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The Music of Rachel Bell: Traditional and Treasured

Rachel Bell

Rachel Bell

Bio courtesy of Rachelbellmusic.com Rachel Bell is an accordion player, tunesmith, and music teacher from the wilds of Pennsylvania. She is in demand throughout the United States and beyond for concerts, contra dances, English country dances, French dances, and workshops.

Over a decade of musical travel has landed her smack-dab in the middle of some of her most exciting projects ever. A vibrant and versatile collaboration with Karen Axelrod, exquisite violin and viola sounds from Eric Martin, a rich and energetic contra dance band called Seaglass, and a slew of French-focused music and dance adventures with Susan Kevra are just the tip of the iceberg. A recent addition has been a joyful musical partnership with Becky Tracy, and other combinations often round out the mix.

Rachel Bell grew up playing the piano and spent her college years studying music education and classical piano. As a college freshman, she surprised even herself when she picked up a piano accordion and “accidentally” fell in love with it. Rachel now enjoys a busy gig schedule playing concerts, contra dances, English country dances, French dances, and festivals.

Rachel’s bands include Alchemy, Peregrine Road, Old World Charm School, Seaglass, Eloise & Co. and a slew of other combinations. She plays tunes from France, New England, Scotland, Ireland, England, Quebec, and beyond, as well as songs, original compositions, and even crazy roots-rock arrangements. Recently, Rachel has been collaborating with Susan Kevra to compose new tune/choreography combinations to send out into the English country dance repertoire.

Rachel Bell

The past few years have been bursting with big changes, big travel, and exciting new musical collaborations. After six years as a public school music teacher, Rachel finally let go of that last shred of normalcy and launched into full-time freelance musicianhood. Her obsession with French music and dance led to three music-focused overseas trips, and her obsession with finding the perfect instrument led to the purchase of an incredible tone-chambered Beltuna that sounds exquisite. During June 2016, in the midst of playing piles of camps, gigs, and festivals, Rachel released her debut solo album, Tone Chamber. This recording highlights the versatility of the accordion and boasts and impressive cast of guest musicians.

Rachel’s playing is infused with a contagious enthusiasm for her instrument and a deep love for the musical traditions she carries. Her passion is to share with others the delight she finds when immersed in this music, ushering them into a place where their toes can’t help tapping and their ears are dunked in strawberry jam.

Whenever she’s not playing accordion or chasing after waterfalls, Rachel is busy instilling the joy of music in children of all ages. Through her Crab Apple Jam Music Studio, Rachel offers everything from mommy-n-me musical playgroups for toddlers to piano lessons to dulcimer clubs. Rachel’s upbeat, engaging teaching style is grounded in 9+ years of public school teaching experience and 2 years of Montessori School teaching experience. Every Crab Apple Jam Music Class is packed to the brim with hands-on, creative experiences that build musical skills as well as essential life skills. Children are captivated by the rich array of puppets, ribbons, songs, dances, dulcimers, boomwhackers, bells, drums, and more.

Contact: CrabAppleJamMusic@gmail.com

 


Out of Houston’s Heat, Emerges the Very Cool Band, Buxton

Buxton

Buxton Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff of Mother Jones Americana Music Awards, Nashville, 2016

By Christa T. for Accordion Americana In Houston, Texas, the weather is frequently hot and the tamales are even hotter. But,  those who choose to live in such a climate don’t shrink from heat, they just find cool ways to compensate for it.  One of the coolest bands to arise from steamy Houston is Buxton. Originating from LaPorte, Texas, the Americana band is comprised of Sergio Trevino on guitar and vocals, Jason Willis on guitar, mandolin and pedal steel, Chris Wise on bass, Justin Terrell on drums and the recent addition of Austin Sepulvado on guitar and piano accordion.

It’s the accordion that gives Buxton its distinctive Alt-Country/ Folk sound that draws the listener in. An accordion has a way of doing that, if one knows their way around the instrument. It’s evident that Austin Sepulvado adds the elements of sweetness and yearning that perfectly counters and complements the vocals of Sergio Trevino. The vocal talents of Trevino along with his wistful resemblance to an iconic  era of Texas music, compelled the Houston Chronicle to award Trevino Best Male Vocalist and to award the band, Buxton, Best Folk/Americana band.

