I’ve had a busy week, so it’s been hard for me to find things to post about. (Unlike the big boy bloggers, no one ever sends me tips—hint, hint.)
(I should mention here that it was the outstanding Gavin Tabone Quartet that got me out to the Whip In last night in the first place. But I had to work late and only caught the end of their set on the outdoor stage, which is about when Vana Mazi got cranking indoors.)
Vana Mazi’s lineup of tuba, accordion, acoustic guitar and combo drumkit immediately got my attention. I mean, you don’t see that instrumentation every day. At least I don’t.
What got my attention even more was the wonderful eastern European/Balkan sounds these folks threw down.
Vocally, Vana Mazi seems to hew to an English-never policy. Guitarist and lead vocalist Ian J. Everett not only has a really strong and appealing voice, dude has outstanding diction and authentic-sounding accents in several languages I do not speak.
Their repetoire consists of songs that Everett collected during extensive travels fueled in part by a passion to learn music from other cultures.
Aces accordionist Amanda Kitchens adds strong harmony vocals, and is a captivating frontline presence.
Let’s also note that while everyone in the band has mad skilz, drummer Tim Maher is just absolutely sick. Dude is ill in the best possible sense. You don’t find a drummer who can nail those crazy Balkan meters just anywhere. All in all, it’s pretty special that these people found each other.
I couldn’t wait to download Vana Mazi’s latest album, Flux, which I am listening to as I write this. And it sounds terrific. I could and probably will listen to it all day.
Watch this video of them playing in a teepee. Then go check ‘em out. They sound great, they look great, and they know how to keep the party going. (Another thing Grandpa Oblogatory really appreciated was that their Whip In gig was at a reasonable time and a comfortable volume.)
CORRECTION: The original version of this post stated that Kitchens accompanied Everett on his travels discovering new music. That was not the case. I regrets the error.
ANOTHER CORRECTION: Since I’ve listened to the Vana Mazi’s latest album, Flux, several more times, I’ve noticed that they do, in fact, sing in English. Some, anyway.