Named after the funky, heterogeneous neighbourhood in Paris, and founded by the two Frenchmen behind the label of the same name as well as the Chicha Libre project, Barbès is an unassuming little sweatbox in Brooklyn’s Park Slope district. Its reputation dwarfs its limited legal capacity, thanks to the booker’s enlightened discernment and rigorous standards. It’s a joint where you might walk in on a champeta party, an all-nite gnawa rite, or a Nigerian revision of the Georges Brassens songbook. And like any other live-music venue these days, its doors are shut tight.
For 16 years, every Tuesday without fail – squeezed in between Tropical Vortex Mondays and the Mandingo Ambassadors’ mid-week residency – the nonet Slavic Soul Party! have filled the cramped back room of Barbès with eruptions of furiously energetic Balkan brass funk. They even recorded their raw, chunky rendition of Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite there.
Now, of course, their perfect attendance record has been spoiled. As they wait impatiently to return to the stage, they’ve rooted through their files for live recordings of their sets at Barbès, and are sharing a new one every Tuesday. The first is this medley of material captured last summer. Okay, it’s not quite the same as the real thing, but kill a bottle of vodka, plant yourself face down on the floor, and crank this shit… it makes a passable placebo.