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Band Folk Cabaret


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"‘Post-gypsy’ band redefines folk"

After Hurricane Katrina struck, Forrest Johnson, who plays mandolin and fiddle and handles vocals, relocated to Austin and posted an ad on Craigslist, looking to jam with somebody. Drummer Derek Hansen and guitarist/vocalist Sanford Krones, who also happened to be New Orleans transplants, responded. The band later found accordion player Joe Egnot and bassist Peet Murray when a trio they had played in abruptly disbanded.
Hansen was initially reluctant to respond due to Johnson’s ominous prose.
“It described a sound of pirate ships sinking in the sand and dwarves dancing around, and trash cans making spooky sounds,” Hansen said.
Wino Vino is a celebration of European folk music. the group’s songs deal with the cycles of life and death — death especially, as the members described themselves as “children of the apocalypse.”
The band’s instruments are all acoustic, but with its boundless energy, amplifiers seem to be for wimps. Egnot is heavily influenced by Diamanda Galas, and Hansen is inspired by the street musicians and brass bands of New Orleans — all of whom don’t need a big sound system to affirm their presence.
“We can bring the energy level of a rock band only with acoustic instruments and keep the energy level going,” Johnson said.
The band postulates that the “um-bop” beat common in European folk music is the key element to getting crowds worked up. Hansen finds the reaction encouraging, because his transition from New Orleans shows to Austin shows was rough.
“I was pretty discouraged at first about the lack of dancing; I’d go to a show and I’d be depressed because I’d love this band and I’m rockin’ out and I look around — are you guys having fun?” he said.
The band’s influences do present some labeling woes — “the dirty G-word,” as Egnot puts it.
“Since we’re European based in our acousticness and traditionality, the temptation is to say ‘gypsy,’” he said. “I call us post-gypsy.”
Johnson doesn’t reject the gypsy label entirely, given how the band was formed.
“We’re all a little nomadic; we all kinda happened to land here by accident,” he said.
Wino Vino is not a small ensemble by any means, and combined with the band’s onstage chemistry, there is a strong sense of community to the band. Egnot suggests that “you should smell your friends” and “sing as if nobody else can hear you” when watching the band perform live.
“Picture a campfire: We’re like the fire, and there’s people around keeping warm and feeling good and going off on their own little perspective of what the fire is about,” Krones said.
This is partly due to the fact that most of the band resides in East Austin. Krones said it reminds him of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. Gentrification — the other dirty G-word — looms over Wino Vino’s heads, but the band doesn’t think the trend will last. Like members of any good band, their focus stays on playing kick-ass shows with good friends and good beer.
Percussionist and washboard player the Rev. Flint Fancy likes playing in East Austin in such venues as the Victory Grill that allow the band to resonate with people who wouldn’t typically attend a performance.
“We’ve played shows … that have touched 90-year-old Hispanic grandparents of friends,” she said. “It’s such a range, and without that kind of family feeling in East Austin there wouldn’t be a place for art or music.”
In addition, the band prefers small venues — ones in which 30 to 40 people constitutes a sellout. To Wino Vino, Emo’s might as well be the Erwin Center. If the band is on the same level as the audience, it’s going to be a rowdy show.
“You’re in their face. They’re in your face. The energy exchange is more direct,” Johnson said. - The Daily Texan

"Indie Austin"

By Kim Roche
I got hungry one night and stopped by my friend’s pizza restaurant. Midway through my salad, some freak rolled up on a unicycle. Our pizza came, and we watched some more kids pulling gear out of their station wagons. A girl disembarked from the #1 bus with a trombone, a music stand, and a messy pile of sheet music. They assembled in the parking lot and busted out murder ballads, gypsy songs, and crazy, crazy carnival ruckus. After their set, they picked up their instruments and played their way out the door, trombone, concertina, snare drum, standup bass, and all. If Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Gogol Bordello tried to have a baby together, I don’t think it would take. Until then, Wino Vino will have to carry the torch.


They're Austin's very own Eastern European folk-influenced, eight-or-so person troupe of circus-minded rabble-rousers. Their music is like a huge party, and it doesn't matter where you're from as long as you can dance like it's your final days. They call their music "shipwrecked gypsy punk romantico," further describe their sound as "A band of gypsies playing on a ship sinking somewhere near New Orleans." Either description works. Mandolin, fiddle, concertina and accordion swirl together in a vibrant dance. The vast majority of their songs are awash with all manner of sounds, and "Hell" is no different. There are so many instruments and voices jostling that they make you want to dance around the room, clapping and yelling "Hey!" Layers of choral voices, clarinet, even a washboard collide and sweeten the pot. - The (That Handsome Devil)

"Sound Off: WinoVino"

Over the past couple years, there has emerged here in Austin a tight knit community of Pre-Folk players that have been upending the city’s sound with wild Appalachian stomps and Old World odes. Congealed behind the infamous, still occurring Secret Shows, groups like the McMercy Family Band, The Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang, That Damned Band, and Wax Museum Pandemonium have helped create an impressive community of wild stringers that dig well below the roots of their influences to unearth a wild and cathartic music that is at once traditional and brazenly progressive in execution. Among the forefront of this crop is Wino Vino, an octet that unleashes ribald gypsy anthems that melds Balken flair with fervent energy and attitude as their stellar musicianship brings the Old World anachronistically to bear on the modern. - Austin Sound


EP "Down in the Dunes" released in the summer of 2007. A self titled LP was released in the fall of 2008.



From the cobbled streets of Paris circa 1920, to a dusty wagon train across Romania. From peril on the high seas, to the seedy underbelly of prohibition era cabaret, we've hitched our way across a century and more. We have brought back with us an acoustic revelry of uproarious instrumentals, swooning ballads, and an intoxicating live performance for young and old alike.