STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
The wild, infectious, Serbian/Bulgarian dance music of the 14-piece West Philadelphia Orchestra has a monthly residency that’ll keep you coming back for more.
“Balkan Dance Party” is the name of their regular gig at Underground Arts every first Thursday night of the month.
“It’s a unique niche that we found. Instead of a dance party, where you’re going to the clubs and DJs and stuff, you have rows of horns,” said trumpeter Patrick Hughes.
If you’re familiar with NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts, you’ll giggle at the YouTube footage of this army of musicians jammed into the room.
May’s Underground Arts show featured Philly drag queen Martha Graham Cracker and June 4’s guest artist will be the band Grandchildren, which features a few members of WPO. “It’s an upbeat, danceable group that has a nice draw,” Hughes said of Grandchildren.
“We just did four tunes for David Dye … all new originals,” he said, mentioning a WPO guest spot on the nationally-syndicated public radio program “World Cafe,” which is produced at WXPN in Philadelphia. The show aired locally May 21.
But if you think you have WPO figured out, guess again. The group’s latest recording “Bathtub Jams,” is an unpredictable batch of remixes featuring electronic musician RJD2, mash-up technology, and even references Busta Rhymes’ hit “Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check.” It’s streaming on the WPO website.
According to Hughes, the next album will feature another departure, an English language original.
“The band is definitely on the way up … and we’re looking forward to future festivals in other places,” he said.
They’re on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/west-philadelphia-orchestra.
IF YOU GO
What: West Philadelphia Orchestra Balkan Dance Party.
When: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. the first Thursday of the month.
Where: Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., Philadelphia.
Info: www.westphiladelphiaorchestra.com, www.undergroundarts.org.