By Tyler Grezaffi
It’s surprisingly difficult to discover up-and-coming musical groups and even more of a challenge for them to have a unique sound. This is certainly not because the world lacks musical talent; in fact, the case is quite the contrary. The number of bands that are formed in a given day could easily match the number of people we walk by in that same span of time. Like the children those people may one day have, the growing number of bands give birth to song after song until the population is left with a surplus of fresh music so large that it can’t even keep up.
Yet, because top selling artists are repeated and recycled on popular radio, the geyser of songs right below them goes untapped. It normally takes effort to find the musicians beneath the surface, but on April Fools’ Day, Chelsea’s Cafe will be making the task a bit easier by presenting two bands that both have a different take on traditional genres.
First up at 7:30 p.m. will be Minos the Saint, a home-grown ensemble that regularly performs in the Baton Rouge area. A combining of two pre-existing groups, the band gets its unique play style from merging the singer-songwriter style of guitarist Peter Simon with the atmospheric improvisation of Ben Herrington and Joel Willson’s group, “Spontaneous Combustion.” With the coming together of talents, the band takes on a form that they describe as “chamber folk,” blending classical training with timeless “song of the people” storytelling.
With the recent trend of acoustic bands in what could be called the “Indie folk movement,” Minos the Saint takes the genre one step further with the implementation of unexpected instrument combinations. The mixing of accordion, trombone, keyboard, violin, and guitar may not seem like the smoothest blend on paper, but in their original song, “Let Me Sleep,” the group shows its capabilities of weaving in and out of each other’s musical phrases like a well-choreographed dance.
“Whenever we play, we are really listening to each other,” said keyboardist Ben Herrington.
“We are very much reacting to and complementing what the other musicians are playing.”
Following Minos the Saint will be Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands. In terms of style, it’s as if someone flipped Minos the Saint upside down, turned off the lights, and hired Tim Burton to direct them. Each band compliments each other; yet Bright, who also takes advantage of the accordion (among many other instruments), is certainly the darker side of the same coin. The mood set by Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands makes one feel that they just wandered into the wrong tent of a creepy carnival and decided to embrace whatever evil they found inside.
Bright will certainly be something to watch on Wednesday, as she plays accordion, musical saw, piano, adungu (a Ugandan harp), concertina and Taiko drum. Combine these instruments and the fact that she’s a well-traveled ethnomusicologist and you end up with sounds reminiscent of the artist DeVotchKa alongside themes of haunting requiems.
Both Minos the Saint and Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands will be at Chelsea’s Cafe in Baton Rouge on Wednesday, April 1 at 7 p.m.