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The Writers Block - with Ron Knight
The Writers Block - with Ron Knight

Episode · 2 months ago

Bandoleros Songwriting Mixes Up the World Beat

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Chicago-based Bandoleros sit down with Ron Knight in the New York City Studios to talk about their unique, local but global fusion, a true World Music phenomenon, known for its spicy blend of musical styles that get people up on their feet. With Middle Eastern, Spanish flamenco and Latin flavors, with a unique, eclectic repertoire in such diverse languages as Arabic, English, Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Turkish, Bandoleros’ spirited, get-up-and-dance music has resulted in sold-out performances in popular clubs and concert venues worldwide. 

Be On the road for a while or what'shappening. Well, we had a show in in Detroit two days ago. We had to go backto Chicago, and we got here yesterday just yesterday and you're here in NewYork. For a few days and yeah, we got a show case going on on Thursday night, which that would be nine o'clock at the village undergroundm village under ground nine o'clock Thursday, and this is to celebrate abrand new release of a brand new CD. I, Oh yes, yes, that's a that's at thename of his in the name is Maxa Maximo Maximo, that's great, and that was thetitle track. Wasn't it a track? One from that CD, which me the one you justplayed? Well, it's IT'S NOT THAT YEAH! First, it's the first track on the CD,because I know I heard it now, it's the last track. It's lost track of themaximum that that it's going to be. Oh, it is a last rock in Maximo Huh, not inBande little and bundle it's in an yeah you're right, it's in the first firstRintho he is. I get it! You're, releasing allof your tracks all at once on a variety of different CDs, yea, so got keepingguys like me completely confused. That's all right, that's a great tune.It smacks a little bit of Gypsy kings. Doesn't it just a Tad, youmight say a little distills Guy, the style? It's just like style that we mixit with everything I mean Spanish, Guita, vanishing yeah. I got threeguitars here folks for those of Bo who can't see we in the studio we got threeguitars. We got one base, you guys are huge, got a set drum player. We got apercussion us, we get a piano and keyboard player, seven of you alltogether and basically at first it says that you were inspired by the byartists such as the Gipsy Kings, and I guess you give some homage to the lateTito Pointe to some degree, and but yet all of you are from all over the worldyou're kind of evolved to create this distinct repetoire, combiningrhythmical, styling and voicings from where you got the Caribbean, and herethe Mediterranean mixes in here, and yet all of you are from whelp some ofyour Assyrian, RIA, Assyrian. Some of you are Venezuelan. I am from Venezuelaand have you on sales. I I, the drummer have have have a b beer. He had aVenezuela and then some of you are Cuban. No, no, yes! Well, yes, thekeyboard player, Dar dos from Cuba and Ecuador who's from Ecuador. That'sJohnny, YOU'RE DAVID! This is, you know I can ever get the Beatles namestraight either. Don't feel bad, you know say which one of you is Ringo,okay, so I would be me that, and- and somebody is from Russia-that's Egor- how are the base player? Okay, that's Egor, VINAC, right fromRussia, okay, so how the heck did you guys all meet then? And what are youdoing in Chicago? I know: That's all! That's a top! Okay! Let me let mesimplify this. What are you doing in Chicago where we do we we play inChicago in the night clubs- and we were very, very famous- you guys are liketaking Chicago but most like three nights a week hand like we get together, and you know whatwe're like we're different and play. What did you play? We were. Okay.Did you basically last year, four of the guys they joined the band me and Johnny, and my brother usher.Those are the main guys that we and we since in ninety seven, so you threestarted the band yeah, so that would be johnny and we SAM and and ashore lastyear, and you two her brothers Ashera Isam. Yes, okay and you're, not you'rethe cousin yeah. Well, you call cousin...

