Editorial Feature: A ‘Nuit’ On The Town with LEMON BUCKET ORKESTRA
As Nuit Blanche-goers filled the orchestra seats of the elegant Koerner Hall, little did most know that Toronto’s only Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Party-Punk-Super-Band was about to hit the stage.
I’ve seen LEMON BUCKET ORKESTRA (LBO) live in concert before, but that was in the sweaty downstairs of a community hall at a “gypsy dance party” of sorts. In contrast, sitting in the red velvet upholstered seats of the Royal Music Conservatory just didn’t seem right.
I’ve seen LEMON BUCKET ORKESTRA (LBO) live in concert before…sitting in the red velvet upholstered seats of the Royal Music Conservatory just didn’t seem right.
But as I looked up at the currently unpopulated stage I began to notice the surroundings: on the floor at the back was a tuba, a saxophone, a trumpet – no mouthpieces included – a violin with one string, and among them plenty of other instruments that seemed to be past their prime. These turned out to belong to the ‘second’ Lemon Bucket Orkestra – audience members who were brave enough to hop on stage and join in the show.
As LBO played its first lively tune, I couldn’t help but tap my foot and wonder when it was my turn to get up and dance. Lead vocalist/fiddler Mark Marczyk soon invited the audience to play the ‘instruments’, sing, dance, and have an amazing time.
One fan had his once-in-a-lifetime chance to stand at the tip of the stage and play a trumpet, feeding off the adoring screams of the crowd. Although the cheers were likely mostly for the real band, this fan was so enthralled with what he was experiencing that he sat down, and leaned back with his arms outstretched in the air, trumpet in hand, and took in his surroundings for that one moment, seemingly happier than ever before – it was a beautiful sight.
After a rousing two-hour set, from 11pm to 1am, the real party finally began. Willing members of the audience were invited on a mystery subway ride to an undisclosed location for another set, which was very LBO-esque. The gypsy-punk outfit always seems to have something up its sleeve to make the night magical for all who attend. As the 16-piece band left the conservatory and headed for Museum station, a quick song was played on the granite benches in front of the Royal Ontario Museum. Once in the station we headed for Osgoode Hall.
There, in between the two big pink spheres and under what seemed to be a flying saucer that comprised that location’s Nuit Blanche installation, LBO continued their fantastic set into the wee hours of the night.
Toronto’s not the only place that LEMON BUCKET ORKESTRA has played pop-up shows, busks, or other events. They’ve played all around the folk circuit of Romania, and are planning a tour 2.0 – one month: five countries and counting. Of course this tour is meant to spread their music and to give the band a chance to connect with their roots in Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Germany, Ukraine, and possibly more. But once those roots are found, they’ll be pulled from the ground and incorporated into everything that each of the 16 individuals in the band plays.
all I can hear is a crazy polka track that ensures buckets of fun* to anyone who hears it
Taking a 16-piece band across the ocean costs more than a few bucks, and the band is currently 2/3 of the way to their fundraising goal. In exchange for a donation, viewers can redeem free CD’s, concert tickets, and even a show in your own home.
The exciting news never seems to stop, eh? LBO released its new album, Lume, Lume, on Oct. 31st at Lee’s Palace (see embedded player below). This new batch of tunes has been very much anticipated since the release of their Lemon Cheeky EP back in 2011. On this zesty 56-minute album are 13 songs, my personal favourite being opening track Odessa Bulgarish, which is described as an Odessan traditional tune, but all I can hear is a crazy polka track that ensures buckets of fun* to anyone who hears it – as long as you’ve got some room to dance!
*[Editor's Note: rest assured, Alexa will be punished for this blatant use of a band name pun - we find this sort of thing a little sour...]