THE KLEZMORIM > Bongo > The Show > Mutual Influences 

TOURING THE US/CANADA FOLK FEST CIRCUIT in the late 1970s, we befriended baggy-pants neo-vaudevillian Avner the Eccentric, who in 1984 made our recordings the sonic backdrop for his successful Off-Broadway one-man show. In 1983 we joined The Flying Karamazov Brothers for two theatrical runs as a New Vaudeville juggling/brass supergroup. The Karamazovs were a kick in the pants: consummate showmen with split-second timing, expert musicality, and deep mastery of audience psychology. Their fearless risk-taking and bizarre humor left a permanent mark on us.

In 1986, we got tight with the French street band Mona Lisa Klaxon. Having traveled to Paris to hear us play at the Théatre de la Ville, they were busking in the streets to cover expenses — and playing one of our tunes as we strolled by. Epic jamming and bistro-hopping ensued.

Everywhere in Europe we encountered street musicians and Fellini-esque traveling circus troupes who shared our fanatical devotion to early jazz, cabaret, and folk dance music. These unsung artists could conjure a crowd-riveting spectacle from the most humble ingredients: a mouthful of water, a fistful of broken glass... They knew our recordings, and recognized our kinship with their own progenitors in the taverns and fairs of Europe.

Street performers share a dark secret, whether busking in Berkeley, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice Beach, or the New York subway. While you're bringing joy and beauty to the people, you yourself are broke and exhausted and depressed and a cop's whistle away from getting busted. Laugh, Clown! Your art acquires a desperate, nihilistic edge. You become a trickster, a snake-oil swindler, to keep yourself sane.

<< Angst, shmangst! Did The Show have a useful purpose? >>