I've gotten behind on my photo uploading again, so today I'm bringing you another music post about a band I've been meaning to talk about for awhile now. Balkan Beat Box are Israeli-born New Yorkers who blend diverse musical styles and influences to create music that is truly unique, as well as intelligent and fun. Their sound is primarily Mediterranean, but on any given track you might also hear elements of hip hop, electronica, klezmer, reggae and African beats, calypso, Latin rhythms, blues, and even some surf guitar. But this is no haphazard cobbling of musical styles; BBB blends these elements so seamlessly that it's easy to forget they are derived from such far-flung locations and cultures.
According to Wikipedia, Balkan Beat Box, "hoped to encourage and foster peace between citizens around the world by combining traditional music from various areas in the world," and that's exactly what this music does. BBB is able to integrate distinct musical forms through outstanding musicianship combined with strong anti-war and anti-racism messages, while all the time maintaining a sense of energy and good humor. You might think with heavy topics such as greed, war, and racism that the music wouldn't be very fun, but that couldn't be further from the truth. This music can make you dance just as easily as it can make you believe that peace among different races and religions is really possible.
Mark and I saw Balkan Beat Box earlier this year at The Fillmore, and it was easily one of the best live shows I've ever attended. Even the notoriously too-cool-to-dance San Franciscans nearly shook the house down, and I even witnessed hipsters getting down to the music (not that it was a pretty sight, but still). By the end of the show there were 20 or 30 people who had jumped up on stage to dance with the band. It was as much a spontaneous street party as it was a musical performance. Meanwhile, the band dazzled us with their musical acrobatics, giving the songs a fervent energy that went beyond the already spectacular studio recordings.
I'll leave you with one more track, which is one of my favorites from the most recent album, Blue Eyed Black Boy. Just to show you that BBB isn't all about sociopolitical ills, here's a touching little love song that blends a sexy Balkan dancehall sound with a characteristic reggae beat and a touch of Latin flavor. Now THIS is what love should sound like!