Vagabond Opera with Balti Mare at the Patterson Theater

In the big picture above, Vagabond Opera’s Ashia Grzesik, along with the rest of Vagabond Opera, gave a mesmerizing performance at the Patterson Theater that could have gone on all night long as far as I’m concerned. I would suggest getting your tickets early the next time they come through town, I have a feeling they’ll sell out fast.

It seems like every time we venture out in Baltimore these days, there are solid odds of being completely captivated by what we find. Friday night at the Patterson Theater was no exception. The performances of Vagabond Opera and Balti Mare may have made for my favorite Creative Alliance show ever.

Lilam Belly Dance complimented the show by opening and later sharing the stage with the evening’s headliners.

Eric Stern, ringleader extraordinaire, led the troupe through a set of songs, stories and improvisation that would enchant any audience. As well as being the front man for this amazing group of musicians, Eric is an acclaimed operatic tenor, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, jedi master, sushi chef, architect, black belt in kung fu and judo, cosmonaut, typist, toenail clipper, maker of love and skipper. That is to say, he’s incredibly adept at skipping, or so we’ve been told.

Among her more notable achievements, cellist and vocalist Ashia Grzesik preformed with Cirque de Soleil’s production of “O” in Las Vegas. It was here where that her interest in circus and cabaret was sparked , which eventually led her to Vagabond Opera.

This band has restored my faith in the wonderment of live music. We’ve been bombarded by homogenized, over-produced, cog-rock and other manifestations of mass marketed melodic refuse for so long that we can truly appreciate the talents of a cabaret act with a well-refined wit, stand-out musicianship and the ability to earn applause without flaunting tits and ass every two minutes in order to keep our attention.

One of the more touching moments in the evening was when Ashia Grzesik sang with cellist Skip vonKuske (not pictured). Eric Stern joined them by first singing at the back of the theater and then slowly making his way forward to join the duo on stage. Whatever it is they were singing was breathtaking and leads me to this week’s award.

Skip vonKuske is the winner of this week’s prestigious and highly coveted, “You Sir Are A Cellist To Be Reckoned With and We Wish We Would Have Obtained More Flattering Photos of You and The Other Band Members Who We’ve Neglected But We Could Write Volumes About This Band And Listen To Your Music For Hours And We Couldn’t Imagine Vagabond Opera Without You, Skip” award.

I was proud to have saved that glass of wine from spilling all over your Line 6 delay pedal, remember, Skip?

We first had the pleasure of stumbling into a performance by Balti Mare at Joe Squared on International Roma Day. What we saw was one of the most rousing performances by any local band that we can remember. Vagabond Opera had the great pleasure of having Balti Mare open for them because by the time they were finished everyone in the Patterson Theater was on their feet. How often does that happen?

Balti Mare is comprised of local music veterans and exists for the love of performing Roma Music. The music is most easily described as gypsy music, at it’s core, though it draws from several European and Asian musical traditions. The resulting sound emanating from Balti Mare is as soulful as anything you’ve ever heard and, though you may not understand everything they’re saying, the feeling they conjure is universal.

Sean Krus is a passionate and engaging frontman for Balti Mare and he does a hell of young Brad Pitt impression, don’t you think?

Art Cohen proves that at any given moment your grandpa is capable of completely blowing your mind. Balti Mare gets our vote for one of the must-see bands playing in Baltimore.