Not Six, Not Finnish
cool as the name sounds, The Hellblinki Sextet isn’t really a sextet.
The “psycho cabaret” band from Asheville, N.C., with elements of folk,
gypsy, free jazz, punk rock and swing mixed into its sound, is actually
currently a trio or a solo act by bandleader Andrew Benjamin, who
performs in a top hat and tuxedo, face painted white, eyes lined in
kohl, a pointy goatee rounding off the look.
In the past,
Hellblinki has performed as a true sextet, but nowadays Benjamin
performs with Valerie Meiss, who contributes operatic vocals and plays
the glockenspiel and various other instruments, and Brad Lunsford on
bass and percussion. Their music is weird and quirky, with lyrics about
the pirate’s life or bad kids who aren’t getting anything for
Christmas. Many of the songs sound like they belong with something
animated or made for kids but with a dark, sinister twist. This isn’t
so surprising, since Sesame Street songs are some of the band’s biggest
The band, created eight years ago, has been
evolving for quite some time. Benjamin created The Hellblinki Sextet to
perform live after a debut album, featuring music he and his friends
recorded at a party, failed to gain as much attention as he’d hoped.
Although the band has since shrunk to half its original size, it has
actually been a bonus, allowing them to tour more and making it easier
to find a good groove together.
The Hellblinki Sextet performs at 8:30 pm Sunday, Aug. 10, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Inka Bajandas
Moore's personality, along with Fernando, the Canadian tuba player, and
all of the contributors to “Oratory,” shines through. The album is very
high energy--a mix of vaudeville, Eastern European influence, and the
punk music that Benjamin grew up on, in the '80s.
”We're just a really loud punk-folk band, I think,” says Benjamin.
loud” is the key phrase, whether discussing the layers upon layers of
sound on “Oratory,” or the band's live show, constructed with those
“I like the analogy that the song
is kind of like a coat hanger which you can keep piling stuff onto,
until it completely falls apart,” says Benjamin.
But how does that sound translate in a live show?
feel that the live show and recording are two completely different
media, and they really should not sound alike,” says Benjamin. “What we
do live is very different. The songs are there and recognizable, and
someone who has listened to the record will not feel out of place or
like it's a different thing entirely, but it's a different experience.”
Hellblinki Sextet can be experienced with Fresno's James Brittain Gore,
this coming Monday, Aug. 11, at the Jambalaya in Arcata. The show
starts at 10 p.m.