Bella’s Bartok are a Circus of Sound You Must Not Miss
By Julia Tolstrup
Something happens to a room when Bella’s Bartok are in it. Or a field. Or a farm. Or wherever they happen to be setting up camp for a few hours. No matter who you are, if you can hear them you will get up and move. You won’t even mean to, but you’ll do it. I’ve witnessed this. The guy stuck to the barstool all night, elbows propped on the bar, scowling into a pint glass. He gets up. The girl who hugs the wall, too embarrassed to approach the floor. She gets up. The date night couple who didn’t realize there was going to be a band. They. Get. Up. Everyone in the room responds as soon as Bella’s Bartok strikes a note, and they don’t stop until they’re done.
By Isaac Nines Photography
So what is it about them? To be honest I have no idea. Sure the music they make is infectious and fantastically hard to categorize—part gypsy punk, part folk rock, part straight up madness. And sure their combination of intricate instrumentation and sudden, unexpected vocal harmony is nothing short of heart stopping. But there’s something else. An energy that is impossible to describe. They’re witty and engaging, sweet and strange, often covered in glitter, and they have this way of wrapping the audience in their warm, melodic arms that makes it seem like for those few hours you’re a part of this magic they create. And once they have you nice and comfy, chaos breaks loose. Beautiful, accordion infused chaos.
That’s right. Accordion. Band member Jesse Putnam puts in time on accordion, mandolin, trumpet, and guitar. As if that wasn’t enough, across the stage Amory Drennan deftly handles the trombone. The bass, served up by Dan Niederhauser, is heavy and sultry, the drums, in the capable hands of Crisco (just Crisco), are ripping, and the vocals…are very difficult to describe. Asher Putnam fronts the band, simultaneously channeling Freddie Mercury and Eugene Hutz. Chris “Fancy” Kerrigan backs him up while flinging a guitar (and often himself) around the room, teetering harmonies on top of the whole elegant riot (so does Jesse, because he wasn’t already doing enough things) and the results are downright otherworldly.
By Julia Tolstrup
A carnival of sound and sweat and something intangible, beguiling, is what drives people to see this band again and again. It’s what makes the room move as one giant serpent bewitched by the snake charmers at the helm. Bella’s Bartok aren’t just a band, they’re an enchantment.