...or Fred there's that's a little verythat's a pot music joke, but that's a in all right. So the three of youstarted, the band yeah and the last year actually have your with the oldestmore than a year he's been playing the guys. You know we just we had it. Weneeded at a player. We had to get do some changes, so you found a biginternational eclectic group, I small parts of the globe. So what did you putout something on the Internet saying looking for world musicians orsomething or would it really just on? You know an ad a and in a in any newspaper at Yeah. So all therest of you who joined later were you living in Chicago. Is that the idea youwere already there and then you all decided to join in on this? That I meanjust some making some connection phone call stuff like that, like ego, it was Asher and day David followed himin the Hitara. He was just practicing there around a sudden. It comes and joythe IT happens. I guess you can find musicians in a music store iwhat inChicago, like a lot of musicians, the they would love to play with Bandoleros,even for free. They just want to be with that wow they're popular that were,I want to be with you and I'm not even the point we got I'd like to actuallygo back to Chicago for a while. Frankly, I think it great Chicago is a greatcity. What a great town that is, Huh it really he uses. Send you application.Oh okay, yeah! I can like hold a microphone, cable or something O I playand play roading for you, Guy Chicago everywhere. You go the you know,bandelets yeah every place you go like we just say you know where's thegreatest band that I want to see all Bandoleros they're playing in that andthe net or you could visit their website and you guys are playing aboutwhat three nights a wee night a week. Sometimes four, sometimes five, becausewe get a lot of private parties, yeah and festivals number thing, and do youhave a regular club that tends to be kind of where they will most often tofind you? Well, I'm sure everybody knows about x, Calaber, X, caliber,Sure Car Culler is just about the biggest club. There is in Chicago UhHuh, it's about it's four levels of music for main stages: It's located centrally in downtownChicago and we're playing there every Thursday. Now every Thursday and we'll be playingthere. We will start over the the twenty fourth of July good and we mightwe might play over there more than once a week yeah before you know, you'llhave all four floors before yeah before you know it yea. You just have to ripsome stages out and just let let it all show case up to the top, and you guyswill be up on the fourth level playing down everybody down in the bowels ofthe building right yeah be a mob scene. That's right! You're! Getting there,that's good! So let me ask you, then, if you're kind of like you, you, gentlemen,were originally from or you're originally a Syria in that Seriosha,and so that's that's all! We've all we've been through this we've beenthrough the roll call and then really quickly. Then all of you were musiciansfor a while in your own native countries. Is that what it was and howlong have you all been living in the United States yeah? Well, let's goaround really quickly. How long have you been here, Edward of the keyboardplayer from Cuba. You've been here for four years: Okay and then ego fromRussia on Bass. You've been here for how long eleven years, okay, you're anative American, already all right. You can cross that line. You know that'sseven year cycle and then you know it's like you're, a lifer, okay, Yean. Have Your I've been in the statesfor twelve years now, twelve years on seven years in Chicago now: Okay, goodand David S, your native Chicago Nok, David onGuitar, interesting good. What else do you guys have for what else do you feellike playing I've been here for Twenty Years Twenty years? Well, you're theYEP. So then, where does that mean? Where were you originally born? Andwhere were you originally raised? I was well while I was raised and I mean Iwas born in Iraq. UHHA wow, but you know I've been here for like I lovethat country for twenty five years. So...