“Half A Native” is the latest offering for the band, Buxton, their first album since “Nothing Here Seems Strange“(2012). Previous works have been “Feathers 7” (2009), “A Family Light” (2008) and their first album, “Red Follows Red” (2005). “We take from a lot of different genres and present it in a way that I think is most honest for us”, Trevino says. “Half A Native is music for the search for home, the long journey to find somewhere, something or someone that makes everything fall into place.” After finding great success as a regional band, “Half A Native” was recorded in Los Angeles, a departure for Buxton, this time. It was both a business and creative decision to record the album on the West Coast and also to work with Producer Thom Monahan (Peter, Bjorn & John, Devndra Banhart and Vetiver).

As an Indie band, Buxton is seeking new musical directions, deliberately and subtly reinventing itself. “Half a Native” confirms that with each album, their true artistic identity is revealed more and more, making them one of the most interesting Americana bands to emerge in recent times.

buxton-iv

Buxton

Contact: buxtonband@gmail.com


Ami Saraiya & The Outcome

Ami Saraiya II

Ami Saraiya

By Christa T. for Accordion Americana It has long been a challenge to bring the piano accordion to a new generation of Americans. But, by using the instrument more and more, Alternative musicians, or artists who write and perform outside of the present musical mainstream, are giving the accordion  a lot of exposure.  Artists such as Ami Saraiya and her band, The Outcome, are examples of this growing trend of young musicians who seek different ways to express their own unique style in a new age.

The piano accordion is” like having a symphony in your hands” Ami Saraiya says. “I picked it up and I was in love. It’s very rhythmic, and since I grew up playing piano, it came very easy.”  Trained as a classical pianist, Ami was a former music major at Indiana University. “I started playing piano when I was 5, and when I was growing up I was always singing and in choir….but the classical world was not for me. I joined a band when I was 19 and found my niche.”” Ami was the lead vocalist of pop collective Radiant Darling and R&B band Pelvic Delta, and has toured locally and regionally throughout the U.S.

Ami Saraiya

Ami Saraiya

Coming out of the Chicago music scene, the songs of Ami Saraiya reveal a distinct part of that American urban aesthetic, and reveal to us how she experiences her world. With original songwriting and instrumentation, Ami interprets it through a wide range of instruments.  Along with her voice, she performs with  the accordion, guitar, violin,  and xylophone and other instruments, as well. Whether with the roar of any Pop icon or the soft and sultry style of a chanteuse, her live performance is captivating. Amy Saraiya always sings and writes with  deep conviction, while she totally “shreds” on the accordion.

As a songwriter, “I create what I feel. I start with an idea and do lots of work out from there, but it’s just raw perspective — I’m not trying to create something in particular. What I do comes from the heart, and the hard work comes in finishing what you started. Ideas come and they aren’t always understandable, but I manage to find some transcendence.”

 Ami Saraiya and The Outcome received excellent reviews with Saraiya’s first album under her own name entitled, “Archeologist” in 2009. She followed up with an EP entitled “Purging” which critics thought dark, “surrealistic” and “the best tracks she’s ever produced”(Joseph Montes, Loud Loup Press). With her second album, released in 2012, “Soundproof Box,” the singer/songwriter/bandleader “showcases the performer’s creative energy and intensity….vintage cabaret sound is drama in bold relief, swinging from playful to maudlin in a single measure.” (Jessica Hopper, The Chicago Tribune).

 

The Outcome, including Marc Piane (upright bass), Ronnie Kuller (violin), Gary Kalar, (electric guitar), Shirley Caen Rogiers (vocals), and Courtney Glascoe (vocals).

Ami Saraiya & The Outcome

Ami Saraiya & The Outcome

http://www.amisaraiya.com


The Enigmatic Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands

Crystal Bright III

Crystal Bright (Photos by Christopher Lubinski)

By Christa T. for Accordion Americana Sometimes a performer emerges with the potential to completely redefine our impression of musical performance using the piano accordion. Crystal Bright has shown she has courage to dare to push the envelope a little farther, dig a little deeper and forge a path to go beyond what is merely expected and acceptable.

