’’Klezperanto Arroz Con Coco’’ Video

Klezperanto tribute to Lucho Bermudez and the Golden Age of Cumbia

In conjunction with our upcoming show, we are excited to announce the release of the band's newest video, "Klezperanto Arroz Con Coco," a tribute to legendary Colombian clarinetist and band leader, Lucho Bermudez. Clarinetist Ilene Stahl's Klezperanto joined forces with our friends at Peace and Rhythm to present the world premiere of this long-awaited music video which showcases two of the best dancers in New England, along with delightful archival footage of Lucho Bermudez and his band from the 1950s and 60s. The piece is a collaboration with Los Angles-based director Matt Eskew and features an original arrangement of the dance tune by Klezperanto, plus a gorgeous performance by Anastasia Veremeyenko Christie and Crisen Mckenzie. Shot on location at The Pushkin, an elegant art-deco former bank building in the center of Greenfield, MA, the bi-coastal effort is a love letter to the Golden Age of Cumbia.

We recorded this version of Arroz Con Coco back in May of 2015 with an idea to use it in a music video with dancers. It has been a lengthy learning process, including a year of clarinetist Ilene Stahl's own salsa lessons. Ilene is the first to say her dancing won't be camera-ready for a long time yet, but she is honored to feature her dance teacher, the award-winning Anastasia Christie, originally from Tver, Russia, and her favorite dance partner, Crisen Mckenzie, also a dance teacher, from CT.

The Director

None of this would have been possible without the expertise of director Matt Eskew, who we first met online through our mutual friend, Nicole Laurenne, lead singer in ferocious west-coast garage bands, The Love Me Nots, and The Darts, and Motobunny. We never imagined we'd get a chance to work with this videomaker to the indie rock stars, but Nicole encouraged us to "just ASK him!," and before we knew it, Matt Eskew was planning a side trip to Greenfield as part of a Boston shoot over Columbus Day weekend. He had scacely twenty-four hours to spend with us and finish the shoot, but the California native was completely charmed by Greenfield: our historic buildings, our funky downtown, and all the beautiful scenery of Franklin County, MA we could possibly show him. We're excited to have him return, perhaps on a northeast tour with his own band, The Hellflowers. Meanwhile, our next video, a film noir set to an old klez tune re-imagined as 1970s TV-style cop show music, is already in progress. Klezperanto itself will appear in that one, along with an all-west coast crew of actors directed by Matt.

The Set

With such a charasmatic pair of dancers, we needed a location as beautiful and dynamic as the perfomance in it. Years ago, when Ilene first stepped into The Pushkin building, now a lovingly-renovated art space right in the middle of her town, she immediately knew she wanted to have her music in there somehow. The main space in the former bank already looked like a ballroom, with its polished marble floor and high ceiling illuminated by huge arched windows. All those hard surfaces and soaring roof would have made the room much too reverberant for a live performace by Klezperanto, but it was a perfect dance set, with the massive ornate vault doors as a sensational backdrop. For an added bonus, upstairs The Pushkin has a small but opulent paneled study (the former bank president's office? the board room?). That intimate space, with a parquet floor, warm wood tones, fancy marble fireplace, and ornamental plasterwork ceiling, all softly lit by a brass chandelier, gave us a chance to use a contrasting motif, and to get fantastic close-ups of the dancers' footwork. One entire wall of the room is a curved window. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to set, and Anastasia convinced Matt to stop everything and film her dancing silhouette in front of it. What a good call that was!

We want to thank our second cameraman Benjamin Goldsher and The Arts Block for generous assistance with this project.

The video is dedicated to our dear friend and Klezperanto's accordionist on this recording, Roberto Cassan (9/3/62 - 8/22/16), whose music made us all want to dance.