Black Masala

Black Masala

Swift Technique, Shamans of Sound

Fri Dec 21

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Union Stage

GA Advance $12 | GA Day of $15 | Premier Plus $30

This event is all ages

  • Full dinner and drink menu available
  • The Premier Plus section is a raised area with reserved seats and tables. There is a dedicated server for faster service.

Black Masala
Black Masala
You want to have a good time? You need brass.

This is what DC’s Black Masala blasts to the world, harnessing all the good times sunk in the Romany, second-line, bhangra, and funk horn parts that have gotten huge swaths of the planet up and dancing. With rock drive and a willingness to be as weird and wonderful as the party demands, Black Masala woos fans and new listeners with Trains and Moonlight Destinies, a tribute to the ins and outs of love, fate, and wanderlust.

The band evolved from a duo project in drummer and vocalist Mike Ounallah’s basement. “I got together with a trombonist friend of mine because we were both obsessed with gypsy brass music from Romania and Serbia,” he recalls. They studied the repertoire, one that reminded Ounallah of his childhood listening to his father’s Arabic pop records.

It just got crazier from there. The duo expanded rapidly, finally finding a stable roster of skilled players and the instrumentation that captured the full energy of the music they loved. Along the way, they recruited versatile, gutsy vocalist Kirsten Long and everything from a tuba player to an electric guitarist.

They kept at the Balkan and Romany music, as “Chaje Shukaje” testifies, a cover of rousing number by Macedonian musical icon Esma Redzepova. They also expanded into new sounds, exploring other styles with brass at their core. “Once we got a full horn section, we could really dive into other genres,” explains Ounallah. “It’s a hodge-podge of influences, but our emphasis is really on the songwriting and an all-out dance party at shows.” Black Masala’s originals hit both elements head on, telling stories of powerful women, rascally dudes, raucous nights, and life on the road that are tinged with a hint of the fantastical, as the video for the title track reveals.

Pushing these tales forward are the horns, arranged by Ounallah and trombonist Kirsten Warfield. The horns add a slinky, strong, driving presence on our songs and play an upfront role in the songwriting,” Ounallah explains. “To play horns in Black Masala, you have to have your foot in a number of styles. We draw from anything that comes to mind so we’re fairly limitless in our approach.”

The stylistic openness can be heard all over Trains and Midnight Destinies. “Midnight Bhangra” takes cues from Punjabi-infused South Asian pop with a hearty dose of club music and synthwave, like Red Baraat jamming with Trent Reznor or Lazerhawk. “That’s my favorite track on the record,” laughs Ounallah. “We tracked each drum separately, working fast and just doing one take, each for a few minutes. We didn’t want any fills. Then we put the track together in an hour and added these spacey vocals,” over the bhangra bounce.

Sometimes, however, you need to slow it down to keep the party going. Channeling that universal poignancy of unrequited love, “Tell Me Again” plays that crucial role, a bittersweet answer to the slow dance. “We sat down at the piano in our rehearsal studio and came up with new harmonies and melodies, while we were playing around,” Long says. “It’s more melancholy, about missing someone and unrequited love. It’s downtempo but really driving with a groove.” Long, her voice always soulful, really digs in.

The whole band brings everything to their live shows, which have gained a bit of a reputation for their fever-pitched intensity. “We come out into the crowd, with horns surrounding everyone. We make the live show as interactive and entertaining as possible,” Long notes. “We’re always playing around with our songs, remixing them and working in covers,” everything from The Band to Gogol Bordello, “that we make our own. There’s something for everyone. Maybe you vibe with second line or funk or bhangra, but we try to make sure you can enjoy it all.”

“I love going to a show and being excited about it,” exclaims Ounallah. “I can’t wait for our shows, when we can get up there and just go wild.”

Photo Credit: Alec Berry (Roxplosion)
Swift Technique
Swift Technique
Swift Technique, Philadelphia’s fiery funk extravaganza, is sprinting into their tenth year at full speed! Their unique blend of funk, soul, rock, hip-hop and relentless showmanship has propelled the group into their most successful period to date. Featuring the powerhouse vocals of Chelsea ViaCava & Nik Greeley, the band has released two new music videos for their singles, “Lucky Bump” and “Reason to Be.” With bombastic horns, thunderous bass and drums, driving guitar and keys, and more dance moves than you can shake a booty at, Swift Tech’s live performances are unmatched in energy, musicianship and pure feel-good fun. And with a recent appearance on the award winning Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, the group is commanding national attention.

After forming in 2007 Swift Technique has steadily toured, performed, and recorded all over the country. The band’s sound has evolved at every step, with the members constantly pushing their performing and musical limits. They have shared the stage with all varieties of world-class acts including: The Meters, Wu-Tang Clan, Snarky Puppy, Charles Bradley, DJ Questlove, Soulive, Lettuce, Break Science, Fishbone, The Disco Biscuits, Turkuaz, The Motet, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, The Main Squeeze, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Kermit Ruffins, Deep Banana Blackout, Kung-Fu, Orgone, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and Sophistafunk. In the past year they’ve also debuted at multiple major festivals including: Camp Bisco, Disc Jam, Xponential Fest, Domefest, and Rock & Roll Resort. They have successfully played at top-tier venues in some of the most musically rich cities in the country including: New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Washington DC, New Orleans, Nashville, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and of course, their hometown, Philadelphia.

