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What's so good about Billy's Band?
I can sum up why I like Billy's Band in two words: musical mayhem.
Every once in a while, it's fun to just let loose: ignore the rules, pay no attention to how we're supposed to act on stage, forgot what we were taught about musical technique...and it's amazing how good the music can be when that happens. Billy's Band is a great example.
When Billy's Band takes the stage, although you might know how many musicians will be there, that's about all you can reliably expect. There will definitely be four of them, but what instruments they bring with them is anyone's guess. For example, here's how the band is listed on their website (www.billysband.ru/eng2):
Billy Novik: contrabass, vocal, piano, banjo
Andrey Ryzhik: guitar, dombra, cymbals, tambourine, howling
Anton Matezius: Russian accordion, percussion, marimba, howling
Featuring Mikhail Zhydkikh: saxophone, percussion
Billy's Band calls themselves "Dixieland funeral with an infinite happy end". I'm not sure exactly what means; but on their website they describe it as "like a combined Dixieland and polka band that plays almost jazzy". (Their bio is really quite funny - you can read it at www.billysband.ru/eng2/group.php.) The band is heavily influenced by Tom Waits - the lead singer uses a similarly gruff voice, in Russian and English - and, well, just give them a listen: here's a track from a 2006 release.
And, in case that little sample doesn't quite portray the mayhem to which I refer, perhaps this video will:
You may know from other posts that I've been called at times a bit of a musical snob. Nothing drives me crazy faster than a bad band taking themselves too seriously. Billy's Band seems to be doing just the opposite - first of all, they sound great. Second - and perhaps most importantly - they seem to having a great time on stage. I'll do my best to drop by on June 27 and clap and hoot and holler and experience some excellent musical fun. I hope to see you there...and in the meantime, here's another little taste (I'm pretty sure that's not standard crash cymbal method):