Golden Festival 2011

Alternate title: How I Developed Tinnitus!

What Cheer? Brigade at Golden Fest 2011

Last night was The Golden Festival, sponsored by the Balkan band Zlatne Uste, which means “Golden Lips”.  It was held this year at the Grand Prospect Hall, an incredible Easter egg of a building with four floors of elegantly decorated and chandelier bedecked rooms complete with dance floors.  A big improvement over last year’s venue at the high school in Washington Heights, people were lined up and down the block to get in, dance, play and see old friends.  Who goes to Golden Fest? Everyone, young and old, fancy and casual, musicians and dancers, fans and volunteers.  The entire event is run by volunteers and for the cost of the ticket you also get middle eastern fare, deserts and midnight snacks.  Here is a photo of the Grand Ballroom where the What Cheer? Brigade is performing, and to see a video collage I shot on my eye-phone you can go here.

I found a well written article from Lucid Culture that explains the music of a few of these bands better than I could.  I woke up this morning with a certain throbbing in my ear drums.  Could it be the onslaught of tinnitus?  Note to self: remember not to dance in front to the tuba.

Violent Sentiments of Triumph

Kotorino at Barbes

I bought Mac’s Russian Red matte lipstick just before the show and Amy and I had red lips and black vintage dresses, though we didn’t look anything like a Robert Palmer video.  I had my violin and Amy had her claves.  The performance space at Barbes is small.  The stage is at once homey and welcoming and we managed to squeeze all nine members of Kotorino onto the stage after careful placement of stands and holding in of bellies.  We started our set with “Sky’s on Fire,” the only banjo tune for a nice segue from Emily Pinkerton‘s vibrant set of banjo and guitar accompanied Americana originals and Chilean influenced folk tunes.  The set continued and we were really feeling it – in a groove – the room was packed and we were getting good feedback from our friends in the audience and even from folks we didn’t know.  They got a kick out of Jeff’s lengthy instrument change in “Williamsburg Suit,” – that one always throws people.  They don’t know exactly what to think, so they shift uncomfortably in their seats, some laugh, some clap and they are unanimously relieved when Jeff finally resolves the VII chord with the frantic guitar strum that finally ends the uneasiness.  The show ended strong with the last tune “Into the Sky” in which Jeff sings about his devotion to Jesus and the rest of us sing angelic “oooohs” in the background which contrasts with the punchy accordion, horn and violin quarter notes and the violent sentiment of triumph at the end of the song.  Kotorino has certainly triumphed!  The band is entering its third year, about to release it’s first full length CD and continuing to entertain local fans with a different element added for fun on every show.