Warsaw Village Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Warsaw Village Band 

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The tricky thing for any group like the Warsaw Village Band, who exclusively perform old Polish folk music, is it's very easy to come off sounding quaint. But on its latest album, Uprooting (World Village), the sextet continues to pull off its song-preservation mission in style. Concentrating specifically on tunes from the Mazovia province, which were nearly obliterated by communism's antiregional imperatives, the band strikes a balance between the traditional and the contemporary, playing with a dynamic urgency that bears no trace of mustiness. They combine a deeply resonant string section consisting of cello, violin, and suka--an ancient fiddle whose strings are stopped not with the fingertips but with the nails--with pummeling drums, dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy, and the striking bialy glos, a piercing scream once used by mountain-dwelling shepherds to communicate over long distances. A number of like-minded guests, including the excellent Lipsk Women's Choir, thicken the group's already substantial sound with wonderfully strident harmonies and counterpoint. The band's debut, People's Spring, incorporated some clunky house beats, and they try again here: a handful of songs feature cuts from DJ Feel-X, while others are interwoven with scratchy old vinyl recordings. But the Warsaw Village Band is electrifying enough to get the job done without the electronics. Sat 5/20, 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

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