Black Violin at the Schnitz

“For us the violin is the vehicle for a bigger message, which is not to be afraid to be different,”

~ Kev Marcus.

Six years ago, Tara was dancing ballet at the Laurelhurst Dance Studio, which is a part of Portland Parks and Recreation. It was a great environment, with talented dance instructors. For one seasonal performance, Tara’s instructor chose a song for the kids to dance to by a group called Black Violin. The song was Dirty Orchestra.

If you’ve ever participated in practicing something, or were a parent watching someone practice something, you can guess how many times I heard that song. I ended up purchasing the song on iTunes, and I even made CD copies for all the kids and handed them out at one of the early practices, so they could take their dance home if they liked.

After a couple years, I still couldn’t get enough, though I had purchased the album. It’s fun to discover musicians whose appeal turns out to be long term.

Tuesday I received an email from Portland’5, the local arts email that gives me a heads up when anything is happening in PDX, from opera to ballet to music to Broadway. It announced Black Violin, the very next night! In person! I bought tickets without even thinking about it.

Stage before Black Violin's show
Stage before Black Violin’s show

The show was even better than I was hoping for. Black Violin are packed full of energy to back up their irresistible music. Both classically trained violinists, these two men, Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus, lean more toward hip hop and R&B. So, they pull it all in together: the appealing sounds of the strings with the funky, soulful beats. The sounds were rounded out with a DJ on stage (and I’ll admit it’s probably the first time I’ve ever attended a concert with a DJ in the band), and a drummer who held his own. In my opinion, the mix is fabulous!

If you would like to read the program insert for more information about this group, and in particular their new album Stereotypes, I scanned it here: Black Violin 1 Black Violin 2

Most of the performance was their own work, but the guys also covered a lot of familiar songs that were fun for the audience members who didn’t know Black Violin songs very well. My favourite was a mash-up of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and Barry White’s Let’s Get It On. I was singing at the top of my lungs for all of it.

The only down side (and this is a pretty high down side) is that they weren’t willing to let us sit through the show. Though I had recently had a small operation on my toe, I expected to be seated most of the evening, and assumed my toe would be alright. Nope. “Get up! This is a party!” yelled Kev. I had no choice, but was forced to shake my tailfeathers for hours.  My toe was angry the next day, but it was worth it. The show was a blast.

Unlike every other show I’ve attended at one of the Portland’5 events, the artists told us right from the start that we SHOULD be using flash photography, and video, and posting it online as much as possible, and to tag it with #blackviolin. I love it when people grab onto trends and use them, rather than fight them. I managed to get a couple of poor quality videos, so you get a sense of the show.


9 thoughts on “Black Violin at the Schnitz

    1. Happy to introduce you! The group is tons of fun live, and the music is outstanding on your home stereo. I have not yet heard the new album, Stereotypes, but it’s on my To Do list to purchase.

    1. You are right, Curt! The toe was moaning and complaining all the next day, but I forgave my toe because I would do it all over again. The show was excellent. I was already a fan of the music, and anything live is twice as good in my opinion.

      Being able to see the DJ at work was impressive too. Since it’s not my usual musical taste, I was not that familiar with how a DJ could function as an additional musician in a band. Now I’ve seen one in action, and it makes more sense. I’m also in awe of how it’s done: the skill to manipulate a turntable and vinyl (and whatever else parts of the electronic system are involved) to complement live artists, to amplify the tastes of the audience, and to work like the drummer to keep things flowing, to set up for the next song… No, really, can you tell: I am so impressed.

      1. It sounds like a unique, toe tapping experience. I’ve never watched the DJs at Burning Man. They are supposed to be really good. But it will have to be next year. My summer is already too full to go this time. –Curt

    1. Toe is well on its way to healing. I had part of my ingrown toenail removed so it’s not cutting into me anymore. The results were immediate relief. I have already scheduled for the other big toe to get cut. It took me about twenty years to get up the courage, but having no pain in my big toe is so wonderful, I’m willing to do it again. Even IF there is another concert. ha ha

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