Congratulations to BTW Alumnus Albert Allenback and Tank and the Bangas for Winning the NPR Tiny Desk Music Award (click here).
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

One of New Orleans' bands to watch, Tank and the Bangas just don't quite fit in a predictable slot. Even the Bangas themselves can't immediately describe what they do -- and that's exactly why they're so interesting.

As the band took a break from rehearsal Tuesday (Nov. 15), I posed the seemingly simple question: What do you call the type of music you play? Answers from the seven musicians and singers ranged from rock to folk and gospel. Finally, vocalist Anjelika "Jelly" Joseph declared a new genre: Soulful Disney.

It fits.

At the center of the formidable ensemble is Tarriona "Tank" Ball, a pixie-voiced powerhouse who says she grew up, appropriately enough, on Music Street in New Orleans' Eighth Ward. Ball was already an award winning spoken word poet before she formed the first incarnation of Tank and the Bangas back in 2011.

One of her first memorable shows was staged in the Pure Beauty Hair Salon on St. Claude Avenue on Valentine's Day that year. Some audience members report the show was a little rocky. Ball was like a sputtering spark plug, waiting for the right engine.

She didn't have to wait long. Some of the talented players who would eventually make up the backbone of the Bangas caught the beauty parlor show and recognized the potential. A band was born.

Ball's worldview was, and remains, somewhat outside of the norm. She co-composes love songs with band members, but they are not of the predictable moon-in-June romantic variety.  

In one, Ball expresses her deep-seated desire to be the matriarch of a blended family, just like Mrs. Brady in the saccharine 1970s "Brady Bunch" television show.  In another, she equates men's unseen flaws with defective Wal-Mart merchandise. In yet another, she contemplates the nauseating effects of a roller coaster and how the sensation equates with emotional ups and downs.

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