Stealing the show

Stealing the show

Caravan of Thieves performs at Canal Street Tavern

By Keith Bange

Ben Dean, Fuzz, Carrie Sangiovanni and Brian Anderson of Caravan of Thieves.

When people refer to a concert, whatever sort it may be, the words “show,” “act,” and “performance,” amongst others, are used to describe the event, but how often are they actually doing any of these things?

Many musicians are content with getting up on stage, playing their sets, listening to the other musicians of the evening, and calling it a day. Others feel that giving the audience more to take away than just an evening of music will leave a deeper, more magnificent and complicated impact on the crowd.

This is where this blurred barrier of what separates a concert and a performance lies, and where the term performer trumps the idea of someone playing music as just a musician. The dark, mischievous, and enthralling parade of Caravan of Thieves will be performing this Thursday, Feb. 10 at Canal Street Tavern, and they are not only reinventing this idea, they are completely redefining it.

As of April of this year, it will have been three years since Caravan of Thieves began wrapping their thick, clever ivy limbs around the delicate and generally monotonous indie/folk music scene in our fair country, captivating listeners of every make and model.

Taking most of their time to tour, with only one studio album in the coffer, they have entranced audiences across the country with a very new, very weird and beautiful brand of gypsy jazz and folk, and been presenting it to crowds wrapped up in an amazingly energetic storm of a live performance.

The group, based out of Bridgeport, Conn., has its roots with lead guitarist, known only as Fuzz, and rhythm guitarist Carrie Sangiovanni playing acoustic gigs together in 2004 as Rolla, a two-piece acoustic guitar and vocal harmony act. After performing as a duo for some time and releasing two studio albums, in 2008, the two recruited Brian Anderson, a native to Bridgeport and local musician to play the upright bass and Ben Dean, another musician who the two had played shows with previously, to play violin, and Caravan of Thieves was born. The group began to write songs and to try to develop their personality in terms of which direction they wanted the music to go, and they found their niche in a modern adaptation of old gypsy jazz and folk music.

In 2009 they recorded their first album, “Bouquet,” a 12-track serenade which displays the group’s versatility, skill and innovation as musicians, which quickly caught the ear of sharp listeners. Shortly after this, when they began to take their songs to stage, the band decided to make their performance more than just musicians playing the songs, as they were written. They wanted to captivate and interact with the audience, making it a total experience not to be forgotten.

Fuzz, lead guitarist and singer elaborated, “It was decided by the group that we wanted it to be an act, and it sort of developed spontaneously over time into what it is now. It’s a lot of fun and it seems to be working for us.”

Since then, Caravan of Thieves has been touring, ripping through countless venues and festival stages leaving audiences feeling a strange sort of cheerful wickedness after every show, all the while adding new theatrical devices to their ever-evolving bag of tricks.

In 2010, they released “Mischief Night,” a live recording produced on May 1 at a show in Fairfield, Conn. The live album showcased their theatrics and live energy in a way that their studio album cannot deliver. The songs from their freshman album, performed live, come to life in a jubilant and unprecedented manner, and they’ve added several well-known covers in order to introduce their sound to new audiences in a way that they can not only relate to, but appreciate and enjoy. Sangiovanni said, “The covers that we’ve chosen to perform are adapted to our style, and it’s really a good way to bring in new fans, and get them to enjoy songs that they already like, in a completely new way.”

Caravan of Thieves’ beautifully chaotic collection of original songs and covers, along with the high-flying theatrics of their live show will make this one of the most exciting and entertaining acts to roll through Dayton this year.

From tantalizing vocal harmonies, wailing violin solos, ground shaking bass lines, and blistering gypsy jazz guitar playing, Caravan of Thieves offers a show unlike any other, and showcases innovation and a spark of inspiration and creativity that is breathing life back into the idea of musicians being much more than just musicians, but performers.

Caravan of Thieves will perform Thursday, Feb. 10 at Canal Street Tavern. Show starts at 9 p.m., doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door. Visit www.canalstreettavern.com for more information.

Reach freelance writer Keith Bange at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com.

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