Thursday, 3 January 2013

Jez Hellard and the Djukella Orchestra: Blood and Honey

Blood and Honey
Jez Hellard and the Djukella Orchestra

Our second review of the year throws the spotlight on an artiste who was new to me when Blood and Honey arrived at Marsh Towers.

In amongst the mixture of traditional and contemporary folk songs, there is a diversity including tracks influenced and informed by the worlds of tango, rhumba, funk and reggae.

In addition to his guitar playing and soulful folk vocals, Jez Hellard excels on the harmonica. Indeed, two of the tracks I most enjoy are Miner's Picket Dance and Atlas Tango, both of which are instrumentals, allowing the harmonicas to really come into their own.

That's not to say the vocals and lyrics aren't strong too; here, Mercenaries and Harvest Gypsies represent the pick of the bunch.

A note on nomenclature. ''Djukella (mongrel) is a common insult in the southern Balkans. It seemed an appropriate name for this international hybrid of a band.''

The Balkan influence extends further: ''The word ''Balkan'' comprises the Turkish words ''bal'' - honey, and ''kan'' - blood. After criss-crossing that area on various madcap schemes these past couple of years, The Land of Blood often seems an apt description for one of the richest melting-pots of people and cultures I've ever had the good fortune to experience.''

The band itself includes Zoe Moffat (violin), Jordan Kostov (accordion), Nye Parsons (double bass) and the songs were recorded in various places, all the way from Skopje to a Bristol kitchen.

Track List

Saucy Sailor
Miner's Picket Dance
Remember The Mountain Bed
Atlas Tango
Bonny Black Hare
Luther/The Last Straw
Harvest Gypsies

Stand out tracks:  Mercenaries, Miner's Picket Dance, Atlas Tango, Harvest Gypsies.

Definitely one to watch in 2013. For further details, including tour dates, head for the official website.

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