Nice One! She’Koyokh Are Back!
…and so are The Banana Sessions!
Saturday 9th February 2019 – 7.30pm
How do you follow that, we thought, after a magnificent 60th celebration in November with the Bevvy Sisters. But up step She’Koyokh, just as they did after our 50th Letham Nights and we are sorted..!
She’Koyokh, as many of you know from first hand experience, are probably the best Balkan & Klezmer outfit in the UK and one of the best anywhere in the world. Returning to Letham, with a full line up this time, the extraordinarily talented Balkan and Klezmer outfit will be sandwiching this gig between two shows with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. When they called us to see if we had a slot, we just couldn’t resist!
And as if that wasn’t enough, we are privileged that the outstanding The Banana Sessions have agreed to open the evening for us. Featuring the legendary and wonderful Roberta Pia, this self-proclaimed ‘Weird Band From Scotland’ were putting together a wee house concert tour and our mutual admiration meant that this was a stick-on as soon as it was suggested!
“One of the finest and most entertaining British-based exponents of global music” (The Guardian).
She’Koyokh is an international virtuosic, versatile and prize-winning band comprising seven expert musicians playing klezmer and traditional music from the Balkans and Turkey.
She’Koyokh has toured the world with highlights at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and festivals in Germany, Hungary, Poland, Cyprus, Spain, the Canary Islands and Norway; WOMAD UK, WOMAD Fuerteventura, Sziget and Pannonica Festivals; Fundación Juan March Madrid, London’s Southbank Centre, Aldeburgh’s Snape Proms and live sessions on BBC Radio.
Four globally acclaimed albums have earned She’Koyokh the reputation as “one of London’s musical treasures playing the best klezmer and Balkan music in Britain” (The Evening Standard). First Dance on Second Avenue was released in 2017 on World Music Network’s Riverboat Records to critical acclaim, receiving a 5 star review in the Evening Standard, 5 stars and Album Choice in fROOTS, 4 stars in the Guardian, 4 stars and Top of the World in Songlines and 4 stars in BBC Music Magazine. She’Koyokh’s previous albums are Wild Goats and Unmarried Women (2014 Riverboat), Buskers’ Ballroom (2011 ARC) and Sandanski’s Chicken (2007 ARC).
With seventeen years absorbing and performing the rich folk music traditions of Jewish Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Balkans, She’Koyokh’s shows bring together the stunning polyphonic melodies and intricate rhythms of Bulgaria, treasured tunes from Serbian villages and exhilarating Gypsy dances from Romania as well as soulful Sephardic songs and klezmer music from Jewish eastern Europe. Added to the mix is an Albanian folk song popular in southern Kosovo, a song from south-west Turkey about wild goats and unmarried women, a love song for a Gypsy girl with penetrating green eyes, a beautiful Armenian song about migration and a Yiddish Swing number from 1950s New York.
The band formed in 2001 with the support of a Millennium Award from the Jewish Music Institute. In 2008 they were awarded first prize in the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam and have been shortlisted twice for Best Group in the Songlines World Music Awards. In 2012 She’koyokh contributed the material for and led performances with the Aurora Orchestra at LSO St Luke’s, St George’s Bristol and the Brighton Dome. In 2019 they will collaborate with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and are currently developing a show with the acclaimed South Indian violinist, Jyotsna Srikanth.
And by the way, She’Koyokh is a Yiddish word meaning “nice one!”
The Banana Sessions are a band. Not just any band either – the sort of band that haunt your dreams with annoyingly catchy melodies, Beatles-esque harmonies and washboard beats. But don’t let that put you off – if Marmite can win the hearts of many, then so can they.
The Banana Sessions exploded onto the Scottish music scene way back when in 2007. Fresh out of music school, Roberta Pia and Calum Wood had met and bonded over tea and bananas and began to write songs about the most mundane topics they could possibly think of – running out of tea bags, the health benefits of bananas, stories about bears in the forest and being chased by imaginary white rabbits. With wild imagination, they stayed up late one night writing their first EP featuring their first ever song, Bananas – they aptly named themselves The Banana Sessions and the rest was history.
Early on, they recorded their Prodigy Medley – more commonly known as their ‘tenuous claim to fame’ – complete with a music video to boot. The Prodigy saw the video, Liam Howlett said ‘That’s really cool. I dig it.’ – and they posted it on their website which saw multiple fans flowing in from Eastern Europe and beyond. One band from Bulgaria even did a cover of The Banana Sessions’ cover of Prodigy songs – how’s that for inception?!
2016 saw the release of The Banana Sessions second album, Be Bold and Brilliant, marking the moment that the band transcended into folkier and more mature territory. You guessed it – they got the band back together, only this time as a stripped back three-piece and with guests Euan Burton and Doug Hough on the record. The Be Bold and Brilliant Tour stormed across the UK in true Banana Sessions style and saw the band stronger than ever. Straight after this, they went back into songwriting mode and spent a weekend in Eyemouth conjuring up a whole batch of new songs and we’ve been keeping them under wraps ever since – until now.
2019 sees the band reform once again with the same stripped back classic line-up of vocals, guitar, percussion and plenty of harmonies with some brand-new material, some very old material and an album of B sides featuring music that has never been heard before. The band embark on a two-week tour in February 2019 – The House Concert Tour, beginning with their favourite village hall. And let’s face it, it yours too! Although less of a house than a village hall, we promise to provide that intimate house concert atmosphere…
Well, as we go to press with this blog, the dates are there but just not quite over the finish line. However we CAN say that 2019 is going to be The Year of the Funk! As you know we never like to get stuck in one genre and so once again we thought we would branch out. And we didn’t have to fall far to find a few fab funk outfits keen to come and play. Just you wait!
Green Arts Initiative
Letham Nights is now a member of the Green Arts Initiative, an interactive community of Scottish arts organisations working to promote sustainability and reduce their environmental impact – a perfect fit for Letham Nights!
Run by Creative Carbon Scotland and Festivals Edinburgh since 2013, the Green Arts Initiative supports Scottish arts organisations to be at the forefront of growing an environmentally sustainable Scotland.
Letham Nights began in December 2008. Our vision was to bring high quality music to our village hall and provide a stage for local talent. At the same time we wanted to work towards creating a zero carbon village hall. 8 years and over 80 acts later, we have drawn in an audience which now averages nearly 100 in our 120-capacity hall. We have supported hall improvements so that we now have double glazing, better insulation, renewed wiring and a new efficient boiler. The events are renowned for their high quality music and the unique, warm and friendly atmosphere. We really do put on THE BEST SMALL GIGS IN THE WORLD!
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