By Christa T. for Accordion Americana It’s not a stretch to call the Petrojvic Blasting Company an Americana band. While strong inflections rich in Eastern European folk tradition are identifiable, their music possesses a ‘here and now’ sensibility, drawn from genres rooted in North America. It is music that is original in style, and combines a consistent jazz groove with an infectious exuberance that propels it forward, like a funeral band blasting through the streets of New Orleans returning from ‘setting the body free’. The effect that The Blasting Company has on their audience is evident. With an electricity rarely felt, even in live performance, it is the very definition of ‘good time music’ and it is entertainment at its best.
Josh Kaufman, along with his brother, Justin, grew up in the greater Nashville, Tennessee area and as teenagers, regularly busked on the city’s street corners. It was through this process that their live performance edge was honed. In the classroom of the street corner, the multi-instrumentalists earned their passing or failing grades and could always count on making some money at the same time. It was there that they formed their first band, Albania Mania, and after relocating to East Los Angeles, founded the California Feetwarmers Jazz Band. Although now involved with many other successful projects, The Blasting Company persists as a live act performing in diverse settings such as open air farmers markets, art walks as well as gigs at night spots throughout Los Angeles.
Since arriving in Los Angeles only a few years ago, the brothers have continuously worked to establish a group of musicians with similar musical sensibilities. Usually, the Blasting Company consists of Josh on the accordion, two trumpets, a trombone, played by Justin, drums and sousaphone. A kind of “super-drum” is played by Corey Beers, percussionist for the Blasting Company, to which he added pieces. In addition to the drum, it consists of a rope, a cowbell and a washboard giving their music a dramatic dimension.
The Petrojvic Blasting Company participated in a collaboration between the Library Foundation of Los Angles, the Los Angeles Public Library and University of Southern California Professor Josh Kun, called Songs in the Key of L. A. The intention of the ambitious effort was to repurpose sheet music pieces from the 1840’s through the 1950’s stored in the Library’s archives, known as the Southern California Sheet Music Collection. The goal of the project was not only to preserve the collection, but to bring it back to life and create “a singular portrait of Los Angeles history and culture rendered in music and visual art.” Along with other artists, The Petrojvic Blasting Company was invited to pick some sheet music, study it, and then interpret it in any style of their choosing. The finished products are available for free download from the website of the Los Angeles Public Library.
Josh, his brother Justin and The Blasting Company, composed the entire score and performed all of the music for Cartoon Network’s Over The Garden Wall. It is an American animated television miniseries created by Patrick McHale for the Cartoon Network that features two brothers who travel through a strange forest in order to find their way home. The show is based on McHale’s animated short film, Tome of the Unknown, which was produced as part of Cartoon Network Studios’ shorts development program. The miniseries, Over the Garden Wall was awarded an Emmy in 2015 for Outstanding Animated Program.
The Petrojvic Blasting Company also participated, along with its mastermind, Accordionist Jason Webley, in the Monsters of the Accordion Tour, a West Coast event.
Whatever musical direction the Petrojvic Blasting Company has taken since Josh and Justin busked on the streets of Nashville, the accordion has been present and central to their performance. Talented and savvy, they will, without a doubt, continue to create and find success in the strange land of music and film. But, these wandering brothers, like those in Over the Garden Wall, are forever seeking, trying to find their way home.