Taraf De Haidouks 

It's been four years since the last dispatch from this brilliant Gypsy ensemble from the remote Romanian village of Clejani. Their live album, Band of Gypsies (Nonesuch, 2001), captured them in excellent form: they played high-velocity grooves that reeled like a bum loopy from slivovitz mixed with strings played by virtuosos who didn't consider knockout precision and ragged wildness incompatible. Their eponymous U.S. debut album in 1999 drew its tracks from three studio discs the band recorded for the Belgian label Crammed Discs, but studio recordings are secondary for a band whose music is so steeped in oral tradition and so closely associated with public gatherings--their go-for-broke style was designed for village festivities like weddings and naming ceremonies. With the attention they've received thanks to their albums, a performance in Tony Gatlif's 1993 documentary, Latcho drom, and celebrity booster Johnny Depp, they've stoked an ongoing interest in Gypsy music from eastern Europe. And in the last year or two they've become a key inspiration for the burgeoning Balkan underground scene: according to a recent feature in The Fader, getting wrecked on vodka while dancing to old Gypsy music is de rigueur for European hipsters these days. The group was artfully remixed on last year's Electric Gypsyland (Six Degrees), a surprisingly effective compilation of dance remixes of traditional Gypsy music; they appeared more recently on Bucovina Club (Essay), a collection programmed by former trip-hop producer Shantel, whose Frankfurt club night has become the center of the Balkan underground. Despite the death of leader and violinist Nicolae Neacsu in 2002, at 78, the group soldiers on, oblivious to trends. And international success hasn't altered their indomitable, survivalist spirit: after their last show here, a 2001 gig at the Old Town School of Folk Music, a group member was shaking down concertgoers for extra scratch. Tue 5/10, 7 and 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $20.

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