“This is what we do, and want to do for the rest of our lives” are the words of James, The Nomadic Orchestra’s newest member.

Five talented musicians, each in their own right- Gabriel Du Toit, Joe Bolton, Greg Abrahams, Marlon Witbooi and James McClure team up for every live show to achieve their one and only aim: “Make people dance, make people dance… and dance [themselves]”

Before we get to the good bits though, let me say off the bat, I’m pretty chummy with one of the Nomads. Thanks to this I’ve gotten to experience Nomadic life first hand.

Just this year The Nomadic Orchestra has played numerous gigs all over Cape Town, including two festivals. They have been on national T.V, been recording, done collaborations and have even come up with new improved nick-names for every member in the band.

Coffee with the Nomads turned out to be almost as energising as one of their performances. With lots of laughs, personal jokes and honest truths that won’t be mentioned, I truly got to feel the force behind this growingly popular Balkan band. (And see Joe’s Harmonica)

Since the start of The Nomadic Orchestra, they have come a long way. Gabriel, the band’s tenor saxophonist says: “because of the gigs we’ve gotten, we’ve opened for certain bands and they have influenced us since then. We opened for Balkan Beat Box. That was an awesome experience to see them play, and I think we took a lot of stuff from them.”

They may be influenced by others but almost all of their music is completely original, composed by Joe and Greg. They also have tunes written by the band’s founding member Tim Hutchinson who has moved on to other projects.

A question arises as to what it is that makes this band so unique- because when they play, they will never fail to get the crowd moving.  When I say moving I mean arms swinging, feet pounding, hips swaying, bums shaking and hands clapping.  This was imminent when not a single person, young or old, stayed seated during their set at FlamJangled Tea Party. “We do about 70% improvisation.” Says Joe, the band’s tuba player. “Its high energy improv” says Gabriel.  Plus “it’s the best thing we do in our lives; it’s all we wanna do.” The audience definitely feels this.

The band recently collaborated with the popular Mr. Cat and the Jackal. “Yoh we love that band so much, was a great experience and quite different working with them. When we work together we bring something and they bring something else. But when we come together it just makes sense, you know, it feels good.”  This April we can expect to see them together again, joining The Bone Collectors for the Dirty Bounce Parties. “It’s going to be three bands all on one stage by the end of the night.” So if you’re in the mood to bounce and swing don’t miss it. It will be at the Klein Libertas on the 13th of April and Mercury Live on the 20th. In addition to this, they will be playing with P.H Phat on the 4th of May.

The eclectic mix of instruments and sounds, driving tuba beats, energetic improvised solos and catchy tunes make The Nomadic Orchestra a recipe for success. “I think we have great potential to be successful because we appeal to such a large audience and large range of ages. There’s no language. That is what’s important. It doesn’t discriminate on the basis of language.”

Looking to do a National Tour in June/July, I hope to see the rest of South Africa dancing like Gypsies, becoming mesmerized by their infectious energy. As Gabriel says, be it “children, old people, Afrikaans people, English people or Xhosa people. They all just dance.”

By Sarah Farrell

Go to www.nomadicorchestra.com to listen to their tracks or check them out on Facebook.

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