In Los Angeles and Boston, the two places I’ve lived in this, my short, yet eventful life, Tuesday nights are a bummer. They always have been. There’s nothing on TV, Darcy is really being a jerk to Elizabeth, my friends are all busy, the fridge is empty, I’m out of popcorn, whatever the obstacle, you name it, it happens on a Tuesday. You’re not even halfway through the week on Tuesday! This past weekend’s blissful memories are now more than twenty-four hours behind you! Those Terrible Tuesdays.
But New York and Brooklyn take a different view of these things the rest of the world call “weekdays” or “workdays”. Tuesdays here are “why not?” days. You want that doughnut? Why not, it’s Tuesday! You want to dance to Slavic marching band-funk and drink vodka like you’re in the old country? Why not, it’s Tuesday! At Barbés, a small, dark cave of a bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the band Slavic Soul Party brings Tuesday nights to life with a vengeance. The venue space is a small room squeezed into the very back of the bar with a red tin ceiling and an ailing upright piano. This raucous nine-piece band takes up a third of the room and an unruly crowd of ultra enthusiastic dancers, movers and shakers pack into the rest. It seems that no one walks through the red-curtained doorway without a drink in their hand, often two, and by 10:30 or so, most of the crowd is generally a little unsteady.
The music is nothing short of divine. For someone like me, whose taste in tunes ranges from Opera to Dream-pop, this band is delightfully genre-bending. The band boasts an accordion, a tuba, two different drum and percussion players, two to three trumpet players, two trombones with one member doing double duty on both the saxophone and the clarinet. The sound is a mix of traditional Slavic melodies and rhythms (it’s in 4/4 time, but where the hell is 1!?), crazy rhythms like 7 alternating with 5, 9 alternating with 11, combined with funk bass lines and deep grooves that get everyone dancing. The band members are constantly laughing, smiling and participating with their audience (who are, admittedly, mere inches away from the bells of the brass. They would have to be heartless and cruel to ignore us. Which they aren’t. This is an entirely positive review.) It seems that every musician gets their chance to solo, with possible exception of the tuba, no complaints there.
Tuesdays at Barbés could almost be called a Dance Night, depending upon the crowd that shows up. It really is the perfect way to perk up your week, but be sure to bring your earplugs.