Ambling back with provisions from the Battlestar Krogeractica — "That place is so big now that it has separate weather systems," a friend remarked — I encountered a group of musicians clustering behind the fencing of Can Can's patio. An upright bassist, a cellist and a violinist were undertaking a witty version of “La Bamba” that turned the '50s hit into a gypsy-classical tune.
At one point, the bass player wondered, “Where’s everybody else?”
The redheaded cellist laughed and added, “They’re on their way.”
Along came a lanky guitar player. Then a fellow wearing a bowler hat carrying a small accordion soon joined the group, followed by a bespectacled reed player (clarinet and saxophone). By now, a scrum of the curious had gathered on the sidewalk.
Turns out this was Qiet (like “quiet” without the “u,” that makes want to say, “Ke-yet”).
They performed their original “Hollow Man," an excerpt of which is below:
They are current and former (mostly) music students at Marshall University of Huntington, W.Va., and this traveling component of the collective was returning home after three months on the road. I missed them when they stopped in at The Camel toward the beginning of their excursion, but having never heard of them before, heck, I may have seen them on the poster and not realized what I was missing. I recalled how a few years ago, I was introduced to the vigorous alt-bluegrass of Portland, Ore.’s Larry and His Flask as they poured out of their bus to hold an impromptu concert in front of Plan 9.
The six members of Qiet exuberantly held forth on Cary Street, hats and instrument cases available for benefactions, and it was quite an entertaining way to end the evening. They were violinist Alasha Al-Qudwah; upright bassist Jason Myer; cellist Ezgi Karakusp; saxophone/clarinet player Jake Arnoldt; and the bowler-hatted Mike Waldeck Jr., who played horn, slide whistle and accordion. Lead singer and guitarist Christopher Harris reminded me of a cross between David Byrne and Django Reinhardt.
Waldeck’s bowler flew off during one of his more enthusiastic moments, and I held it until he could dash over for retrieval. I certainly know the importance of head garb. Small children danced. Cameras flashed. People tossed money into the designated spots.
Then, Qiet thanked Can Can for not having them arrested and packed up. Waldeck told me they’re a rock band that performs in varying styles. I greatly appreciated this neo-cabaret approach and really hope they’ll be back at a venue where I can see them.
And all this occurred during the walk home. Near as I can tell, no noise ordinances were harmed.