Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hazmat Modine & Alash Ensemble at the Highline Ballroom

Alash Ensemble & Wade Schuman
Wade Schuman began playing harmonica at age 10 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He moved to New York and in the late 1990s formed an eclectic blues and roots band, Hazmat Modine. "Hazmat" is a portmanteau of "hazardous material", and "Modine" is the name of a company that manufactures commercial heaters but may be used to refer to the heater itself. Hazmat Modine's varied combination of source music led to the band touring remote areas of the world. The band's second CD was awarded the Charles Cross award in France for best blues album of the year, and topped number one on the World Music Charts in Europe. When home in the New York area, however, Hazmat Modine usually performs in modest venues. Hazmat Modine released its third studio album, Extra-Deluxe-Supreme, on June 3, 2016.

Hazmat Modine is a large band -- tonight at the Highline Ballroom it comprised 12 musicians -- and it seemed each musician offered his or her own personal journey to the band's brew. As leader and main vocalist of the band, Schuman accentuated a southern barrelhouse blues and jazz, but then there was a musician playing a banjo and a banjitar, giving the same songs a country feel as well. The more dance-oriented songs had a touch of swing, and a trio from Tuva known as Alash Ensemble played their culture's folk music with native acoustic instruments as well. Hazmat Modine played the most intriguing music. It seemed like anything musical was possible and probable. Hazmat Modine is a roots band, but apparently the roots could draw from any culture and any time period.

Visit Hazmat Modine at