Raise Your Glass to Juana Ghani!

With the popularity of bands like Gogol Bordello, the question is inevitable.

What are the similarities between Punk and traditional Gypsy music? After seeing Juana Ghani, a local gypsy-cabaret band perform at Liquid Joe’s, I think I’ve got some answers.

1) Both the punk scene and gypsy caravans are made up of people who are thought to be (‘civilized’) society’s outcasts. With the punk kids you’ve got people who pierce parts of their body that traditionally weren’t pierced, kids who wear way too much black, and wtf–can’t you sew your clothes? Who walks around with such terrible looking clothes?!? And then with the gypsies you’ve got all sorts of stereotypes about how gypsies would steal from anyone and were generally untrustworthy. Gypsies traveled among themselves and never quite fit in with ‘civilized’ society. Now, this thought goes on to make point number

2)Both gypsies and punks tend to make music for the people. Songs from both genres tend to have overarching themes such as not conforming and alcohol.

3)Because of this “music for the people” element–crowd involvement is necessary, though the format in which this happens is different between the two. With the gypsy music, you’ve got a celebratory atmosphere (even with the depressing songs!) that, ideally, should make the actual separation of audience/performer almost moot. Have you seen any live videos of Gogol Bordello/Eugene Hutz? The man’s insane. Manic. And the fact that the performers are onstage having a blast encourages the audience to do the same and suddenly–everybody is part of this bigger, celebratory atmosphere. And then there’s punk. In smaller venues/garages, there is no separation. Stage? What’s that? plus there’s the stage diving which happens BY the performers, and thus the stage/audience separation doesn’t exist.

4) The final element I’ll bring out here (though I’m sure there are more. Submit your additions in the comments!) is that after an awesome show, you stand in the audience, overwhelmed by a feeling of awesome. And suddenly you’re like, holy shit–it would be fun to do this myself! You may not follow that thought up with action, but imagining yourself being part of either genre would more than likely give you a pause.

I think one of the main differences between the two genres, really, is appropriate venue. When I think punk, I think the dive-of-a-venue plastered with stickers and graffiti. And last night at Liquid Joe’s, I felt like the indoor venue just didn’t work for Juana Ghani. The celebratory thing would be so much better outside on a summer evening, possibly in a tent at a local beer festival! The point is–gypsy music definitely makes you want to be outside. But now that winter’s setting in, that’s not going to be easily doable. So I look forward to seeing Juana Ghani in the summer (though I’ll see ’em again, I’m sure.)

The show at Liquid Joe’s last night was definitely an adventure. Juana Ghani is a band based out of Riverton, UT, that has several talented musicians–Currently there are 6 players in the band–vocals, guitar, accordion, drums, mandolin, and euphonium. The band played several original songs, as well as some traditional, and over the course of the evening sang in a few different languages, including english, spanish, and perhaps some italian? Hungarian? I lost count of the languages. And funny enough, the language rarely mattered, the music translated everything, and it was impossible not to fall in love with the music. It’s easy to see that they’re influenced by artists such as Gogol Bordello and Tom Waits. Though the music is amazing and all sorts of fun, there’s a definite element of storytelling in each song which only adds to my enjoyment of the band. I appreciate people who can tell a story, and I appreciate them even more when they can take a story and add instruments to it!

And did I mention that Juana Ghani is friends with a local belly dancing troupe? Between the music and the entrancing/seductive moves of the Black Star Bellydancers, it was impossible not to get into the spirit. The only complaint I really had about the show is the same thing that I have with every show which involves a dance floor. You know what I’m talking about. You go to a show and there’s always that ONE person who gets on the dance floor who really, really shouldn’t. Yeah…that happened. And multiplied. But hey, fun was had, and ultimately, that’s what counts.

If you’re looking for some good local music to groove to, and have a tendency towards gypsy music/cabaret, then Juana Ghani is a band you’re going to want to look out for. Follow them on their website, and find them on facebook! Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Also, if you want to listen to their music now (and you should!) be sure to visit their reverb nation site. Some of the tunes you’re going to want to listen to: Raise Your Glass, The Incredible Sadness of Sonia, What Did I Know. Oh…and if you like fire…definitely listen to Watch it all Burn

And by the time you finish those….my bet is you’ll want more. The good news? There are still more songs on that website! So listen to them all. (And keep in mind–as good as their music is online….they’re even more fun live!)


3 thoughts on “Raise Your Glass to Juana Ghani!

  1. Nick (Accordion) December 16, 2010 / 8:44 pm

    Thank you so much for your kind words! We’re glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Brian December 17, 2010 / 8:34 am

    Nice commentary on the punk/gypsy mindset. Thank you for writing such a great little story on us. We all had a lot of fun, I’m glad you came out.

  3. Christopher (drums) December 20, 2010 / 4:18 am

    Thanks for the nice review. We had an amazing time.

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