The Carnivaleros,
Lost in the Graveyard
(RootaVega, 2006)

The Carnivaleros is a project of accordion player Gary Mackender, described on the official website as "an amalgam of Tex-Mex, Zydeco, Western Film music and Eastern European motifs."

The CD begins with the swamp rock of "Lost in the Graveyard." Next is the Eastern European polka "Gina Lollobrigida," with a children's chorus singing the subject's name before the accordion comes in.

Suspicions that Mackender has his tongue in cheek are justified with his accordion-driven medley of the Latin standard "El Choclo" with "Over The Rainbow," or perhaps his version of "Hang 'em High" played as a tango, or "Bus Stop" and the orientalism of "Bazaar 54" combined in a sort of crazed Klezmer.

Also included in these 12 tracks is "One More Name," a swing number about a night following a drinking bout. The instrumental "Misery & Hope" has the accordion supported by a sousaphone. There are a few with lyrics, including "Carnival Ride" (about sideshow freaks) and "He Was Here." And "Spook Waltz (Gesture Pie)," which merges the cartoony with the creepy.

Lost in the Graveyard is as good as it is crazy. The songs are not parodies, but are perfectly executed with rhythm and swing. The musicians seem to love whatever form of music they take on. The Carnivaleros would be a hit at any wedding. And if that is not good enough for you, then what is?

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Dave Howell

21 July 2007

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