...boy, then do we have a little bit totalk about that? Don't we because you're probably been watching, what'sbeen going on for this past year and just I'm sure you have all kinds ofmixed mixed reviews over what's been happening, yeah also because you're, both in arock all three of you, then right, but actually like we said we're a Syrians.It's so we're part of the. They are part of aminority Huh minority population in within Iraq. There's a teria who isn't these days,yeah a Syrian start, the sentence of Babylonians Yeah and the sentence ofBabylon wow and they're, mainly Christian Huh,within the most, mostly Muslim population, H in Iraq. So they are aminority in Iraq and the the show brothers and Johnnythey're. All Syrians wow. We have a bigger syrium found a biggest Assyrian following in Chicago and Detroit in Michigan, where there is a lot ofMiddle Eastern people. Is the bundles are huge over there wow. So you reallyhave got a very defined audience as well as an audience that it's kind oflike a core yeah within a larger universe. Yeah. Well, you know inChicago we have a great audience and a great following of Eastern Europeanpeople love the band a lot of African American people, Lovethe band love the music of the band sure, because it's like a dance beatwith the Spanish guitars yeah. You know it really is a world global mix, isn'tit and the Latinos like it too, because they are dentified as mating it? Youknow so yeah, I something kind of similar to them. They can dance to it,yeah so yeah the thing when we started, we played a lot of the Gypsy king. Wewere really crazy about those guys, so we start playing their music and stufflike that. You know after two or three years you're going to come up. You canstart coming up with your own feelings and your own, but in the same category,so what we did it just it happened. We started mixing all these things andthese guys they showed up. You know from Cuba, from Venzuela fromRussia and this and that equal or so we start mixing the okay. Can we play thesong as in like a salsa, with some meditare sound? Or can we come up withthis and that's what we did and that's where we became a little bit differentof the Gypsy King and our crowd? It just start being more mcmix completelymixed more globe, and the thing is the thing about the BANNET: it's not like asalsa that you got to be really a good dancer it just you got to just move,it's so easy to move that. There's no rules! There is no! YOU gotta! You gota dance like this. You got to do that. No, no! It's so simple and easy yeah.This is a little of everything. So, however, anybody wants to dance itworks. I was it was, it is so easy and it was so easy and so like quick yeah, to learn well, okay, thenmy next question because obviously you've taken all of these elements inthe styles and the feelings and the flavors, and you put them all together.You can't just say one two, let's all play somebody has got to beorchestrating this or organizing it. So I understand you have song writers andsome of you are the song writers on conoposis on the groups right. Who isthat most? It's us, so all of you, together, Ali music, wise my brother,he he arranged them. You an so johnny yearthat you're the arranger, no, he I sure, as near anger, I'll get all thesebrothers. You know, I know, because in audio land they can't see who I'mpointing to every time. I say you: I got listeners at going you who so asheryou're you're the song writer, okay, we come up with melodies us, the threeall three of you, okay and then he brings the song and, like he justarranged him put the music in it right, but basically for the next. He D thatwill come up with hopefully end of this year. See likethese. These guys they gonna. They got...

...us some ideas to m like have yer andand Dago yes or ego, or so the next, the next song writers within the clanare emerging. It would be nice to have the you know the whole Ma Hall Bandworks yeah, you know everybody's opinion, it would be cool and some ofthem will hey. I got of this idea. What do you think? Okay, let's, let's makeit happen, good good, so it's definitely working so the next songyou're going to play for us who is the one who's penned this? Who the nextsong it's gonna, be we call it a baby, my love, okay and actually me and mybrother. We came up with the with this and this and how bbowne like an Arabicor yeah. It is, and I love yeah what that's, what it means: Yeah Nice, how beby very cool my lovein Arabic and what a great great you guys, you know, is percussionist. Youguys are rather infectious. You know how you kind of all work together likethat. Thank you, because, even with the three stringed instruments on theacoustic guitars, you guys are really blaring it out and really becoming veryprocessive in those drums. It's all part of that processive FLAMENCO,Mediterranean fusion thing it's a ill. What you do work together, yeah becausehave yer he's, also Conga player and a Tom Bali player yeah,and you do that all once I understand I do. I do all this stuff and you cansmoke a cigarette at the same time with my toe under water. I am highlyimpressed. Thank you was better, if fact were bringing in the hoses intofilling your drum chamber and just the next five minutes, we're going to seehow you do it. Don't it'll come out of video an like this song. We mixed it in Arabic,Hans to versus in Arabic and in one verse itwas in Spanish Yeah. Also, that's very neat now you guys, in addition to theway that you mix global music together between the Arabic and the inflamingand the Caribbean, everything you have actually been able to recently. You hada fairly significant accomplishment for doing what you do. Didn't you, you guys are all kind of nodding andalso what is what is it? What happened? We earned Chicago Music Awards for best representation on world, music andChicago, and we beat Columbia College in Chicago, which is aprivate institution and they fund. They found a lot of a lot of international and WorldCultural Events, but the van Doleros with the music and what was the otherone, the mitout I I can't remember two orthree very important instit tions in Chicago towns. Okay, all right sinceyou don't remember what your important situations where May I do this for youall right, I have them written. I mean that's that I'd be more than happy tohealth. That's very important! I know that. Okay, all right! This is the dealthis group, the Bandoleros, has recently received the prestigious, Imight say, Chicago. Music Award for contribution to world beat music forthe Year of two thousand and three yeah okay and bottom line here is that you were upagainst, as you've mentioned the long standing institutions of ColumbiaCollege, which I think is a fairly reputable college in the area. It'svery reputable and no sliding to them W B E Z, F M, which is also a worldstation. I guess they program a lot of world music and cultures and the OldTown School of folk music, who you were also up against, and the bottom line isthat you have won this coveted award further, testifying to the impact thegroup has had on the international music scene. How's that you you just Imean you read it you're bet. I read it just fine yeah, I know, but I mean thebottom line is that you guys are really...

