They aren’t really hippies. In fact, there aren’t even 17 of them (13 at last count). But that hasn’t stopped Berlin’s 17 Hippies from rolling dozens of genres — Eastern European folk, French chanson, Cajun/zydeco, and more — into a unique pop style all their own. Lyrics sung in German, French, and English somehow all feel at home when layered over accordion, ukulele, banjo, clarinet, bouzouki, and trombone. When the band first started, members intentionally chose instruments they had never touched; twelve years and 1200 concerts later, they’re still playing traditional tunes and instruments in an entirely untraditional way.
Last year, 17 Hippies played at Mountain Stage in West Virginia; you can listen that entire, high-energy appearance online at the NPR website. And if I haven’t sold you enough, here’s a track off their excellent 2007 album, Heimlich: