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TSCHUSCHEN A CAPPELLA
 

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The most explicitly political of the «93 folk fest«s four Austrian bands is Wiener Tschuschenkapelle (the name translates roughly as "wetbacks singing in Vienna"), whose music is Balkan and whose make-up is international. Besides being a superior Greek/Macedonian/Yugoslavian dance band, Wiener Tschuschenkapelle«s very existence is a rebuke to those who say that native Austrians and a variety of immigrants can«t live in harmony.

(Georgia Straight, Vancouver)

On one level the Wiener Tschuschenkapelle are simply a group of musicians from Austria, Turkey, and Southern Europe who perform music from the Balkans. On another level they are living statement against the racism, prejudice, and intolerance which is particularly aimed against immigrants from Southern Europe and Turkey, who live in Vienna in large numbers. This fact might escape the Northern American listener. ...Maybe "wetback" or "DP" would be a North American equivalent...And they are great musicians ...Rarely have we heard music from Southern Europe played as well, perhaps the intent of the music inspires their playing.

(The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver)

"It is incredibly important for the morale of our fellow citizens that we played for the poorest of the poor, for those who suffered most during the war and who cannot afford to pay for music. - Music composed by me, played with the instruments of the Tschuschenkapelle; Mozambiquans who danced to the music of the violin and the accordion, those moments really moved me."

(Roberto Chitsondzo, musician of the group Ghorwane, Frelimo-MP,
about the joint tour with the Wiener Tschuschenkapelle,
February 1996, Zimbabwe-Mozambique)

"We did not perform in front of "upper class"-audiences, the rich in the posh clubs, but we went to the people in the streets, performed for the people in the "townships" and the cooperatives. That was more difficult but certainly the more interesting way."

(Adula Ibn Quadr,
musician of Wiener Tschuschenkapelle,
February 1996, Zimbabwe-Mozambique)

"I do not wish to limit myself to the music which is played in my village. There are so many villages all over the world."

(Slavko Ninić,
Band leader of Wiener Tschuschenkapelle
February 1996, Zimbabwe-Mozambique)

Taking the Roxy stage on February 25th was Wiener Tschuschenkapelle, a group of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe who have gathered in Vienna to brew their own steaming vat of Balkan music. Stirred in was a variety of flavours including old Viennese folk – somehow evoking Gustav Mahler – and even a twist of Latino clave. All this served up with a unique, highly energising spice. Punters found themselves jumping, waltzing, then swivelling, some stumbling.

Despite the band’s prolific and prestigious recognition they carry a reputation for performing in tiny remote villages to those who can’t afford the concert hall. The ‘poorest of the poor’, as one ex-member has pointed out. This explains the mere 90 Kc admission price. Surprisingly the venue was at half capacity (didn't anybody know?!) but those there threw themselves around the floor and brought the band back out for a 4th encore.

Singer/guitarist and charismatic showman Slavko Ninic hosted the performance in a cocktail of Balkan language, dropping in the occasional Czech word. Some of us understood virtually nothing yet found ourselves laughing stupidly at his wit.

Throughout the show Martin Lubenov’s accordion never left his shoulders, despite the four encores. It seemed more an extension of him than his instrument. The music was expressed not only in his dynamic playing but his soulful face. Coming originally from Sofia, Lubenov celebrates his gypsy heritage in this and other projects. Keep an eye out for him. www.martinlubenov.com
Clarinettist Hidan Mamudovh, originally from Macedonia, invigorated the crowd with his jubilant and lip-smacking playing. Stopping just momentarily to pick up a saxophone, Mamudov continued to launch into solo after solo. Only during one, perhaps two of the slower tunes was he detected sneaking breath.

With Slavko Ninic´s brief departure from the stage came a display of instrumental solos. The most memorable was from Peter Struzenberger. Not often does a double-bass solo capture and drive a big crowd, but his was plucked, bowed, slapped and climbed its way out and out of itself. Chins all around began sideswiping to the raw smears of his grunting bass.

Loudest cheers were unleashed upon percussionist Maria Petrova. She delighted us not only with her emphatic playing but in the grace of her poise, perched up there on the cajon.
The word ´tschusch´ is a kind of derogatory term coined by Austrian puritans to label ethnic minority immigrants. The name Wiener Tschuschenkapelle, ie. ´tschusch´s singing in Vienna, is a politically charged irony. The music itself is a celebration of borderlessness and cultural integration.

Don’t miss them next time. www.tschuschenkapelle.at
(Guy Dowsett) ©2004 The Provokator Magazine
An Instigator Media Group Produktion 2004