The unexpected direction of the music you will hear – as I did – dovetails perfectly into Mr Ropars’ own belief that this imagery is one that shares not only with the Celtic peoples, but also with the gypsies of the Balkans, the Bedouin roots music of the Middle East. It’s the proverbial caravan he’s travelled with, as he says, “From Brittany, to the Balkans and Baghdad.” It’s the cultural collision that began with The Lemon Bucket Orkestra, the Canadian self-described “Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Party-Punk-Super Band” he helped found with Mark Marczyk and Dre Flak of Freeman Dre and the Kitchen Party, in Toronto. Now Mr Ropars has moved his platform from a large ensemble to the more intimate setting band of Moskitto Bar. The group has released a few videos on its YouTube channel and performs wherever, and whenever they are given the opportunity.
On June 17th they will, for instance, grace the Aga Khan Museum where they will be part of the Home show with AraBest, a connection point for the Arabic communities, and Frazer Garison Sundown and The Ukwehuwe Connection, a group dedicated to highlighting the culture of the Haudenosaunee through song and dance, presented by Native Women in the Arts, an organization devoted to showcasing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis arts and artists. Tangi Ropars tells me that Moskitto Bar will bring its message of hope and love as always. He has long since forged not only a common bond with people around him, and is adept of making friends of total strangers. “I don’t mean to sound simplistic,” he tells me, “But we really do speak a common language when we play music together; Ahmed, Yura, Fethi and I.
“And we go really where the music takes us – sometimes to a happy place, sometimes to a sad place. Right now Yura is struggling with what is happening to his homeland in Ukraine, and Ahmed…well, you can understand. So love is very important and we hope to take our listeners to that place where we are all truly at home.” Moskitto Bar and its members have written some new music, Mr Ropars tells me. He has been writing new music – some of which will be performed at the upcoming concert at the Aga Khan Museum on June 17. The group is also planning to record its first album and although Mr Ropars did not share much about the themes and other aspects of this venture, one can only imagine what a fascinating journey this will be – both for the musicians and the listeners.
If past experience of their music is anything to go by, then we can expect the upcoming Moskitto Bar to be all about that which comes to being in the nature of connections; in music that is like an elegant railway system that links, Celtic, roots music, Gypsy music and the traditional music of the Balkans with jazz and Middle Eastern music. But to describe it as such might sound like the project will be over-cooked when in actual fact the music of Moskitto Bar is a masterpiece of subtlety. Through this music you can expect Mr Ropars’ take on it all to be rooted in the lineage of the cool, his instrument wheezing in elemental fashion as its melodies float benignly over the sound of the daf and a myriad of other percussion that Ahmed Moneka brings with him, and the cimbalom of Yura Rafaliuk together with the violin or mandola of Fethi Nadjem. The surprises will be effective, discreet and many. And watch out for the Celtic lament underpinned by a vocal line sung in the native of Breton, or Arabic, as beautiful ensemble passages develop from these delicate, single phrases.