Tim Fogarty and Kristian Dunn of El Ten Eleven perform at Union Stage on April 15, 2022. (Photo by Marc Shea)
“We love it when you guys sing along” was the quote of the night from Kristian Dunn, the bassist and one half of the duo El Ten Eleven. That’s typical of the humor the instrumental band displays, not just in their occasional between song banter with the audience, but also within the songs titles like “Adam And Nathan Totally Kick Ass.” And every bit of it was on display at Union Stage recently.
Rodrigo y Gabriela perform at The Anthem on Oct. 6, 2021. (Photo by Rashad Polk)
Some of the best art is created at the intersection of different cultures and traditions. Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Grammy-winning guitar duo who played The Anthem recently, represent just such an intersection. Natives of Mexico City, Mexico, Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quinto grew up under the dual influence of heavy metal (especially Metallica, but also Slayer, Overkill, Testament and Megadeth) and Latin music (including flamenco, as well as the traditions of their home country).
Nick Rhodes and Wendy Bevan (Photo by Radka Leitmeritz)
Duran Duran synthesist Nick Rhodes and violinest Wendy Bevan team for Astronomia I: The Fall of Saturn, the first of four albums to be released on equinox or solstice days throughout 2021.
Nick’s own Tape Modern published the ambient instrumental on Friday, March 19, and the duo then shared a visualizer video for “The Great Attractor.”
Los Straitjackets (Photo courtesy Yep Roc Records)
Asked about the humor in his music, Frank Zappa said that music is supposed to be entertaining. I imagine that the members of Los Straitjackets would say the same thing. Los Straitjackets, who played the Pearl Street Warehouse recently, lean all the way into their gimmick of luchadores-turned-instrumental rockers. Dressed in matching suits and Mexican wrestling masks, they address the audience only in Spanish.
God Is an Astronaut performs at Rock and Roll Hotel on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Marc Caicedo)
“Buying records cheers me up…whenever I feel low, I buy some new records.” Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz
The ability of music to lift us from pain born of tragedy is one of its enduring qualities. Recently, God Is an Astronaut (GIAA) showed us how despair and grief can be relieved — if only temporarily — with soaring melodies, a huge backbeat, and the sort of musical intimacy between player and listener that gives solace at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
Too Many Zooz amaze the crowd at the 9:30 Club on Dec. 23, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)
The New York City-based trio Too Many Zooz refer to their own music as “brass house,” which can be a bit hard to describe. Incorporating elements of up tempo ska, house, dub, and jazz, David “King of Sludge” Parks (drums/percussion), Leo Pellegrino (baritone sax), and Matt “Doe” Muirhead (trumpet/keys) have gone from busking the busy New York subway to playing alongside Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks at the 50th Annual CMA Awards in 2016.
And the trio took their brass house sound to 9:30 Club on Saturday.
Sansyou (Photo by Greg Svitil)
I often find myself referring to Sansyou as DC’s answer to The Durutti Column.
That’s not to say that this talented instrumental trio from our nation’s capital evokes the same virtuoso style of Vini Reilly, one of the greatest and most singular guitarists of the new wave/post-punk era. But as Sansyou’s debut album “The Glistening One” demonstrates, both artists share a similar philosophy when it comes to creating atmosphere.