Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino Bring Their Wild, Eclectic Live Show to Joe’s Pub

by delarue

In Europe, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino play stadiums and the WOMAD festival. In New York they’re at…Joe’s Pub on June 27 at 7:30. Tickets are $20 and still available as of today, June 23. Anyone unfamiliar with the band who might think them sedate because they play Italian folk music is in for a big surprise: their feral, ferocious, footstomping show might bring down a few chandeliers by the time the show’s over.

Their latest album is titled Pizzicata Indiavolata. While the group uses centuries-old melodies as their stepping-off point, they take them places no one else has gone. Perfect example: the first track, which kicks off with a circular soukous melody and then builds to a slinky blend of qawwali and trip-hop, spiked with biting violin. The next track sets a Nick Drake-ish guitar pastorale to a camelwalking desert blues rhythm. The fourth is a haunting waltz, frontwoman Maria Mazzota’s edgy, microtonal melismas against psychedelic washes of accordion that mimic the effect of backward masking.

The best song on the album is Questa Mattina, scary guy/girl harmonies over a trancey harmonium drone, guitar throwing off some ominous oud-like voicings, bagpipes joining the mix to raise the otherworldly menace. E Chora Te Amenu features ripplling, feathery zither breaks, while La Voce Tola is a pensive revolutionary ballad sung in both English and Italian.

There’s a trio of hypnotic one-chord jams, the second one building to an almost Scottish-sounding bagpipe solo, the last juxtaposing Mazzotta’s powerhouse vocals against suspenseful accordion. There’s also a trio of deliriously bouncy Mexican jumping bean-style romps scattered throughout the tracks, one that trades unexpectedly back and forth with an ominous Balkan-flavored vamp.