Maria Noel is a singer with two of Portland’s Balkan bands: Krebsic Orkestar and Kafana Klub. As I explore what compels natural-born Americans play foreign, particularly Balkan, music, I was curious to learn more about Maria’s experience. She chatted with me on a hot July afternoon. American Robotnik: How did you get into Balkan music? Maria Noel: I’ve always had an interest in folk music but for a long time I lacked focus. I guess I just needed to meet the right people. In around 1993 I met Dennis [...] Continue reading >
Alex Krebs is the founder of Krebsic Orkestar, a Portland, Oregon-based Balkan brass band, where he plays the saxophone. Dubbed by Oregon Music News to be “Oregon’s tango king”, he teaches tango, fronts the Alex Krebs Tango Quartet, and in August he will back up on bandoneon “the Frank Sinatra of tango” Alberto Podestá at a festival in Baltimore. He has a double major in physics and music from Reed College. He shared with me his passion for Balkan brass music at his Tango Berretin studio in Southeast Portland. [...] Continue reading >
For one more day you can support the effort of Portland’s and Poland’s own Ashia Grzesik to raise money for the recording of her debut album with Ashia & The Bison Rouge. The project’s “meat and potatoes” in Ashia’s own words (edited for length/clarity by American Robotnik; details are at Kickstarter): As a child of Polish immigrants growing up on the West Coast of the United States, I was raised in two cultures, and my music and art is an extension of that upbringing. This will be an album of [...] Continue reading >
For the last post of 2011, enjoy this holiday video by Chervona, featuring American Robotnik as an extra. Have the most excellent 2012!
Enough! Bob Dylan has just tossed the final straw onto my music library’s back. For years now, I’ve been discovering that, rather than created by the act I knew as its author, song after song had been spawned by Bob Dylan years before I was born. In quiet, desperate disbelief I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan dismantle my musical reality. What happened? For sentimental reasons I bought the Siouxsie and the Banshees’ compilation Twice Upon a Time/The Singles, where I was delighted to hear “This Wheel’s on Fire”, the title song from [...] Continue reading >
Kultur Shock, “House of Labor”, on Ministry of Kultur (2011) [audio:http://americanrobotnik.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/06-House-Of-Labor.mp3|titles=Kultur Shock - House Of Labor, 2011] My lies to myself Lies to my people Lies from my past, present, and future Made me sick to my stomach Made me hide my pride Made me hide my life Forget my kultur I wanted to find My new self in a new world But I got so lost What the fuck did I do—Lies!
Though Seattle-based Kultur Shock is one of my favorite transplant bands, I only learned about their latest, February release Ministry of Kultur while doing research for American Robotnik. Having not listened to their music for a while, I decided to judge the band’s fifth studio album (7th overall) in the context of their entire production: to get a real sense of where Kultur Shock stand today, I listened to all their studio albums in chronological order. The experience reminded me of my early trail runs as well as of my acculturation journey toward [...] Continue reading >