Baba Yaga's Stew | Baba Yaga's Stew

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Folk: Contra Dance World: World Fusion Moods: Type: Improvisational
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Baba Yaga's Stew

by Baba Yaga's Stew

Bubbling and boiling with dance music from around the globe, three women scare up fiery songs, haunting melodies, and intoxicating grooves while staying true to their homegrown roots in American Contra Dance Music!
Genre: Folk: Contra Dance
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lörincreve, Amari Szi
3:21 $0.99
2. Tirontanita, Anaconda
3:52 $0.99
3. La Bruja
3:38 $0.99
4. Koga Ke Odish Mome Za Voda, Üsküdar
4:54 $0.99
5. Calusul
3:22 $0.99
6. Ochi Chyornye
4:40 $0.99
7. Snowflake, Inver Bank, Mamli Mukhasa
4:06 $0.99
8. Fae Moon, Bombay Dog
4:39 $0.99
9. Lam Vong Dor Pra Suk, Lemon Balm Radio
3:49 $0.99
10. Kon Alote Praner Prodip
4:58 $0.99
11. Kwangena Thina Bo
3:35 $0.99
12. Ya Fazeri Lama Thul
4:21 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Stumbling through a dark forest, Lucia heard the wailing of a lone clarinet. It was enchanting - dipping then soaring in a wicked 11/8 time signature….Violin leaping out of its case, Lucia had to fiddle along til she found Dianna, sitting on a log, playing Gankino Horo. They sang and laughed for hours, then decided to make a band. Longing for a drummer to join in their witchcraft, they searched over hills and dales to finally find Janet - an Aussie-born drummer, with vicious chops in blues, jazz, and Cuban Batá. Now the stem was boiling!

This album is dedicated to the many young lady musicians daring to follow their passions.

Baba Yaga is a witch from Slavic folklore who lives in a house on chicken legs. Our band was inspired by Baba Yaga’s mischievous spirit, and the enchanting music that evolved with her in Eastern Europe. In this album, we invite you for a broom’s ride around the world in 80 minutes! We’ll take stops in Russia, Mexico, Thailand, South Africa and many more while staying true to our roots in American contra dance music!

Mixed and mastered by Gene “Zhenya” Nemirovsky
Album artwork by Dianna Davis
Recording and graphic design by Lucia Thomas
Thanks to Joyce Lindsey, recorded hand percussion on tracks 4 and 11.
Thanks to Sam Hyson for music research and recommendations.
Thanks to the contra dance community for encouragement, to Tearoomochik for space and equipment, and to our musical mentors who have nurtured this album.

1) Lörincreve, Amari Szi - Hungarian Roma
On a bicycle tour through Eastern Europe, I stumbled across a dark and smoky danshus in Budapest. The hulking double bass and 3-stringed violas chugged away faster and faster as the primas violinist compelled the dancers to whirl around the room, in sets that looked much like square dances! Then came the dance off, for which men kicked up their legs, slapping thighs, calves, and heels! Part of the lyrics “Amari Szi” say: “When the old man dances, he taps on for 21 days. I’ll slap away at my boot legs, and you’ll hear it even in the morning.” - L

2) Tirontanita y Anaconda - Peru
A Peruvian jungle party! We heard these Amazonian flute tunes played by the band Grupo Pacha and we thought we would brew up a Baba Yaga’s Stew arrangement. - D

3) La Bruja - Mexico
La Bruja means “the witch.” The song is in the son jarocho style from Veracruz and is traditionally danced wearing a candle on one’s head and a long white skirt that flaps back and forth like huge wings. The Spanish lyrics describe being captured by a man-eating witch! “She takes me to her house and turns me into a flower pot then a pumpkin. She takes me to the corner. She sits me on her knees, and gives me kisses!” - L

4) Koga Ke Odish Mome Za Voda and Üsküdar - Macedonian and Turkish tunes.
Two love songs we put together from different regions. Koga Ke Odish Mome Za Voda is an Eastern (Aegean) Macedonian song translated to “When you go, girl, to fetch water.” Üsküdar is a Turkish song about a woman and her secretary traveling to “Üsküdar”. I studied Macedonian music with master musician Bajsa Arifovska while traveling traveling in Skopje, Macedonia. When she and I met, we realized we were kindred spirits when we compared how many instruments we each played! - D

5) Calusul - Romania
This acrobatic Romanian sword dance is meant to create the impression of flying in the air like the dancing of the zîne, the Romanian fairies. The patron of the Călușari dancers is Doamna Zinelor, “The Queen of the Fairies.” I learned to play this song from my neighbor Horaciu H. Dean, a Romani “Gypsy” violinist from Romania. Professional Romani musicians in Romania are called Lāutari. He hyperbolized the super-human rapidity necessary for lāutari trills, while philosophizing that the life-force which created the universe is the same energy source for all creative endeavors. -L

6) Ochi Chyornye - Dark Eyes, Russian. When I first started learning Eastern European folk tunes, I was immediately captivated by this most famous Russian folk tune. It was the first song I performed that wasn’t in English and helped inspire my path in world music. I love telling stories when singing and performing music, and in this song, you can be especially dramatic. - D

