Love boat: Shakin' the money-makers

at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
Friday, April 16

"For the first three days, you look at the people dancing to the band, laughing at their foolishness. Then, at four days on the open sea, you start joining in yourself."

I've never been on a cruise ship, preferring my holidays slightly less planned than "21:45- Shuffleboard / 22:15- Cocktails in the hot tub," but my date felt immediate unease at the Latin band Lua's audience participation-heavy (dancing that is) performance at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar April 16. I think she was afraid of repeating her past embarrassing cruise antics.

When we arrived at TBTB, the group had already set up, and was doing a seemingly helter-skelter soundcheck before going on. I couldn't tell if the group was playing a tune or just measuring the levels of their instruments, but soon enough Lua launched into the first number, a bosa nova with a light feel.

Lua's sound is composed of electric guitar, bass, accordion, mandolin, drums, and a female vocalist– this last piece of the group's puzzle has a voice that's quite refreshing, casting off the standard female jazz inflections and phrasing for something more modern and pop-oriented.

"We will be playing songs from different parts of Latin America, such as Mexico and Brazil, and ones from our own hearts," spoke the group's vocalist, before launching into a song which I believe featured vocals in Spanish, though Portuguese was also a possibility (in spite of five years of the former language, I am about as fluent as a clogged drain).

With guitar runs that were noticeably keyboard-like, and backing vocals that did not follow the singer's principal melody provided by the accordion player and mandolinist, the tune had a distinctly far-away sound, which the group pulled off admirably.

In fact, speaking on a purely technical level, Lua was pretty great: Each song found the band's sound extremely tight and saw the members playing off each other, their excitement about performing evident in the tunes. As the evening wore on, the stream of dancers in front of Lua went from a trickle to a regular Biblical flood, as at least 20 souls decided "It's Friday, I ain't got s**t to do."

Couples danced in close proximity to singles, and you could almost hear them thinking "Now might be my chance to meet Mr./Ms. Right."

In case you're wondering, I didn't get up and dance– maybe only being adrift on the ocean, four days distant from the social confines of dry land, could have gotten me up there. I hope, for humanity's sake, as well as my own, never to find out.

Dancing to Lua at TBTB