Bella’s Bartok: A Frenzied, 10-piece Collection of Musical Joy

Bella's Bartok on stage at the Rendezvous, Turners Falls
Bella's Bartok on stage at the Rendezvous, Turners Falls: Raucous fun.

As the ten members of Bella’s Bartok milled around the back of the Rendezvous, getting ready for their Saturday night gig, I thought about how hard it must be to keep all of them on the same musical page. What a diverse ensemble, so many instruments–trumpet, trombone, violin, accordion, guitars, bass, drums–it must be crazy during rehearsals and organizing the routine things that bands have to do.

Then they began their set–a frenzied, joyous, cacophony that sometimes changes tempo expectedly…leaving dancers paused, not sure exactly what to do. The clarinet player, like many of his bandmates, can’t resist his own dance moves, holding his instrument up and dancing like a fan.

Next to him Amory Drennan on trumpet and his cohort on trombone hold their instruments up at the ceiling and blow clear, well defined notes. You can tell neither of them just picked up their brass, they’ve got some chops. Amory was in the band in high school, he remembers how to blow the horn and uses his hand as an impromptu mute.

Lead singer Vashti Poor, with her Converse sneakers and armband tattoo, sings in a clear voice that’s marred by her porkpie hat-wearing fellow singer, who sings too loud. They both end up screaming out the undecipherable yet I’m sure clever lyrics. A shame.

“We did a sit down gig yesterday,” she said from the stage. “Awwwkward!”

This band doesn’t wanna sit, they wanna bounce and shriek and blow those wonderful horns. It’s a lot of fun. Indeed they are much more at home with the frenzy of the fans dancing in front, and belting out those lyrics to their clever songs.

Ten musicians filling the Voo with a joyously raucous sound, a cacophony of fun that the fans eat up. Their encore was an acapella rendition of a song about 18th century history. Then they were done, only eleven pm, but done. “We don’t have that much more material,” Amory explained.