June 22, 2024

Hard-to-pronounce Turkish banjos

It's a very special edition of Global A Go-Go this week because I'm doing something I haven't done on my show since 2017: I'm hosting a live band in WRIR's Studio C.  The band in question is Zarove from right here in Richmond.  It's the new project of Pippin Barnett and Gary Kalar who have been playing together for years, and they've invited Steve Williams into the mix to make it a trio.
Pippin Barnett is the legendary Richmond drummer who's a founding member of Idio Savant, The Orthotonics, Famous Actors From Out Of Town, The Ululating Mummies, Boom, Ruckus Watusi, The Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra and Happy Lucky Combo (I'm sure I'm forgetting something), and has toured the world playing in the bands Curlew, Nimal and No Safety with stars of the avant-garde like Fred Frith, Tom Cora, George Cartwright, Zeena Parkins, Wayne Horvitz and Amy Denio.

Gary Kalar is a Minneapolitan and Chicagoan who lives for several months a year in Bulgaria, which has made his playing more deeply enmeshed than ever in the sounds of the former Ottoman Empire and the Balkans.  He's a guitarist by trade and is fluent on a wide number of what he refers to as "hard-to-pronounce Turkish banjos."  Gary's Chicago bands Lamajamal and Mucca Pazza recorded and toured widely, and here in Richmond he's currently a member of the bolero supergroup Miramar and plays with composer/keyboardist Curt Sydnor.  And Steve Williams is best known to Richmond music fans as the guitarist in the Ululating Mummies; in Zarove he shifts over to bass guitar.
Zarove's first public performance was at Plan 9 Music a couple of weeks ago; I was there and was dazzled.  They play long, deeply psychedelic jams based on Turkish, Balkan and Middle Eastern motifs, with Gary's electrified banjos snaking their way in and around Pippin's complex driving rhythms while Steve propels the whole thing forward and ties the low end down, at least to the extent that you can tie down an 11/4 meter.  I can assure you that you haven't heard anything quite like Zarove.

Their first venue gig will be on June 29 at Reveler, and you'll get a full length preview of what they'll be doing on stage if you tune in to Global A Go-Go this week (Sunday June 23, 1:00-3:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site).
Artist | Country | Song | Recording | Label | Year
Oliver Lake | USA | Separation | Matador Of 1st & 1st | Passin' Thru | 1997
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros | England UK | Global A Go-Go | Global A Go-Go | Hellcat | 2001
Bonbon Vodou | France-La Réunion | Le Nougat | Afrodiziak EP | Heavenly Sweetness | 2024
Shantel | Germany-Greece | Eastwest - Dysi Ki Anatoli (feat. Areti Ketime) | Viva Diaspora | Essay | 2015
Evritiki Zygia | Greece | Ormenion | Ormenion | Teranga Beat | 2020
Zarove, live in WRIR's Studio C:
Nu Nine
Wicky / Rouse
Temple / Boom Boom
No Safety
Altın Gün | Netherlands-Turkey | Kalk Gidelim | Aşk | ATO | 2023
Erkin Koray | Turkey | Olmayınca Olmuyor | Sanma / Olmayınca Olmuyor - Single | Kervan Plakçılık | 1977
Deli Teli | France-Greece | Ekso Dertia Kai Kaïmi | Tsifteteli Club EP | Rebel Up / Catapulte | 2021

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