Gogol Bordello, Gypsy Punks

Gogol Bordello is a band known for chaotic live shows and music that blends Eastern European melody with punk bravado and cabaret flair. Founder and singer Eugene Hutz came to the US from the Ukraine with his family in the early 1990s and learned English in large part by listening to Johnny Cash records. Now living in New York City, Hutz has surrounded himself with an impressive band incorporating violin, saxophone, and, of course, accordion (from their excellent accordionist, Yuri Lemeshev).

Their latest album, Gypsy Punks: Underground World Strike, is polished, but still manages to capture some of the intensity of their live show. To appreciate Gogol Bordello, though, you really need to see them as well as hear them. Here’s a clip of the band performing two songs (“Not a Crime” and “60 Revolutions”) during their appearance on Later… with Jools Holland last month:

Martin White vs. Alice Cooper

Ever wondered how Britney Spears’ “Toxic” or Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” would sound if they were played on solo accordion? Well, thanks to accordionist Martin White, you no longer have to wonder. Martin’s made a name for himself playing whimsical covers of popular songs on accordion, and has appeared in a number of segments for The Culture Show on BBC 2. Here’s an unaired clip of Martin doing Alice Cooper’s “Poison”:

Lest you think Martin’s just a novelty act, check out his website and his albums of original music (usually instrumental, but there are a couple Edgar Allen Poe poems put to music as well). This tune from his Mystery Fax Machine Girl album shows there’s a definitely a serious musician in there… somewhere.

Eurovision 2006: Mostly Accordion-Free

I was hoping there would be at least one solid accordion act at the annual Eurovision finals, but it looks like only the performers from Bosnia & Herzegovina (Hari Mata Hari, who took 3rd place) brought along an accordionist (see photo). I didn’t get a chance to watch the entire show, so let me know if there were others I missed.

Even without accordions, though, the winning act — Finnish heavy-metal rockers Lordi, who dress like orcs that have wandered off the set of Lord of the Rings — was certainly impressive. Watch the video of their anthem, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”; it’s almost Spinal Tap-worthy. (And further proof that no one in Europe takes Eurovision seriously anymore.)

Squeezebox: New Zydeco TV Show

Following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, who hosted “Zydeco Extravaganza” on Lafayette, LA, television in the late 80’s, Dustin Cravins is launching a new weekly zydeco show called “Squeezebox” next month. It will air at 10 a.m. Sundays on KLAF-UPN 17 (in Lafayette) and the first episode will feature performances by Geno Delafose and Leon Chavis.

Cravins is hoping the show will help spark a zydeco revival and, in addition to live music and dancing, every episode will include a “cultural corner” focusing on elements of Creole culture, including history lessons, French phrases and cooking:

“What we didn?t want was a bon temp… Not to take anything away from that, but if we’re going to call ourselves revolutionaries, let’s come at it from a different approach. A lot of our culture and tradition is an oral one. Something needs to be done where we can actually show some of those things, maybe they had heard of, but never really knew much about.”

Sounds like it’ll be a fun show — now if I only I could figure out some way to get it on TV out here in California…

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