Crystal Dawn Bright was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1981 and raised in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina. She began piano lessons at the age of seven, and while growing up, performed in musicals and studied drama. After earning her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and M.A. from Florida State University, Crystal traveled, studied and worked from Spain to Yellowstone. Something that she had previously read resonated with Crystal. It was a book that she credits as influencing her creative path, and one that continues to motivate her today, Clarissa Pinkola Estes’, Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.

She deliberately sought to absorb all that she could that is magical and wild in the world, inspired by thoughts such as these:

  • “Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”
  • “I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories from your life– not someone else’s life–water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”
  • “Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in, polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is creative life.”
  • “All the ‘not readies,’ all the ”I need time,’ are understandable, but only for a short while. The truth is that there is never a ‘completely ready,’ there is never a really ‘right time.” Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Crystal returned to Greenboro, North Carolina, and in 2010 she formed her band, Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands. She named her band after a fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm, called ‘The Handless Maiden’. Crystal Bright said, “it is about her losing her hands and gaining them back in the end, representing her coming into her full creative and soulful self which I felt like I was doing then, and am still doing.” Crystal adds, ” I had written these songs and I needed help in creating a band and taking my music to the next level. The Silver Hands helped me create something bigger than my own hands could.”

A multi-instrumentalist in the truest sense, Crystal performs with a vast assortment of ethnic and exotic instruments, including a musical saw. She has shown that she can captivate an audience with her vocal ability and style, described as operatic and ethereal. Crystal utilizes the piano accordion; taps into and takes full advantage of the edgy, noir quality that the instrument can evoke, to effectively convey a sense of mystery,  and of darkness and light.

Crystal Bright I

Crystal Bright

Since forming her band, Crystal Bright has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, winning their Triangle Talent Search. She has earned awards for her singing performance and musicianship, songwriting, best music video ,”Drowned Out”, as well as international recognition. In 2010, the Broach Theatre in Greensboro, N.C. featured Crystal Bright’s musical theatre production, “Illuminating and Transcending the Shadow”, which she wrote, produced and directed, and in which she starred. It featured her band, The Silver Hands and a cast of sixteen costumed actors.

As a performance artist, Crystal acted, sang and performed with musical instruments, collaborating with mixed media sculptor, Grey Pascal in “20/20: Filters of Light and Insight”(2010) “Downward Spiral” (2011). Crystal Bright also co-produced and starred in her musical concert, “Bones and Lilies” along with members of the Flowjo Family Circus. Two performances featured acrobatics, interpretive dance and circus arts. The events took place at The Flowjo (2012) in Carrboro, North Carolina. A visual album by Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands, “The Absolute Elsewhere”, was performed at the Carrboro Arts Center (2014) and received positive reviews. Most recently, Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands performed an original, live score to the classic silent movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2015 & 2016)

With her highly intuitive determination, Crystal takes her audience along the enchanting path that she has chosen to fashion. The direction that she will take is only beginning to unfold as Crystal Bright continues to evolve as a brilliant star

Permanent members Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands
Crystal BrightVocals, accordion, keyboards, concertina, adungu, bombo, zheng, piano, guitar, vihuela and musical saw

Current rotating members:
Aaron Bond – Double bass
Sanders Davis – Double bass
Jeremy Denman – Trumpet
Jeremy Haire – Acoustic guitars
Robbie Link – Double bass
Seth Oldham – Drums
Bradley Spencer – Mandolin

Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands has performed at over 500 concerts including:
South By Southwest
Savannah Stopover
FloydFest
DragonCon
Midpoint Music Fest
The Steampunk World’s Fair,
Shakori Hills

Releases:

June 2010: Crystal Bright & the Silver Hands

March 2012: Muses & Bones

April 2013: Live on All Hallows’ Evening’

May 2015: The Absolute Elsewhere 

 

Crystal Bright II

http://www.crystalbrightandthesilverhands.com


List of Bands that Feature the Accordion

Punk’s 10 Best Accordion Players: A Tribute to accordion Rockers
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 12:18 PM (PST) by connor_maoil

The sound of the accordion is, in my opinion, one of the best, weirdest, and most unique additions to the punk genre. For most it’s easy to see the instrument as nothing more than a novelty but the truth is there are a lot of very talented musicians whose squeezebox skills can’t be overlooked as a gimmick. As an aspiring punk rock accordionist myself, I wanted to spotlight some of the best in the field.

