On a Wednesday night, the cozy Anacortes tavern was magically transformed into a Parisian basement cafe right before the eyes of the crowd of appreciative listeners.
That’s right folks, on November 15th, the four piece “apocalyptic junk jazz” band currently residing in Snoqualmie transported the crowd far, far away. The band consists of Bobbi DiTrani on banjo, accordion, and main vocals, Walker DiTrani on guitar, Dana Hubanks on backing vocals and washtub bass or as I’ve heard it referred to, gut bucket, and Eddie Gaudet on drums.
As is their tradition, the band started into their set of 20’s and 30’s jazz tunes and jugband music with Bobbi on banjo. His high, intense, and somewhat hoarse singing voice blended well with Dana’s harmonies on the first bluesy number. On the next tune, Walker’s excellent guitar playing accentuated the swinging gypsy jazz offering. When you look at the band, they appear a little scruffy, flannel shirts, wool beanies, but once they start playing, you realize what superb musicians they are.
While more people filed into the mid-week show, the band churned their way through some great old gangster jazz tunes full of fast, clean guitar licks. They then slowed the tempo down with a mysterious, tune featuring nice vocal harmonies, and a flashing banjo riff. Their command of dynamics through the set was truly impressive. A dreamy jazz tune from the 20’s quickly was transmorphed with snappy fast guitar playing from Walker. A couple more well executed gypsy jazz songs, and their first set came to an end. By this time the room was beginning to fill up with people out on a Wednesday night to catch some great music.
During the break, I was able to talk with Bobbi about the band. He mentioned that they formed several years ago in North Bend, and then for some unspecified reason, moved to Vermont. There they worked at various farms and met Eddie, who has recently moved to the Northwest. They all live in Snoqualmie, and play at the Black Dog Arts Cafe on a regular basis. Their performance at the Brown Lantern was the tail end of their West Coast tour.
For the second set, Bobbi swapped out his banjo for an accordion, and the content of the music changed. Rather than the offerings of jaunty, early 20th century jazz tunes, their sound was decidedly more European. The first tune had a dramatic Italian stop and start rhythm. The next one was faster moving with a great lilting swing, peppered with fine guitar and accordion playing. While the beery air of the Brown was filled with romantic, swaying melodies, several couples got up and began waltzing in the small space by the front door we refer to as the dance floor. With the accordion and guitar trading riffs, people dancing smoothly nearby, and the warmth of the weathered brick walls all around, the pleasant vibe that this kind of music generates in small cafes in Europe where it was created filled the Brown.
All too soon, they finished their set, and the reality that I was up much later on a week night than normal meant I needed to head home. On my way out I thanked the band, and asked them about their gig the next night at the Conway Muse. Bobbi said they had ever been there before. I couldn’t help but smile when thinking about how the funky, converted hay barn in Conway would surely also be transformed by the competent and talented four some from North Bend. I am so thankful that we have venues in our region that are willing to support artists of this caliber.
Check out this video of them performing one of their songs, “Through the Wastes”
Entertainment Writer Mark Perschbacher…A man who will cross great barriers to find exceptional music, art, food, and beer. Mark is a long time Skagit County resident, contributor to, and supporter of local arts.