Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Funky music scene in Amsterdam

Thursday night, I was invited by my friend Celeste's husband, Eoghan, to go to Paradiso and see "The Ex" and Getachew, a Dutch punk rock band playing with an Ethiopian saxophonist from the 60s. Paradiso is an amazing club set in an old church. There are stained glass windows behind the stage and balconies lining the theatre. They have excellent acoustics and beer is 2 euro 20 cents (much cheaper than a similar US venue, I think).

It was a great evening but the band ended at 10:30pm. After the show, Eoghan took off with his friends and my friend Jen and I decided to hang out see what the next band was like.
The dj was spinning some very cool Indian lounge music and mixing it up with some really great Arabic music. We had heard that the next band was Shantel and his Bucovar Orkestar. I really like Balkan beat music and we had already paid to see The Ex and enjoyed it so why the hell not?

As Shantel hit the stage in his trackie suit and knit hop hop hat, he started noodling around on the keyborad. Then the Drummer took the stage with slicked back long thin hair, a red sateen vest reminiscent of the ones I wore in "Show choir" and a cheesy goatee. The trombone player, accordionist, and the rest of the horns took the stage and suddenly BAM! the party started... and what a party it was. At one point as Shantel poured vodka over us and we jumped up and down in the air chanting "Disco Disco something something" "Hup Hup Hup!" - Jen screamed in my ear - "THIS IS LIKE BEING AT THE FUNKIEST FUNNEST WEDDING EVER!"

For your enjoyment, I paste the review of his latest album and I encourage you to get out there and see this band if you ever get a chance!

Crazy eclectic mix of mutant funk, Romanian ballads, Balkan brass and freestyle electronica: Shanelt and the Bucovina Orkestar.

Follow up to the hugely successfull "Bucovina Club" - curated and hosted by Frankfurter Shantel - who's forsaken his old downtempo weedhop stylings for the manic music of the Balkans. The record's a sort of imaginary soundtrack to a defunct but amazing, vodka-fuelled, gypsy-rave all-nighter club, the Bucovina, that used to take place under the portals of an elegant old Frankfurt theatre.The album transports the mood of the Bucovina Club nights, which gives the audience the right feeling for a sweatdriven dancenight. These featured 15 tracks are the ultimate drenching floorfillers in the small hours when hundreds of dance-hungry people are still going strong.

On Bucovina Club 2, 5 of the 15 tracks are exclusive original recordings and 5 are exclusive mixes. SHANTEL’s own tracks featuring stars of the Gypsy and Balkan music scene: BOBAN MARKOVIC and his son MARKO, JONY ILIEV, VESNA PETKOVIC, the all-star line-up BUCOVINA CLUB ORKESTAR, the exclusive remixes feature MAHALA RAI BANDA, FANFARE CIOCARLIA, SANDY LOPICIC ORKESTAR & French-Romanian actress RONA HARTNER (of TONY GATLIF’s movie Gadjo Dilo) while the other tracks present a host of famous artists and some newcomers such as: DR. NELLE KARAJLIC, BALKAN BEAT BOX, SLONOVSKI BAL and GORAN BREGOVIC. SHANTEL’s crazily eclectic mix of Clubsounds, Future Funk, Roma Ballads, Balkan Brass and Freestyle Electronica is already legendary across the dancefloors of Europe. Digital teams up with analogue, beat embraces melody, tango goes lyrical – and it ain’t over til even the samovar sings. There’s no denying SHANTEL’s former life as a producer of Downtempo and Electronica – it’s an experience that has taught him to fly in the face of convention by treating local Eastern European and Balkan music in the same way as HipHop or all kinds of club music and making them just as much an integral part of today’s youth and pop culture.

There’s nothing clichéd about this new wave of music – and not a bobble-hatted world music purist in sight. Bucovina Club is pure, naked euphoria and brings together all ages and nationalities. Not in a politically correct, happy-clappy multiculturalists way – but by placing a direct and visceral punch that really gets people moving. The parties take up where the ecstatic raves of the House and Techno generation left off. This atmosphere is transferred into the second BUCOVINA CLUB CD. SHANTEL and his Bucovina Club is in great demand, not only at European festivals and Clubs. The big names of the Gypsy music scene jamed with him or have had their recordings produced by him or remixed by him: TARAF DE HAIDOUKS, MAHALA RAI BANDA, KOCANI ORKESTAR, ZDOB SI ZDUB, BOBAN MARKOVIC ORKESTAR, FRANK LONDON’S KLEZMER BRASS ALLSTARS, SANDY LOPICIC ORKESTAR, just to name a few.

On the Electric Gypsyland tour he played 30 festivals from France to Morocco and La Reunion, and he has taken his Bucovina Club to such in-clubs as the Nouveau Casino and Favela Chic (Paris), Futuro Flamenco/Nottinghill Arts Club (London), P.P.C. (Graz), the MTV Festival in Bucharest's biggest disco, the legendary Transmusicales in Rennes, to Tel-Aviv, the Balkan Fever Festival (Vienna) and even to such temples of high culture as the State Theatres of Vienna, Hamburg and Stuttgart, the Hebbel Theater in Berlin and the Vienna Festival. A large number of cities have now regular Club evenings like Zurich (Xtra), Nuremberg (K 4) and, of course, hometown Frankfurt (Schauspiel). Even vast crowds have been drawn into the world of the Bucovina Club: as the closing act of the Station-to-Station-Festivals in Florence, on the biggest square in Czernowitz (Bucovina) and at the summer open air events in Frankfurt. SHANTEL’s Bucovina Club has put the Balkans firmly on the map of contemporary pop culture, throwing overboard the stereotypes and clichés, putting a whole new slant on the way we think about the “wild east” and Gypsy culture. Bucovina Club is a heady mix of electronic club music and vibrant Roma music.


  1. I love The Ex! Jealous that you got to see them in Amsterdam! Sounds like a great night! -JL

  2. I can't believe you didn't tell me about this! I had to read about it, just like the canaille. Sounds totally cool.

  3. My name is XMAN I am a multi platinum music producer and artist out of Los Angeles California. I want to come to Amsterdam and kick off my second solo album! Where should I start??? check me out at www.myspace.com/24thletta as well as www.cyberstreetrecords.com your opinion is golden and I think your site is hot!