Check out the list here.

10. (Honorary mention): Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello)

Things might have ended up differently for the gypsy troubadour Eugene Hutz if he stuck with his attempt at learning the accordion. In a video interview, Hutz jokes about the difficulties he had trying to learn the instrument:

“Learning the accordion was just impossible. Have you ever tried an accordion? It’s insane. It’s f*cking nuts man, it’s like, to play accordion you must have your brain wired differently. I worship people who can play accordion. I tried for 2 years and ended up withminor scoliosis and, anxiety problem. And that’s when I picked up [guitar].

9. Eric Melvin (NOFX)

While the accordion is rarely up front in the ranks of NOFX, founding guitarist Eric Melvin busts out his giant squeezebox to time to time to please the crowds. Wailing minor waltzes about sleepless nights, Melvin really puts a lot of character into the instrument

I, Melvin

8. Katie McConnell (The Mahones)

I’ve gotta admit that I’ve had a crush on this punk for a long time. McConnell really does a great job of bringing the punk style and hardcore energy to the accordion. Her style of playing seems to draw a good deal of inspiration from The Pogues (above). Seeing any performance by her with The Mahones is an awesome experience that I highly recommend to any lover of celtic punk. Watch for them in your town!

“A Great Night On The Lash” (from “The Black Irish,” 2011, True North Records)

7. Marc Orrell (Dropkick Murphys, 2000-2008)

He’s the one who brought you Shipping Up To Boston. Enough said?

6. Tim Brennan (Dropkick Murphys, 2003-present)

The current recording and touring multi-instrumentalist Tim Brennan has continued to make the accordion a more part of the band’s staple sound.

The Hardest Mile (off 2011′s Going Out In Style)

5. James Fearnley (The Pogues)

One of the pioneers of the punk accordion, James Fearnley, the original and current member of The Pogues, was originally a guitar player. According to Fearnley’s memoir, “Here Comes Everybody: The Story Of The Pogues,” founding banjo member Jem Finer, desperately seeking an accordion for his new band, showed up at Fearnley’s flat with an accordion in a laundry bag and persuaded him to try and learn the instrument.

“Turkish Song Of The Damned“ (from “If I Should Fall From Grace Of God,” 1988, Island Records)

4. Seamus O’Flanahan (The Dreadnoughts)

I’ll just let Seamus speak for himself. (Off “Polka’s Not Dead”, 2010)

3. Matt Hensley (Flogging Molly)

Hensley, a former skateboarder, picked up accordion from guitar like so many others on this list. In addition to skillfully adding to the work of Flogging Molly with his accordion, Hensley is also frequently featured on the concertina and more traditional Irish diatonic button accordion. That’s the kind of thing that tends to really impress the geeky accordion junkies.

“Tomorrow Comes A Day Too Soon” (from “Within A Mile Of Home,” 2004, SideOneDummy)

2. Yuri Lemeshev (Gogol Bordello)

Although not a founding member of the New York gypsy punk band, Yuri Lemeshev has been a vital part of the band for over a decade. Hailing from Russia, Lemeshev has to be one of the most technically skilled members of the scene. And not only can he knock down tunes masterfully, he can also move around and have a good ol’ punk time on stage while doing it.

