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A little gypsy, a little rock ‘n’ roll

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By Russ Gordon

   This is a big weekend for music fans in Los Alamos. At Ashley Pond on Friday night we have the high-energy, theatrical and eclectic European folk music of the Fishtank Ensemble. Starting around 11 a.m. Saturday, right after the County Fair and Rodeo Parade, we’ll have some rock ‘n roll with Taos favorite, the Jimmy Stadler Band.

Around 1:30 p.m. we’ll have the L.A. favorite, the Los Alamos Big Band and at 7 p.m. at the Posse Lodge (Posse Shack in North Mesa) the Española Valley’s great western swing band, Fiddlin’ Doc Gonzalez and the Orange Blossom Express will perform.

   The Fishtank Ensemble live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are becoming well-known for their gypsy tunes, swing, jazz and folk melodies from Romania, Serbia, Italy, Transylvania, Holland, Slovakia, Turkey and the Balkans. The L.A. Weekly calls them “cross pollinated gypsy music ... one of the most thrilling acts on the planet.”

The band has two violins, a stand-up slap-bass player, musical saw, flamenco and gypsy guitars, trombone, accordion and banjolele. They also sing opera, jazz and gypsy vocals. It’s rock ‘n roll and great country, except it’s from different countries.

    The Fishtank Ensemble’s biography says their lead singer Ursula Knudson lived in Italy for two years and sang opera on the streets and town squares until she discovered a love of gypsy music.

Their French violinist traveled all around Europe in a handmade mule-drawn caravan for 10 years, collecting music and experiences.

Their Serbian bassist (known by many as the world’s best slap-bass player) has spent time playing with gypsies as well as some rock and roll legends. The guitarist is a master of flamenco and gypsy jazz, honing his craft in the gypsy caves of Granada, Spain.

The Fishtank Ensemble is getting rave reviews for their performances all over the country.

   The Los Alamos County Fair and Rodeo starts with the parade at 10 a.m. Saturday on Central Avenue.

It’s a wonderful parade and it’ll feature the rodeo queen and her court plus lots of cars, friends, cowboys and cowgirls. After the parade passes our stage, the Jimmy Stadler Band will play.

Stadler plays a lot of rock songs that you’ll know, as well as some of his fine original music. Stadler’s been playing on our stage for 15 years. They play that good old rock and roll, the music down in your soul.

At 1:30 p.m. the Los Alamos Big Band will perform. They’ll play the music of Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Hoagy Carmichael, Fats Waller and other great dance music from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. All this music is at Ashley Pond.

 After the Big Band plays we’ll move to the Posse Lodge in North Mesa, near the rodeo grounds. At 7 p.m. the Summer Series sponsors will present a barbecue dinner and country dance with Fiddlin’ Doc Gonzalez and the Orange Blossom Express.

They played the first concert that I ever produced, in 1988, and I’ve always enjoyed the band. They also have played for the Series many times. The friends of the Posse Lodge will prepare the barbecue.

On Aug. 20 we’ll be at Del Norte Credit Union with one of the wildest bands in all of rock, Nick Curran and the Lowlifes.

The band is like a fusion of the styles of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and the incredible punk band, the Ramones. Obviously not all will dig this concert but a whole lot of you will scream that this is a gas.

Punk music has been around forever; we just started calling it that in the mid- 70s. Almost all of us have a little bit of punk in us; Mozart and Beethoven had it; Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, the Stones and the Clash were punks. I’ll talk more about the show next week. I’ve been thinking about it since February and it’ll soon be here.

    In the meantime, I suggest you check out www.fishtankensemble.com and www.myspace.com/fishtankensemble. Read about the Los Alamos Big Band at www.hendricksonline.com/photo5.html and at www.facebook.com, then click “search” for “Los Alamos Big Band.”

 Read about Jimmy at www.jimmystadler.com and www.myspace.com/jimmystadler. Sorry, but the Orange Blossom Express doesn’t have a Web site.