Long before the current Balkan brass music craze, as iconified by crossover artists like Beirut, NY's Balkan Beat Box, and Beats Antique the musicians of the San Francisco Bay Area's powerhouse Brass Menazeri Balkan Brass Band were already getting deep into the music. A musical tradition developed over centuries by the Rom (“Gypsy”) communities of Serbia, Macedonia and Greece, it is as alive with ecstatic celebration as with despairing laments. Drawing on many of the characteristics common throughout the Balkans: odd-metered rhythms, riveting, often close harmonies, soulful improvisations, and a mission to get people dancing Brass Menazeri embraces it all.
They are steeped in tradition and yet bring their own 21st-century American sensibilities to every arrangement they create, every wild solo they take, every note they play. This is not museum music, nor a re-creation or an emulation. It is undeniably alive, played with skill and passion by seasoned musicians.
Born and raised in Boston, Lif broke out with his seminal Enters The Colossus EP and quickly established himself as one of the most ambitious and forward-thinking MCs in the game. As the first artist to sign to the legendary Definitive Jux Recordings - a movement in both independent rap and independent music culture - Lif cemented his status with a string of critically acclaimed releases, including Emergency Rations, I Phantom, & the Perceptionists' Black Dialogue project.
A 9-time Boston Music Award winner, Lif has been featured on MTV, Rolling Stone, SPIN, The NY Times, The Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, and XXL, among others. In 2011, Lif joined legendary world music group Thievery Corporation as a vocalist and member of the band's live performance troupe. His song "Culture of Fear" became the title track of their 6th studio album.
Lif has toured over 20 countries as a soloist, and has collaborated with a slate of critically acclaimed musicians including Aesop Rock, Cut Chemist, The Polish Ambassador, Galactic, Chali 2na, Jedi Mind Tricks, El-P, DJ Q-Bert, Del the Funkee Homosapien, Murs, and DJ Krush.
BRASS MENAZERI & MR. LIF - THE COLLABORATION
In 2010, Hearth Music arranged the ground-breaking collaboration between Mr. Lif & Brass Menažeri for the 2010 Seattle Folk Festival. That work has inspired these artists to work together long-term. The fruits of their creative melding can be heard on their up and coming release. Find out more about the project on Hearth Music and SF Weekly.
TRUE LIFE TRIO
True Life Trio performs riveting vocal harmonies from Eastern Europe, the Americas and beyond. This innovative trio explores the creative possibilities of cross-fertilization of different traditions with unlikely timbres connecting Bulgaria to the Bayou. The group's improvisation-laced repertoire includes original songs and folk tunes from far-flung lands such as Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Mexico, Poland, Ukraine and the American South.
Currently, True Life Trio is working on their first full-length recording, Like Never and Like Always, which will be released in the Fall of 2015. The album, a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Gari Hegedus, was originally commissioned by the East Bay Fund For Artists with premiere performances in November of 2014. This ambitious and exciting recording project is being produced by Eric Oberthaler and was recorded by David Luke at Opus Studios in Berkeley, CA
Briget Boyle is a singer-songwriter and guitar player based in Oakland, CA. With training in fields as diverse as Balkan folk singing, African drum and dance, Swedish massage, and theatre tech, Briget is an engaging and complex performer who brings a lifetime of discovery and struggle to her music. Briget began singing backup for her mother, Karen Tobin, at the age of seven, and working in Hollywood’s film scoring studios at 14. It was there she found her creative voice and began writing songs. Love, loss, loneliness–these foundational triumphs and tragedies of her formative years have kept her writing and creating ever since.
Her discovery of Balkan music (which had nothing to do with her own) would claim her musicianship for a time. And over the past decade, she has worked with Kitka Eastern European Women’s Vocal Ensemble, Brass Menažeri, and True Life Trio. Inspired by these collaborations, Briget has started to explore her own style as a solo artist, taking her diverse experiences and musical influences and weaving them seamlessly into poignant vignettes. Briget’s first album, The Parts Interior, is now available on cdbaby.com.
After a long and successful career in video production, Kathy switched gears and dove headlong into the world of her first love, music. She brought with her a fully developed musical character and brilliant songs fashioned from a life both expansive and deep.
Her latest release, Main Street is a beautiful journey that touches deep into the chords of everyday life and the interplay of human emotions. Kathy’s gorgeous voice draws you, the listener, into worlds familiar to us all, resonating common experiences in a spin that is unique to Kathy and her own experience.