For Swift Technique, every show is the craziest basement party you’ve ever been to. Representing Philadelphia in the funkiest way possible, Swift’s mission is to get you grooving, get you grinning, and fill you with the positive energy that world so sorely needs. Come out and see what thousands of satisfied funksters across the US have already experienced. With the hype around Swift Technique building at lightning speed, look for these gritty groove masters to take large leaps forward in the coming year!
After forming in 2007, Swift Technique has relentlessly toured, performed and recorded throughout the US. The extremely positive and contagious chemistry shared by the band has always been translated in the live setting. With the 2013 release of, “you boys be aight”, Swift Technique established themselves as an up and coming force in the recording industry. Although the group draws from many influences ranging Funk & Soul to Hip-Hop & Rock, their genre is uniquely Philadelphia.

Throughout their short history, Swift Technique has had the privilege to hold direct support slots for The Meters, Wu-Tang Clan, Fishbone, Soulive, The M&M’s (John Medeski, Stanton Moore, Papa Mali, Rob Mercurio), The Motet, Kermit Ruffins, Wale, Questlove of the Roots, Keri Hilson, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Orgone, Kung Fu, Mr. Lif, The Fela! Band, Turkuaz, Deep Banana Blackout, The Royal Southern Brotherhood (Cyril Neville, Devon Allman) and others. Swift Technique has also performed at the Philadelphia Experiment PEX Festival, Beardfest, Camp Jam in the Pines, Bear’s Picnic, Jibber Jazz’s Meeting of the Minds, Late Winter JibberJam, Boogie at the Bungalow, Princeton’s Communiversity Festival, The Northeast Kingdom Music Festival in VT, The Muddy River Jam Festival in NJ, Ars Nova ANTfest in New York City and Grassroots Festival in Ithaca, among others. After a string of hometown performances in 2007 and 2008, Swift Technique was named one of the top 10 Hip-Hop bands in Philadelphia by The Deli Magazine. Since their early days, the group has evolved from a Live Hip-Hop group to an old school Funk Ensemble in the tradition of James Brown, with the grit of Led Zeppelin.

In recent years, Swift Technique has worked with Live for Live Music (NYC), CEG (NYC), NOLA Funk (NYC), Hood Booking (DC), WXPN (Philadelphia), The Backbeat Foundation (New Orleans), Rock On Concerts (Boston), Rocks Off Concert Cruises (NYC) and WXPN (Philly). The group has also performed at the country’s top venues including B.B. King’s & Brooklyn Bowl (NYC), The Middle East (Boston), Blue Nile (New Orleans), The Mint (Los Angeles), Hotel Utah (San Francisco), The National Underground (Nashville), The Iron Horse (Northampton, MA), THe Pour House Music Hall (Raleigh, NC), The Spot Underground (Providence, RI), Nectar’s (Burlington, VT), Double Door (Chicago), Union Transfer, World Cafe Live & the TLA (Philly), 8X10 (Baltimore), The Hamilton & Gypsy Sally’s (DC). The creativity and drive of Swift Technique continues to flourish as the band prepares to enter their ninth year.
Shamans of Sound
Shamans of Sound
Shamans were once found in all cultures and communities around the world, and these spiritual healers provided guidance to the people, helping them navigate the twists and turns of life, death and culture. Coming straight from the heart of Babylon itself in Washington, D.C. the Shamans of Sound are a talented group of musicians who have joined together to create sonic alchemy with conscious, groove oriented riddims. The Shamans of Sound are united together in a common purpose; healing of the nation through their spiritual, mind altering sounds and vibrations.

A new project, the band members are all veterans of the DC scene, hailing from other bands such as Nappy Riddem, Incwell, Dub City Renegades, Awthentik, Feel Free and Tropik Sol. A few band members have deep local roots, while others grew up in far flung places like Germany, Philippines, Italy and Russia. Their diversity is their strength as they bring a variety of experiences and influences to the table, ranging from reggae and dub to hip-hop, r&b and dancehall. Its their shared love of reggae which brings everyone together with the goal of making the world a better place with conscious, uplifting music. In addition to all of the talented musicians in the band, The Shamans of Sound will feature a variety of vocalists to rock the mic on their original riddims.

Not just another reggae band, the best way to experience the Shamans of Sound is live in concert, which is always exciting as the group is not afraid to experiment and incorporate new elements into their sound. This is just the opening salvo from The Shamans of Sound, they have surprises and songs in store coming soon. Their music is like life, with its different facets, hitting you with lyrics that are conscious, that are tragic, but also full of joy and humor. The Shamans of Sound have arrived and they are ready to stimulate the mind, soothe the soul and relax the body….

The Shamans of Sound self-titled debut single is coming out just in time for Summer, and these are the vibes you want wafting through the air as you chill in your hammock...
Venue Information:
Union Stage
740 Water Street SW
Washington, DC, 20024
http://www.unionstage.com/