“Supertheory Of Supereverything” (from “Super Taranta!”, 2007, SidOneDummy)

1. Franz Nicolay (World/Inferno Friendship Society)

In addition to that moustache, Franz Nicolay brings in the background of a converted rock piano player (most notably in The Hold Steady) and has spread the use of the accordion all over the genre. Nicolay probably has the most impressive resume of them all; in addition to being a former longtime member of the punk circus collective World/Inferno Friendship Society and his own collective Anti-Social Music, Nicolay has recorded and toured with the likes of Against Me!, Leftover Crack, The Dresden Dolls, The Loved Ones, and Mischief Brew. Check out a complete list of his recording and producer credits over here.

“Your Younger Man” (from “Red Eyed Soul,” 2006)

Had enough yet? If not, check out some up-and-coming bands featuring the accordion.

The First Chairs (ska)

Roughneck Riot (celtic punk)

Larry And His Flask (cow punk)

The Real Mckenzies (celtic punk)

Mad Caddies (ska/swing punk)

The Mighty Regis (celtic punk)

Crash Nomada (gypsy punk)

Joey Briggs (solo from The Briggs)

Ramshackle Glory (folk punk)

Feudalism (folk punk)

Lucero (cow punk)

This is a list of articles describing popular music acts that incorporate the accordion.

Band or musician Accordionist Style
Agalloch  ? Folk metal, doom metal, black metal, neofolk, post-rock
Arcade Fire Régine Chassagne
Richard Reed Parry[1]
Indie rock
The Band Garth Hudson Americana
Beirut Perrin Cloutier Combines elements of Eastern European and folk sounds
Calexico Martin Wenk Rock
Counting Crows Charlie Gillingham Rock
The Decemberists Jenny Conlee Folk rock
Deep Forest Michel Sanchez Combines electronic beats with world music
Del Amitri Andy Alston Rock
Detektivbyrån Anders Flanders Combination of electronica, folk and French pop
DeVotchKa Tom Hagerman Indie rock
The Dropkick Murphys Tim Brennan Celtic punk
The E Street Band Danny Federici
Charles Giordano
Rock
Equilibrium  ? Viking metal, folk metal, symphonic black metal
Finntroll  ? Folk metal, black metal, humppa
Flogging Molly Matt Hensley[2] Celtic punk
Folkearth  ? Viking metal, folk metal, black metal
Gogol Bordello Yuri Lemeshev Gypsy punk
Gotan Project Nini Flores Tango, Electronic
Great Big Sea Bob Hallett Traditional Newfoundland folk and rock
Green Day Tré Cool Punk rock
The Hooters Rob Hyman Rock
Jason Webley Self Combination of traditional music, romani music, punk
John Mellencamp  ? Rock. Has included the accordion in most of his music since 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee.
Julieta Venegas Self Latin pop
Jump, Little Children Matthew Bivins Combines Irish influences with an alternative rock sound
Katzenjammer  ? Pop
Korpiklaani Juho Kauppinen Folk metal
Lemon Demon Neil Cicierega Indie rock
Mägo de Oz Sergio Cisneros Folk metal, folk rock
MewithoutYou Aaron Weiss Alternative Rock
Moonsorrow Henri Sorvali Folk metal
Motion Trio (Accordion Trio) Collaborations with other artists (such as Bobby McFerrin and Michał Urbaniak)
The Pogues James Fearnley Irish punk, pub music
Skyforger  ? Folk metal, black metal
Silvestre Dangond Juancho De la Espriella Vallentos, Modern and very popular Colombian music
Sound Horizon Revo Combination of many genres, ranging from heavy metal to classical
Stolen Babies Dominique Lenore Persi Avant-garde metal
Styx Dennis DeYoung Hard rock, progressive rock
Svartsot Hans-Jørgen Martinus Hansen Folk metal, Viking metal
That Handsome Devil Jeremy Page and Andy Bauer Alternative rock, alternative hip hop
They Might Be Giants John Linnell Alternative rock
Tiger Lillies Martyn Jacques Brechtian and gypsy cabaret
Tom Waits  ? Jazz, rock, blues, folk, experimental
Tosca Tango Orchestra Glover Gil Nuevo tango, classical music
Turisas Janne Mäkinen Folk metal, Viking metal
The Twilight Sad Andy MacFarlane Scottish folk rock, indie rock
Vitas Vitas (studio), ? (live) Eclectic Russian pop
“Weird Al” Yankovic Self Parody music
Windir Valfar Folk metal, Viking metal, black metal
The World/Inferno Friendship Society Franz Nicolay[3] Cabaret punk

