May 20, 2009

Vagabond Opera: The Zeitgeist Beckons

Vagabond Opera
photo: Alicia Rose

The Zeitgeist Beckons is concept album of sorts - an opera buffa for the cabaret age consisting of four acts (or maybe five) by Vagabond Opera a sextet from Portland, who use 13 different languages in their lyrics, cover Edith Piaf, Tom Waits, Dmitri Shostakovich and Jacques Brel, and generally let rip like they did when Weill and Brecht were the kings of the roaring Twenties.

This is an album that can serve as a treasure hunt for music geeks trying to find all the references - the easy ones are Verdi's Traviata and Grieg's Peer Gynt. The bulk of the material however are originals. The album seems to be about a professor trying to create a female golem in the catacombs of Paris , or the Belgian revolutionary Antony Antwerp Canniere who rans into Cyrano de Bergerac, (Anton's brother shows up too, bur he is actually a Bulgarian woman), while in New Orleans the mayor is really pissed that a ganef has run of with his daughter, and Bubbsky, the lonely NOLA ghost, drifts down to Amsterdam and sings the famous Brel song about that lovely city. As Anton exclaims, a bit exhausted after all this: "who is this zeitgeist anyway? "And then his sister punches him in the balls. Yes, that's an opera buffa alright.

The Zeitgeist Beckons ends with an Very Extremely Super Important Legal Disclaimer, but the lawyers ramblings are drowned out by the band tallkin gall at one and making a racket. Who need lawyers when you can have a fun? Don a straw hat, hit a serious bottle of wine and sing along. Odd, addictive, with shredding cellos, bouncy accordion, juicy saxophone, and a nod to Lady Day.

Vagabond Opera:
Eric Stern: operatic tenor, accordion
Robin Jackson: tenor saxophone, vocals
Ewalt "Skip" vonKuske: cello
Jason Flores: standup bass
Mark Burdon: drums
Lesly Kernochan: vocals, alto saxophone

Vagabond Opera: The Zeitgeist Beckons

The Zeitgeist Beckons is a self-released album. Buy it from the band's CD Baby.

  1. Chimaeras Be Met
  2. Welcome to the Opera
  3. Farewell Kabarista
  4. Milord
  5. Tango 'til They're Sore
  6. Mon Amy
  7. Russian Jazz Waltz
  8. Bulgar Romani
  9. Minoushe
  10. Ganef
  11. New Years Eve in a Haunted House
  12. Amsterdam
  13. The Party
  14. Goodnight Moon
  15. Very Extremely Super Important Legal Disclaimer

Live dates:
  • 05/22 The WOW Hall, Eugene, OR
  • 05/23 Stillwater, Ashland, OR
  • 06/06 Hult Center Concert in the Park, Eugene, OR
  • 06/09 Mcmenamins Crystal Ballroom (w Balkan Beatbox), Portland, OR
  • 06/18 San Franscisco Jazz Fest San Franscisco, CA
  • 06/19 The Mystic Theatre, Sonoma, CA
  • 06/20 Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Boonville, CA
  • 06/21 AMNESIA!!! San Francisco, CA
  • 06/23 Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz, CA
  • 06/24 Moody’s Bistro Truckee, CA
  • 06/25 Studio on 4th Reno, Nevada
  • 06/27 Big Sur Spirit Garden, BI Sur, CA
  • 06/28 Ford Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA
  • 07/18 The Triple Door, Seattle, WA
  • 08/06 Los Gatos JCC, Los Gatos, CA


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