The Hellblinki Sextet
Hickory Focus 04-28-05

Let’s say your were a member of some gypsy circus traveling through the Romanian countryside. Yeah. Let’s say one night you rounded up all of the troupe’s musicians and put them together at a tavern-stop for a night of wine, music, and revelry. Aw, see you do have an imagination. Now imagine what this would sound like. Having trouble? Well, that’s where Hellblinki comes in.

Hellblinki comes to the Taproom this Saturday the 30th from Augusta by way of Asheville and the band’s “Pirate Blues” music is sure to be one of the most unique acts you’ll ever see there. It is the brainchild of Andrew Benjamin and, though billed as a sextet, has a changing number of members for different performances and a variable roster of musicians. Benjamin even does the occasional solo performance; playing guitar and singing while simultaneously using a spare drum kit. In other combinations, the band can include bass guitar, brass & woodwinds, violins, samples, additional percussion, keyboards, etc. Benjamin has a voice well suited to the music; a deep, Tom Waits like rasp that is sometimes contrasted with a female band member’s more lilting, operatic style. 

When describing this music, I’ve seen and heard terms like “gypsy,” “carnivalesque,” and “skewed waltz” used. The Hellblinki website sums it up thusly: “Broken tooth blues in a tux, Choral Fantasies for agnostic angels, and peg-leg waltzes on the rim of Mt. Vesuvius.” And I reckon that’ll do.

—joe sample