A band name like “3 Leg Torso” on any marquee is guaranteed to cause confusion.
Making their Bakersfield debut Friday night, November 19th, at Dove Creek Bible Church, the Portland-based quintet is currently celebrating 14 years of twisting musical concepts to the melodic extreme. Mixing the beauty of Eastern European folk music, Latin dance rhythms, jazz, and a cabaret-like shtick into one, listeners will find themselves somewhere between Frank Zappa and Ástor Piazzolla.
"We're actually a chamber punk band," joked accordion player Courtney Von Drehle about the group's rebellious style and wit. "Coming and seeing us live, you go on a journey. People are often transported to many different places."
Humor aside, there is some truth to Von Drehle's statement.
Rising from the ashes of another equally experimental but rockier former project, original members -- violinist, Bela Balogh, along with Von Drehle, decided it was time to mess with the traditions of chamber music. Not to shame its beauty, but to elevate and update it for a new audience.
"My background was in Klezmer -- a form of Jewish dance music, and Eastern European music," said Von Drehle. "After our last band broke up, I really wanted to try incorporating it into something new and play in the streets."
Not the least bit interested in the beginning, longtime buddy Balogh finally gave in after a heartbreaking experience.
"Courtney tried to talk me into playing the streets, but I wasn't havin' it. Then my girlfriend broke up with me and I had to get outta the house," he recalled. "We used to dress up like Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd as the two wild and crazy Czech guys from Saturday Night Live."
As loveable music geeks in the big city, they gained ground in the Portland area and eventually became the core of what would become 3 Leg Torso. Recording a series of independent releases and scoring some short films by NPR contributor David Greenberger, they've been greasing their imaginative wheels ever since.
3 Leg Torso, above from left: T.J. Arko, Gary Irvine, Mike Murphy, Bela Balogh, Courtney Von Drehle. Photo by Saskia Thompson
Currently touring the festival circuit to appreciative audiences, their latest CD "Animals and Cannibals," epitomizes the sound they've worked so hard to perfect.
"This is one of those projects that after working it for so long, you've gotten to know it well and you kind of recognize its strengths and weaknesses," said Von Drehle of the 10-track release, which will be available for sale the day of the show. "We get some crazy reactions with the combination of jazz and rock. It's a bigger pot to stir, but we ended up with a pretty well-seasoned stew."
3 Leg Torso, above from left: Mike Murphy, Courtney Von Drehle, Bela Balogh, Gary Irvine, T.J. Arko. Photo by Saskia Thompson
Songs like "The Life and Times and Good Deeds of St. Penguin" and "Bus Stop to Oblivion" are fun listens, packed with technical twists in every measure. Another of the CD's standout tracks is the soothing "The Last Dream," the perfect ending to a brilliantly produced CD. Chamber music aficionados shouldn't take offense -- these guys can really play.
“We did many things that wouldn’t be done in a classical or chamber setting. I’m not saying our other albums are bad. It’s just that I can listen to this and enjoy listening to it again and again,” said Balogh, who along with Von Drehle and the rest of the band, shine throughout.
“Coming to this show, will probably be one of the most exciting times of your year,” he added.
Joining Von Drehle and Balogh on Friday will be musicians: Michael Papillo, double bass; Gary Irvine, drums and percussion; and TJ Arko, percussion.
3 Leg Torso official website
Kern Arts Council presents 3 Leg Torso
When: 7 p.m. Friday, November 19th, 2010
Where: Dove Creek Bible Church, 5131 Office Park Drive
Admission: $20 general / $15 Kern Arts Council members / $10 students
*Also printed in The Bakersfield Californian, 11-18-10
DON'T FORGET BAKERSFIELD'S HOTTEST NEW OPEN MIC NIGHT!
EVERY WEDNESDAY AT FISHLIPS!
(CLICK ON BANNER BELOW FOR MORE INFO!)
SEE YOU THERE!