Fishtank Ensemble

Posted July 30, 2009 in

While Eastern European “gypsy” music isn’t usually found on your XM dial—and almost never on your iPod—the purveyors of exotic Transylvanian excess have recently begun descending on Claremont. It started with the gypsy punkers Gogol Bordello at Pomona’s Fox Theatre in May, and now, the Romanian-tinged stylings of Fishtank Ensemble have emigrated to the Village’s Folk Music Center, bringing with them the jumpy, plucky darkness of Slavic culture. Not content with their gypsy motif alone, these half-dozen or so musicians also specialize in an array of other fringe music—Japanese folk, klezmer (a Yiddish-derived wailing song), flamenco, and the more recognizable French jazz. The instrumentation needed to bring this music to life is often as unusual as the composition itself; while frontwoman Ursula Knudson smooches the mic and wields her violin and/or saw, the boys are busy winding up accordions, a slap bass, shamisen, trombone, trumpet and banjolele. Formed in Oakland in 2004, the band members themselves are even an amalgamation of culture—French, Serbian, American and a former member who now performs solo as Duckmandu (an IE Weekly “Pick of the Week” in ’06). But while the lineup seems to change a bit—as would be expected with a passion-driven project that is clearly more about love than paying the bills—the sound of Fishtank Ensemble never weakens, seeming to adapt to every next metamorphosis. What else would you expect from a gang of nomadic gypsies?


Fishtank Ensemble at the Claremont Folk Music Center, 220 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 624-2928; Sat, Aug. 1, 7:30PM. $12.


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