...doing a significant dent in the worldmusic scene, which is kind of neat. You've also did something recentlyabout this, some something you did at a festival a while back having to do withwomen's groups. Did I see something go by in your history or so somethingphenomenal that you kind of anchored? What was that about it? One of theChicago Magazines Yeah, okay, Woman Magazine Chicago Woman, Magazine Yeah.What are you doing with the Chicago Women? Well, we're doing we're doing alot of guys, knock it off. Just knock it off we're doing a lot of things o wecan talk now you can talk, yeah nobody's listening, well, Johnny, Johnny, Johny, Shoppin, dor,lead singer was chosen. What's the chosen one out ofall the singles in the group to appear in the in the magazine and be chosen asone of the single people see what they did, a Chicago magazine put out a showfor singles in Chicago okay, now wait a minute! Is this like one of thosethings we say the most available sing single or so that they like to catchavailable that we you're like the most eligible bachelor most eligiblebachelor? is you johnny the Assyrian Singer from Bandoleros who is thesongwriter and vocalist and they see you as most available and all ofChicago? How was the second highest bed the second highest, then a well praytell who is? Who is first S, some rich guy, some rich guy with a lot of money and some some someboring millionaire right like that, with a boat a little little dry?Perhaps I can have this really cool sexy singerfrom the world music band right yeah, so so here's that that was kind of anunawarded. I guess now they didn't do a pin up on you. Did they johnny as amatter of fact? Yes, they did. They showed his picture way. I asked him howcome you're doing all the talking for him? Well, because you know becausehe's too shy, he she all right. Okay, so have omission me to talk for him.Haveris filling in the is have, I should say, have your have? You have,as is filling in your blanks, your bud. That's what's going on! Well, heremembers everything! That's why, but seriously now what else is going onyou're playing you're, making the festival circuit, though too aren't youlike the fenel life is coming up or something? Oh. Do you O ye acconfestival, it's going to be in great America and we're doing opening forjunior Gito, Pente, right, you're, playing and you're playing atGreat America yeah, which is an amusement park? Six flags amusement Poles thou we'renot going to say that now, let's just let's just call it an amusement park,that's okay and you're playing your opening for a junior tito, pointe or aTito Point: e Junior! That's another! That's another and Juliet okay, so you guys aregetting so busy. You CAN'T KEEP TRA! You can't keep track of all thefestivals that you're telling so, basically as an indication of howyou guys are getting around it sounds like you're playing the festival oflife. You've got an African, Caribbean, International Music Festival in Chicagothe Arab Communities Concert of colors and which I guess is a festival inDetroit, and then you have a Latin Music Festival and Juliet Illinois anda Mexican festival at six flags. Great America and Garny Illinois allrepresented and presented by univision in the Spanish broadcast systems la onthe radio station. You guys are getting a lot of actual broadcast support toaren't you you've been on television recently, a couple of times yeah wellfew more yes, yes, Fox nose, STB Celt, ABC yeah, we did. We did. We've done quote quite quite many showsin Chicago we've done: UNDRED N. Ninety North, we did want any north, veryreputable show in Chicago UHHH. It's got about two million viewers. We did Chicago in Wood Bill Campbellright on channel seven. We did N cl TVs, Chicago Land, television andMetromedia, a...

