Friday, May 18, 2012

DeLeon -- Jewish Community Center (Rockville) - May 17 2012

DeLeon - I enjoyed my interview with Daniel Saks of DeLeon, who along with one other member is from the DC area. We discussed some of the bands he has toured with including one of my favorites, Os Mutantes. That triggered a memory that I may have seen DeLeon on that tour when they played the State Theatre. Sure enough, I had (in Oct 2009), although they did not have their drummer or trumpeter. They were still fun that night and I looked forward to a fuller set tonight. Alas, their drummer could not make this show (darn that having babies thing--just gets in the way of so much in life). There was still a percussion presence with a floor tom played by other members at times. The sounds were guitar or banjo with bass much of the time and trumpet and glockenspiel. All sang although primarily it was Mr. Saks with much assistance from Amy Crawford. This band takes Sephardic folk songs and updates them with occasional lyric translations and modern additions to the arrangements. That fit well into a growing style made popular from one of my favorites Boiled in Lead (who coincidentally I chatted with this week) along with Gogol Bordello, Balkan Beatbox, 16 Hp, and many more bands whose CDs regularly work there way to me. I invariably enjoy this, as I love both folk songs and older music. And when a band such as DeLeon has the talent to match the vision, then I am an easy victim falling prey to their music. Saks is a strong vocalist, as is Crawford and the evocative Spanish sounding vocal lines (sung in English, Ladino, Hebrew...) carry strong melodies and emotions. And some of the lyrics were so dark, the audience paused before clapping. Musically, the trumpet added a nice touch to the guitar/flat picked banjo and bass leadings. This was a big hall and unfortunately, the sound got lost in the space at times. The 70-80 people would have packed out the Red Palace and had a rollicking good time. Still, the audience picked up on this music and clearly enjoyed the set. They did a nice closing number featuring a bit of classic rock guitar which was memorable. Other times, they reminded me of an alternate universe where the Incredible String Band had existed in a commune in Spain instead of Wales. The music was excellent, the humor was good including a fun impromptu Q+A before the encore. They are finishing up their third album (independently--see my interview for more details) and I suspect we will be seeing this fine band again soon.

Quote of the Night: From Dan Saks and a member of the audience discussing an exotic alcoholic drink...
"Has anybody ever had Raki, like in Turkey?"
"Strong, isn't it?"
"Yeah, is that my Mom?"

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