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Spotlight

Romashka

By Tad Hendrickson
Published March 13, 2007

While bands like Gogol Bordello and Balkan Beat Box have attracted attention both in their hometown of New York City and abroad, there are several other great Eastern European folk bands from the New York area mining gypsy and Balkan music. Romashka is on the short list to be the next big thing coming up in the scene. Led by Lithuanian-born singer Inna Barmash, who first co-founded the Klez Dispensers and has appeared with several other Eastern European bands, Romashka is straight out of the Romanian and Russian gypsy traditions. The band cranks it up with high-energy tunes for folks to dance to during its live shows, although it will occasionally brings it down for a slow ballad to keep the romance alive. The group’s self-titled debut came out in 2005 and gained strong notices. Barmash has even been compared to Edith Piaf because of the strong voice and passion she brings to the songs, but, still in her 20s, she smiles and bounces around as much as the rest of the band, dispelling any thoughts of an icy, diva-like stage persona. The rest of the nine-piece band is made up of players with resumes at least as strong the singer’s (Flying Karamazov Brothers, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road, Frank London). The band is currently working on its second CD, though there is no title or release date at this time. For those who can’t wait, the first album is available through CD Baby and iTunes.