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March 21, 2013
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Theater of the Bohemian comes to Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Vagabond Opera was founded 10 years ago by European-trained opera singer and composer Eric Stern, who described the band's sound as "a hybrid of Eastern European cabaret, Arabic music, and jazz."The Portland-based band performs at 7 p.m. tonight at Mesa Theater & Lounge, 538 Main St."We draw from a lot of influences from around the world," Stern said.Stern, who plays piano and accordion, said he combined his background in opera with those other styles to create a "sheer, visceral power of the trained, naked voice to unleash on the audience a powerful experience.""It's opera liberated and reinvented for everyone," according to the band's website.The band is also comprised of upright bass player Drew Nelson, drummer and composer Mark Burdon, saxophonist Robin Jackson, Skip vonKuske on cello and Dr. Xander Gerrymander who is in charge of merchandising and stage theatrics. The group also includes both male and female vocalists and a range of guest artists that include, at times, belly dancers.Often referred to as a "bohemian cabaret," ensemble members dress in vintage attire as part of the act."People used to get dressed up for shows all the time," Stern said. "For us it's part of the aesthetic; it's in line with the music."The ensemble's repertoire includes "Paris hot jazz, gut bucket swing, tangos, Ukrainian folk-punk ballads," plus theatrics, according to the band's website.The Washington Post described the group as "a band of ceaseless charisma, boundless energy, impeccable musicianship and more than a little touch of both the naughty and exotic." Vagabond Opera was also featured on National Public Radio. The group has released four full-length albums, and tours regularly across the United States, as well as Europe and Canada.Stern credits the band's home base of Portland for some of its success. "It's a very inspiring city - the water, the food, the artists there. It's a wonderful community of dancers, musicians, artists. We get together with one other," Stern said.

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 21, 2013 03:10PM Published Mar 21, 2013 03:05PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.