For more than 10 years, the members of Slavic Soul Party have played a weekly Tuesday night gig at a Brooklyn bar called Barbes. Well, most Tuesdays.
Tonight they'll be at Gooski's in Polish Hill, blasting out the Balkan brass sound that is their signature.
"This will be our first time back in almost 10 years, and we're pretty psyched," said Matt Moran, speaking on his cell phone this afternoon as he and the other eight members of SSP traveled in their van from New York. "Gooski's is legendary with the guys. The last time we were there, people were dancing on the pool tables and pouring beer on people's heads."
Such is the impact Slavic Soul Party's trumpets, trombones and tuba can have on a crowd.
The folks at "All Things Considered" summed them up as playing "madcap rhythms, hyperactive horns, a sense of the absurd, and just a hint of abstract jazz."
"Slavic Soul Party is pretty much the only brass band around that combines Balkan brass and American music," Mr. Moran said. "We have our own take on the whole ecstatic brass band experience and we've sort of been pioneering it for 10 years now.
"We're one of these bands that has a fervent cult following, but it's not like we're well-known. We're certainly not pop stars. But we've been doing what we've been doing for a long time and we've got a lot of street cred, I can tell you that."
The roots are in the folk tradition of Balkan-Romanian music, but those Old World gypsies didn't just squeeze accordions. They could funk it up, too.
"We do some traditional songs with our own arrangements that sort of make the songs kind of new," Mr. Moran said. "And then we play original music, too. We mix it up. Jazz and funk and hip-hop. We like to blur all those lines."
Naturally, over 10 years, the group has experienced some turnover. But the sound remains the same.
"Playing brass band music is intense. It asks a lot of the brass players," said Mr. Moran, who plays bass drum. "They're pushing super hard on their lips and lungs all the time, you know. It's not for everyone. And it's not the most economical thing to do. It's a lot easier to get up there with four people, a guitar and keyboard or whatever.
"Some people get burned out on it. But it's an incredibly potent thing to do, and that comes across at the shows, and people have a good time."
But it makes it hard to tour, especially when there aren't that many paying gigs out there.
"A lot of the money has dried up in the Midwest, so we don't end up getting out as much as we used to," Mr. Moran said. "Pittsburgh is our gateway to the Midwest, the first stop on this [weeklong] tour.
"There are some rabid Slavic Soul Party fans in Pittsburgh. And we haven't been back in years. Every couple months on Facebook we'll see, 'Come back to Pittsburgh.' So we're psyched."
Slavic Soul Party will be joined at Gooski's, 3117 Brereton St., by Lungs Face Feet and DJ sets with Pandemic. The show starts at 9 p.m. and there is a $10 cover.
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/