In recent years I have obsessed about moving to Eastern Europe and joining a band of gypsies. With the big boom of Balkan music hitting international ear waves and brass bands randomly taking over the streets to make joyous noise here in Seattle, who wouldn’t want to dust off the grandma’s old squeeze box, move to a foreign country, and to learn the way of the gypsy from the people who live it? Well, now this life is tempting me even more and it’s all Mahala Rai Banda’s Fault! Mahala Rai Banda will set your ears on fire, your body will convulse with wild dance moves, and you will know every word to every song but you don’t know what language you’re speaking! Mahala Rai Banda is bringing gypsy music back to the spotlight, where it belongs.
This band of gypsies, founded by violinist Aurel Ionita, sucks you in with roaring horns, twinkling accordions, screeching (of course in the best sense of the word) violins, and the beats of Romania. The literal translation of Mahala Rai Banda is “noble band from the ghetto” and in their newest album, Ghetto Blasters, they weren’t joking around. Mahala Rai Banda takes that traditional gypsy/Balkan sound into overdrive as the notes are going a million light years a minute and is backed by this thudding bass that would make any gangster get down. Mahala Rai Banda takes the best parts of Balkan music and blends it all together into an album of nonstop party. It’s like going to the wedding of the daughter of an infamous mafia lord…the drinks are flowing, the guests can’t stop dancing, the band is blaring all night long, and unexpected, yet not too surprising, events erupt turning the whole crowd on their heads. It’s a celebration that will knock you down and keep going without you.
It is not a fluke that Mahala Rai Banda is so good at what they do. They come by it honestly. They were born into the gypsy life and used their expertise in the traditions and music to turn themselves into an international success. The band comes from two notoriously musical towns in Romania. Southwest of Bucharest the town of Clejani fosters extraordinary fiddlers. The legendary Taraf de Haidouks, who can make fiddles cry for their mothers, calls this place home. And in the northeast corner of Romania lies Zece Prajini where learning to play the horn is a birth right. The notorious Fanfare Ciocarlia was bred and groomed for stardom in Zece Prajini. So let’s imagine that these two awesomely mind blowing Balkan bands had a baby….well we don’t have to imagine because they already did and it’s called Mahala Rai Banda. And this baby is making its parents very proud.
Anyways, if you’re in the mood for a good time and your standard soul or funk isn’t going to cut it, check out Mahala Rai Banda for some party tunes. They will surely get you pumped up for a night out on the town. Once the horns start blasting, this band will make you want to eat, drink, dance, and wail like a gypsy. That sounds like a good night to me.