7) Snowflake, Inver Bank, Mamli Mukhasa - Original, Irish, Georgian
Snowflake was the first tune I wrote, at 13 or so, while learning to play Irish fiddle. We have combined one of my favorite Irish jigs, “Inver Bank”, with a Georgian folk song called “Mamli Mukhasa”. I learned this song while singing with Chicago’s Georgian choir Alioni. Mamli means “oak tree”, which represents the country of Georgia. The song describes storms and insects ravaging the tree, yet mamli stands strong. - L

8) Fae Moon, Bombay Dog - Original, Celtic
I wrote Fae Moon after falling in love with Yeats’ compilation of Irish Fairy tales. I first heard “Bombay Dog” at a festival in Bristol, England, in a tent so densely packed, I couldn’t even see the flute player who began it. I fell in love with the melody instantly, and upon searching for the brilliant flautist, I located the girl, about 12 or so, leading the tune wicked fast! - L

9) Lam Vong Dor Pra Suk, Lemon Balm in the Radio - Thai, Old Time Original
I learned the first tune from my Thai neighbor Phiwan Phonwiang, who plays a reeded bamboo flute called the Khaen. This rhythm - Doom ching ching Doom, Doom ching ching Doom - is called lam vong. To accompany, I wrote a clawhammer banjo tune named after Dianna’s charming cat, “Lemon Balm.” - L

10) Kon Alote Praner Prodip - Indian
This tune is based on a song by Rabindranath Tagore, a genius Bengali poet and composer. “While you come down to the earth, Oh hermit, Oh lover, oh crazy dear! From what source do you light up your lamp?” The song is in a raga called kambaj. I learned this raga, or Indian scale, while studying Hindustani classical music with my sitar guru, Hindol Chattopadhyay, in Kolkata, India. - L

11) Kwangena Thina Bo - Southern African, Xhosa language
Here’s a mash up of a South African choral song with an Old-Time tune Lucia composed. With this piece, we want to honor the African roots in American folk music. The lyrics, in the Xhosa language, translate as "We come in, the spirit is moved. O ululate, the spirit is moved!" When I sing this song, my spirit is moved. I hope yours is too! - D

12) Ya Fazeri Lama Thul - Syrian
This track features an instrument called the oud, the Arabic lute. I learned this song from a Syrian nay (an Arabic flute) player in Chicago, Naief Rafeh. The lyrics, in Levantine Arabic, are a conversation between the singer and the morning - fajer. The lyrics describe this specific time in the very early morning, at the sound of the first call to prayer, when the fajer rises upon the whole earth and gives life to all color. The lyrics implore the morning to visit all people, to take care of them, but to always start with her lover and place him at the beginning of everything. - L

Lucia Thomas, violinist/multi-instrumentalist, grew up skipping between Irish pub sessions and orchestra halls. After classical music school, she narrowly escaped a life of symphonic martyrdom by hopping atop a bicycle bound for the land of blood and honey—the Balkans! Ever since she has been playing with traditional musicians from all over the world. She is artistic director of the Chicago Folklore Ensemble, which celebrates immigrant culture by interweaving oral history and world music.

Lucia began playing for contra dances in Denver, Colorado with the national touring band Gypsy Caravan. She has played Catapult Showcase and Stellar Days and Nights, among other festivals. Lucia infuses the contra dance floor with her love of balkan, latin, and south-east asian music, as well as jazz, and old time. Her passionate fiddle inspires dancers to soar across the floor, while connecting with traditional music from all around the world.

Dianna Davis began her career as a classical pianist and clarinetist but has since expanded into styles such as folk, Eastern European, jazz, and improvisation. After experiencing a gypsy band thrill an audience and move them to dance wildly to music, she knew that that's the kind of music she wanted to play. A four time Indiana Arts Commission Grant winner and a Creative Renewal Fellow, Dianna received her Masters of Music in clarinet performance from Indiana University, and she began teaching and playing in Indianapolis on the piano, clarinet, piano accordion, voice, flute and foot percussion.

A 2017 Creative Renewal Fellow and a four time Indiana Arts Commission Grant winner, Dianna received her Masters of Music in clarinet performance from Indiana University, and she began teaching and playing in Indianapolis on the piano, clarinet, piano accordion, voice, flute and foot percussion. A veteran of the Indianapolis music scene, Dianna has played with many groups including the Indianapolis Women's Chorus, Thin Air, the Emily Ann Thompson Band, the Indianapolis Ceili Band, the Coffee Zombies and has sat in with many local classical, folk, jazz, and international music groups. Currently, Dianna plays with Baba Yaga's Stew, il Troubadore, Troika, multiple local contra bands and local ensembles, headlines a jazz combo and collaborates with multiple dance groups to provide live music.

Janet Cramer, upon the completion of her Masters in Music Performance from Wichita State University, knew it was time to test her skills as a gigging musician and moved to Chicago. Within a couple of months, she quickly became an integral player in Chicago’s Blues scene. She graced the stage with some of Chicago's most notable Blues artist such as Chico Banks, Big Time Sarah, Rodney "Hotrod" Brown, Liz Mandeville, Lindsey "Hoochie Man" Alexander and Nellie Tiger Travis. Along with the Blues scene, Ms. Cramer has also been part of the city’s Rock, Pop, Latin and Americana scenes performing in numerous venues and street festivals with bands/artists such as Jenny Dragon, Neil & Janet de los EEUU, Girlband, Roy Vombrack Orchestra, Sandra Antongiorgi, Congress of Starlings, Grupo Cha Cha, and Jodi Jean Band.



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