love with Every Lady" as one of their top ten new releases last June. Scroll down on this link to their review. Or how about this one from a promo for their upcoming show at Joe's Pub in New York "Little Cow is a wonderful mix of joy and melancholy, humour and lyricism. Gypsy-tinged ska/rock/funk pop songs performed by charismatic musicians. Little Cow creates real party music that makes your feet move and keeps your mind at work."

Come for the music, stay for the party. Learn a little Hungarian, or if not, hey it's world pop music. You'll get pretty far with La la la la la...and you will be singing and dancing along.

* * * * *

If you're a fan of the Eastern music, Little Cow album was released by the mighty East Blok records, of the amazing BalkanBeats collections. I get their web update and follow some of their other bands. Wish they would send me a free t shirt! Really, I'll promote your stuff!!

* * * * *

For fans of all things Eastern, I just have to do a shout out here to the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. If you live around these parts, you need to get yourself down there before September 14 to the the "Lost Empire" exhibit. It's color photos from circa 1915, just prior to the Russian Revolution. But what color! The world of the giant Russian Empire was not a black and white black almost 100 years ago. I very much recommend this exhibit and it's only $5 admission. Here is link to a nice blog posting a friend of mine wrote about the exhibit.

Back again next week with things you never knew about Baba Zula!