FAME Review: Adrian Raso & Fanfare Ciocărlia - Devil's Tale
Adrian Raso & Fanfare Ciocărlia - Devil's Tale

Devil's Tale

Adrian Raso & Fanfare Ciocărlia

Asphalt Tango Records - CD-ATR-4414

Available from Adrian Raso's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The uproarious, way overtalented, humorous, and irresistible Balkan band Fanfare Ciocărlia has been reviewed in these pages (here) but have this time joined up with Canadian banjo bad boy Adrian Raso, who exhibits a temperament somewhere in the Ennio Morricone / Randy Newman / Tom Waits vein sieved through East European highlands, all and sundry going wildly and unashamedly native. Probably drunk too. And, yeah, dig this as well: the Ciocărlians boast not one but TWO tubas! Where else are you going to find THAT??? Nowhere, and you know it. Guitar whiz John Jorgenson (here) sits in as guest on four cuts, so now how much would you pay? How 'bout if I thrown in these ginsu knives on top of it all? Sure, they were used for target practice by these rollicking gypsy hijinxters but so what?

Raso has always been captivated by yarns of the evil ne'er-do-well Dan Scratch meeting desperate musicians at dark crossroads bordering the edge of town but decided to turn what would've been ominous and inky into a joyous octane-fueled rave-up. C'est La Vie is one of the tracks with Jorgenson, and everyone involved gets into a spirited quickstep, Oprica Ivancea's larksome clarinet following behind the proliferation of nimble strings, a song that'll have one and all dancing with roses in their teeth…yep, even the menfolk! It's that kind of romp. Leezard's Lament then turns up and sounds like a drunken blues with the bartender groaning and belching with Spike Jones in the corner.

Unbelievably, though much of the gatherum sounds like a gaggle of cool-ass trad tunes rescued from over-caffeinated talented pranksters and free spirits on four continents, Raso wrote everything his own damn self and easily got funding from the Ontario Arts Council. What the hell? Those goddamned Canucks are kicking our asses in this kinda thing! We bail out bankster criminals through war criminal presidents, and northerners cultivate the arts with their scudi! Haven't they understood the spirit of capitalism? Will someone please send the twin idiots Hayek and von Mises up there to bamboozle 'em upside-down so we can grab hold of a fighting chance? They do this all over Canada, too, the socialist bastards!!!!

But if you, dear reader, can swallow what might be a Rush 'Rough Trade' Limbaugh take on American consciousness for just a little while, you're going to have more fun with Devil's Tale than a gaggle of Arkies on a swozzled snipe hunt, hootin' 'n hollerin' like there ain't no tomorrow, cavorting nekkid in the moonlight until Beelzebub himself appears in the campfire light, head in hands, cursing under his breath and muttering "That damned Raso! I'M RUINED!! Who the hell can do business if everyone laughs and points when I show up in crimson cape and horns? Drat and curse the knave!"

Yep, it's shaping up to be that kind of year for poor Mephistopheles, so perhaps someone will take pity on the soul he doesn't have and forward the magenta madman a copy of this CD. He'll recognize the Night on Bald Mountain section of Django, get his hooves wet, find out that, hmmmmmm, maybe this jacking-everyone-over gig isn't what it was cut out to be, tilt a flagon of moonshine himself, and then join the gypsy conga line, sashaying and hip swaying 'til dawn.

Track List:

  • Urn St. Tavern
  • Swing Sagarese
  • The Absinthe-Minded Gypsy
  • C'est La Vie
  • Quattro Cicci
  • Charlatan's Waltz
  • Devil's Tale
  • Leezard's Lament
  • Café Con Leche
  • Spiritissimo
  • Birelli's Waltz
  • Django
All tracks written by Adrian Raso.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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