Brass Messengers
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Brass Messengers

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"Brass Messengers / Fanfare Ciocarlia at the Cedar"

What an excellent way to send Romania's Fanfare Ciocarlia home, as they play their last North American date to a packed house at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis last night, September 26th.



Brass Messengers
Kicking it all off was local big brass band, Brass Messengers. They were a really large band, and the crowd loved dancing to the big sound. Their most interesting song was a cover of Black Sabbath's "The Wizard," which was played shortly before their congo-style march into the audience to close out their set.

Speaking of large band, Fanfare Ciocarlia was even larger. They all wore the same red shirts, with the exception of two band members in black. I wondered about that, maybe they didn't have clean outfits… it was, after all, a long stint touring the country, with Minneapolis on their last stop.

After three songs in, with everyone still dancing in front, Fanfare Ciocarlia's band leader said, "Let's start the party," in his Romanian accent. True enough, they got the party started.

As you can see from the setlist, they had a lot of material to work with: from "Ciocarlia Si Suite" and "Lume, Lume" from 2000's Radio Pascani to "Caravan" 2005's Gili Garabdi to the cover of "Born to Be Wild" from 2007's Queens & Kings.

Most of their songs have no lyrics, so there won't be any language barrier. If you want to have a good time dancing, Fanfare Ciocarlia is a great band to experience live.

- We Heart Music


"The Brass Messengers"

Getting their start performing as a pick-up band in the May Day Parade, The Brass Messengers are truly a band of best friends, who have been playing together in some form for the past two decades. From parades, to rallies to national festivals, the band is atypical from other brass bands, with a joyous sound and a range of influences including Balkan and folk music. - TPT: Minnesota Public Television


"Brass Messengers"

The best way to describe the Brass Messengers is through a litany of basic facts -- they're a brass band, there's eleven of them, and you can see them playing around town at a number of events ranging from political gatherings to theater productions. Once you get into the attempts to describe their music in genre terms, then things get tangled: their music leaps across eras and continents, prying out the lines from between Eastern European and Romany music to fit in Latin, highlife and Americana. It's a joyous sound, and the only downside to confining it inside four walls is the fact that they're often best heard walking down the middle of the street.
- City Pages (Minneapolis)


"Brass Messengers Honk! it up in Massachusetts"

The ecstatic refuge of a street-band celebration.

Tony Randazzo strutted around the stage in a purple feather boa. It was easy to imagine he was the middle-aged offspring of Robin Williams and Jim Morrison, high on brass -- instruments.

Tony is the spiritual leader, singer, and triangle/peck horn/E flat tuba player for the Minneapolis-based band, Brass Messengers. And the stage was part of the seventh annual Honk! Festival of Activist Street Bands, a three-day blow out of brass, drums, and color held last weekend in Somerville, Mass. Imagine klezmer, Balkan and ska music meet Mardi Gras, with bands stretching from Rome to Los Alamos, New Mexico. That's the flavor of Honk!

"The biggest thing about being an activist is to make people hear," JB McLain, a founding member of the 11-person band, told Vita.mn over the brass in Johnny D's bar, as people on stilts paraded and played music outside. "You reach people this way."

McLain first took to the streets with the Brass Messengers in Minneapolis' May Day Parade 12 years ago. "People are just blown away," he said. "They can feel the vibrations of the horn."

Indeed, the drums and the horns cut through to the soul, the colors the musicians wear uplift the spirit, and the energy of the music does carry you to a place where change is not only possible, but inevitable, both in the world, and within your self.

- Vita.MN


Discography

Brass Messengers (self titled). Available from the band and web site.

Metal Harvest (2011). This second release is regularly featured on community radio stations around the country. It is in regular rotation at KFAI in Minneapolis, KGNU in Boulder, Colorado and KAXE in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and was featured on Minnesota Public Radio Local Show.

Photos

Bio

The Brass Messengers formed out of the puppet and street theater community in Minneapolis in 2000, though many have been playing together since the 1980s. Playing annual festivals together left the members wanting more. This brass band of eleven has remained committed to mobility and movement.

Trying their hand at Balkan Brass, the Mess moved on to Latin dance, Afro Jazz and Pop, New Orleans standards, and American country music. Increasingly the repertoire is dominated by original songs from within the group. These songs, while inspired by a variety of world styles, really conform to none, and are a reflection of ideas emerging from a tight knit crew of friends.

The Brass Messengers are regulars at HONK! street band festivals in Boston, Seattle and Austin, Texas. The group plays music and theater spaces large and small, from the Guthrie Theater, First Avenue and regular events at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis to street parades, festivals, schools and bars throughout the midwest and around the U.S. They have opened for world music greats, including Balkan Beat Box, Brave Combo and Fanfare Ciocarlia. The band has a strong working relationship with Minnesota Public Radio, featured in numerous live stage shows, and was featured as a Minnesota Original on Minnesota Public Television.

The BMs are known for a free for all stage presence where audiences have come to expect the unexpected. Indeed the band expects the same from each other. No set, and no show are much like any previous experience. It's not free jazz avant garde, but it certainly is unpredictable.