Monday, March 22, 2010

The ___________ Orkestra

<---Orkestra violinist/vocalist/harmonicist (is that a word?) and leader, Jorge Kachmari

The Underscore Orkestra arrived around 10 o'clock yesterday morning, even as a thick late-season snowshower fleeced the newly springtime landscape surrounding VPR's Colchester studios.

They were a little surprised to see the snow (so was I). There isn't much of that kind of thing in Portland, OR, the place they call home. The ensemble is on tour in our area this week and we were happy to host them in a few live sets before they headed over to Burlington's Radio Bean for another engagement in the evening.

For the two or so hours after their arrival Robert Resnik talked with the Orkestra, shared some favorite tunes, and got ready for the afternoon's live broadcast during All The Traditions. We learned about the long tradition of Roma music, why a dumbek's name is onomotopoaeic, and just what it takes to make a guitar sound like a cymbalom (the Hungarian national instrument). We also witnessed the surprising transformation of one of the studio plastic waste buckets into a creditable bass drum. Flip over, add pedal, add stabilizer, and - VoilĂ !

(Need a bass drum? Nah, you just need a good trash can and a pedal)--->

Behind the scenes our audio engineer Chris Albertine was doing real-time training with Kyle, one of his students at Champlain College. They prepared all of the mics and the recording setup and carefully monitored the mix as the Underscore Orkestra played.

For my part? I had it rough. I listened, and enjoyed!

As for the name: they were without one for so long when they first got started together, they became so used to the __________ that usually preceded 'Orkestra' that they decided that was their name.

Keep an eye out here. I'll be posting many more pictures and the audio from the concert soon.

(The Underscore Orkestra plays tonight at 8 at Langdon Streete Cafe in Montpelier, and then they're on to Montreal this Thursday.)

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