...nice exposin, the Bandoleros. They wentto the place that we were playing and they did a live. My kind of the lightbroadcast nice for the from the Bandoleros, and that was aired aboutfifteen times in Chicago. Also, we've been on a Syrian TV inChicago M in Russian TV in Chicago yes, Polish TV yeah. I was Sersaon Servian M. quite a few. Quite a few TV stationshave stopped by and checked out the show and that's great so it's out yeah.I'm sorry this Matt Affect the tvinde et's global yeah broadcast all around.Like one satellite systems, yeah yeah tears a usenet all right. So what else have you gotfor it? You got UN a tune. You want to play feels about right. We got to playa tune from our second album called Bandolero. It's a bathe: Bandolero,okay, it's half in English and Spanish. So it's going to sound good it'll,sound great I'll, understand more of the English side. I think is a side. So,let's, let's see how it goes, Bandolero great great track! Wonderful!Thank you guys. Thank you! Interesting change in there you're like provingalong in one time, signature not to get to musical and then all of a sudden ona fraction of a dime. You guys change into the next time signature and youdidn't even like do it gently or slowly, you just went bang and you were allthere together. How did that happen? Rehearsal, yeah, but I mean do you guyshave a formula for that? I mean, in other words, when I mean do you, Iguess you just have your biological clock set. So if you're like grovingalong at one tempo and then you just go bang and go into the next one, you guysall know where that's going to be a. We set that up in rehearsal, we sit downfigure it out how it's going to fall down. Is there a mathematical secret toit? Not really so you don't like. I wish I wish you was yeah. It's not likeyou're switching automatically to cut time or something because it wasn't. No,it wasn't co time. No, it's just! I just do it. THAT'S A NEAT! THAT'S VERYNEAT! That's great! So if you could obviously you know, you've beentogether since ninety seven you're on this rapid curve. Here it is twothousand and three you're getting international awards like crazy you're,starting to do a tour thing. You're. Obviously, here in New York City,you've got a new CD COMING OUT MAXIMO WITH A showcase party this Thursdaynight. Yes, where, where do you go after here? What's the big plan where'syour tour? Well, is there plans for a big tour? Are wetraveling going well just going back to Chicago and do those a few festivalsthat yeah those few festivals aren't so few of those and they're? Not so youknow not so mine, but a lot of work ahead of us. We just finished this, this corpulationMaximo M and we go back to Chicago get back into the studio start recording again and, as we somesaid at the end of Ye, I think ye at the end of the year, W D we would liketo have another album ready brand new material, so that would be like five orsix months from now. Yes, wow, that's smoking, twelve to fifteen songs! Brine.How long did you take you to put Maximo together about three to four months? A pot formyeah three to four Huh, but we took our time. We took our time yeah our sweettime, good and just the reason of making maximum, because we had somechanges in the band in the players and in theproduction that we did, that it wasn't...