Josh Kaufman, The Blasting Company

Petrojvic Blasting Company

The Petrojvic Blasting Company

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.

http://www.theblastingcompany.com


Johnny Kongos, of the band KONGOS

Johnny Kongos

Johnny Kongos

By Christa T. for Accordion Americana Sometimes a song begins slowly. It trips, then tumbles, and then gradually begins to spin, climb and pick up speed.  Finally, it ascends and roars across the airwaves.  Such is the song, “Come With Me Now” on its path to becoming the best selling pop song of all time that features a strong accordion presence. By using the piano accordion in the enormously successful song, it represents a genuine breakthrough, heightening all expectations for the instrument in current American Pop music.

Written and performed by KONGOS, an Arizona based band of four brothers, each a musician with his own unique perspective.  The name of the band, KONGOS, their surname, is of Greek origin and is always presented in upper case letters.  The sons of an American mother and South African father, Johnny, Jesse, and Daniel Kongos were born in Johannesburg, South Africa as American citizens. They were transplanted to Arizona from London at early ages after Dylan, the youngest, was born while the family resided in  London. They grew up in the Valley, graduated from Scottsdale’s Chapparal High School and attended Arizona State University.  Their father, John Kongos, was a singing star in South Africa in the nineteen sixties and seventies. He made certain that his sons were exposed to a wide variety of music styles and genres during their childhood. It was inevitable that the Kongos brothers would learn to feel completely comfortable in their own multi-cultural musical landscape where their talent and band could evolve with the help of their very supportive family atmosphere and their own recording studio.

Johnny Kongos III

Johnny Kongos
The brothers began mailing their music around the world hoping to get airplay on radio for their songs.  They produced their sophomore album, Lunatic, in 2011 with the track, “Come With Me Now”, but received little airplay for three years. They were ready to give up on the material and move on, when the song, suddenly, began being played on radio. In an interview with Billboard, Jesse states that “There was about a year-and-a-half in America trying to get it going, and nothing was happening….then, all of a sudden, a few stations started to spin us, and that’s when it started to change.  We had sent the song around and people had heard the song in 2011 and 2012.Why was it the end of 2013 that it clicked for whatever reason? The long story is that we wrote the song in the end of 2007 and in 2008, we started playing it out live”. In an interview with Radio.com, Johnny Kongos said, “We knew the song had something because we trust our instincts. If a song really makes us get up and move and really get into it, then we trust that instinct.” Their album, Lunatic, realeased in 2012, was then released again in 2014 by Epic Records, where it was promoted aggressively. The single debuted in April, 2014, on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 98, and after a 10 week meteoric rise, peaked at number 31, the fastest rise of any new band since American rock band Evanescence’s song “Bring Me to Life”, in 2003.  It’s been a long time since Jo Ann Castle scored a number 67 slot on that chart with her sensational “Flight of the Bumble Bee Boogie” in 1957. “Come With Me Now” is the best selling accordion-based song since that time, reaching number 1 on the Alternative chart. The single has charted all over the world, making it an international hit song.
“Come With Me Now” has had major exposure, having been featured on many international shows and sports events with the NFL, NBA and ESPN in the U.S. and was also used for both the 2013 Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl, as well as for the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. It has been heard as the unofficial theme song for the 2015 Copa America and other international sports events. It has been used in the trailers for the films Holy Motors and Horrible Bosses 2, and on the soundtrack to the film, The Expendables 3.  The song has been a favorite for international television shows of all kinds, from the reality format, to sports, awards and talk shows. The song has been the official theme song for the pay-for-view show, WWE’s Extreme rules in May 2015. It was also featured on the show, NCIS:New Orleans. Following intense exposure on television, it has been used to promote video games, Borderland and Guitar Hero, and commercials for theme parks. As of April 2015, the first anniversary of the release of the song, their music video for “Come With Me Now” has received over 29 million views on the internet.
Kongos