...really really good. So we had to wewanted to do this change and that's why we came up with it Maximo that is going to be mixed ofthose two cries and just so our listeners know if they were looking forMaximo, which is being released this Thursday. What label should they be?What labeler is it on? Well, that's why we're in New York were haslinger looking for a deal on aS, we're hoping yeah? Well, you came to the right city I'll, give you a deal ready now you guys, I'm sure you be fine,want to just put it up on the Internet and let people download everything forfree and then no make it. Do I didn't say that, okay, so that's not an idea.Forget that okay, but then this next CD that you want to do then obviouslyyou're going into the studio and you're doing the studio scene a lot, so itdoesn't sound like you've got a label who's underwriting. You Are you footingyour studio time and costs all your saying, it's dependable on the band everything onwow. So what do you guys do? A LOT OF BAKE sales? Cookies, how do you raiseyour funds to cover that studio cost? We played three nights a week, threenights a week. We all right, okay for some good money, so you're doing it soyou're doing it the way you're supposed to do it get a lot. As you see, we geta lot of that's why we get a lot of respond for people, and you know theysupport. The man bind some this by the CD people love the CD listeners by theCD find it go, get it everybody go through of these cities. For these guys, that's great, but this maximum wasgoing to be distributed in in we're still we're still finalizing thedetails on it, but it's going to be distributed in Chicago and an outsideof a ton yeah in the Midwest, probably nationwide in one of the major rerecord record, store labels recordstores, chains good, and if you want information for that, you can go to W WD Bandoleros Com, and you will find information where to find the CD okay,so for Osois are really going to start to follow these guys every wherethey're going you going to join the Bandoleros clan okay, it's www dot,bandaleros com. Yes, like it sounds B, a n D, O l e R Roscom Bondale, and theycan find out everything, including how to get to where you're going to be yeah.You can even buy in the webs. You can buy it from the website. I mean not you,no I'm not going to buy them all. Do you know how many CDs I would have tobuy? Just you guys can like be able to pay the cost of your next CD. I can'tafford to buy my own CD, he won by twenty thirty and a year CDs come on.You get you go. You get a free one, a Freebie thank a free. Do you guysmerchandise yourselves? You must aver, you know you got t shirts and jacketsand all that stuff and you get the bandoleros caps a you get thebandoleros guitar picks got one hey, that's a cool cat turn around. That's great! You know the problem withwhere in the caps backwards there johnny is that you know people can'tthey're too busy. Looking at your forehead, they can't see the cool logo.You know you can have to tattoo that logo into your forehead and then that apeople see it in the front. So I have the where's the shirt where's, theshirt who's got the shirt. NO NONE OF US NONE! You guys are wear in theshirts Leigh. Well, that's probably good, because you don't want to looklike a fast food chain of Peru. Like that yeah, that's cool! You guys are soundingreally really good. I'm going to really hope, and I do I wish you all the bestof success. I think you guys are really a great great nanon kind of like a mixof everything, all the best worlds that that world music has to offer, and Ithink you guys are certainly you're on to better things. Bigot of you lookpeople out here, clapping guys, take a...

...look behind you everybody's digging!This. Thank you great. Thank you! Wonderful! That's Kontala, Dumba fromBandelero Johnny, Ma Gashan on meat, vocals guitar was some show on lead,vocals and songwriter and percussionist. We got a Shures, also the brother onguitar and have a beard Gonzales. Why am I saying you messing up your name soof it's? Okay, it's! Okay! It's coming EDWARDO ON KEYBOARDS! How are you man,it's great to see you David, also on Rhythm Guitar over here and Ego or onthe base? You guys are just sounding great folks. This has been Bondelle Ros.You can catch them generally, all the time Tuesday and Saturday nights atPasha out there in Chicago land, Thursday nights at ex caliber and, ofcourse the accent cafe. Also, in Mount Prospect- generally, I guess the firstFriday of the month you're going to be here in New York at the villageunderground nine pm for your CD release, party Maximo and just to touch basesonce again on all the media acclaim you guys have been winning in addition tothat. Two Thousand: A D three Chicago Music Award, Janet Davy's of ABC Sevens,one and ninety north says Chicago's, most ECLECTIC band how's that that'swhat this is. That's what they say: a guaranteed good time from Fox News,bring your dancing shoes from the Chicago scene and again to check yourwebsite listeners check these guys out: WWW dot, bandoleros com, guys! Thankyou ever so much for joining you you're welcome. Thank you thanks. Thank you.

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