Group shows fab love for exotic music gear
CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL: The Good Day Sunshine Band interprets works of Beatles, others through use of worldly instruments
The Beatles certainly proved they could play with a sitar — but Moshe Denburg says the Fab Four really missed out not incorporating dan bau into their worldly music experiments.
“It’s a wonderful monochord (onestringed) Vietnamese instrument which sounds a lot like early Moog synthesizer,” Denburg says. “And it really adds a great deal to some of the Beatles songs covered by the Good Day Sunshine Band.”
One of the spinoff groupings of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (vi-co.org), the Good Day Sunshine Band brings together guitar, erhu (Chinese violin), dan bau, accordion, percussion, Celtic harp and more.
The group was born out of constant requests to present to children in school settings, which wasn’t always possible for the large-sized VICO.
“We were getting regular requests from educators and our members are all so busy that we needed something that could be put together with different configurations, but still have good material ready to go,” Denburg says.
“Choosing the Beatles — who really are familiar to pretty much everyone regardless of cultural origin — and adding in songs from the players’ varied musical traditions turns into something fun for everyone and really opens up a world of music for young audiences.”
An ambassador for inter-cultural musical exchange and creation, Denburg laughs about his own musical contribution of voice and guitar being overshadowed by some of his bandmates’ more exotic instruments.
“I’m standing there with an acoustic guitar and the kids are looking right through me when the tar (Persian lute) starts soloing,” Denburg says. “In a song such as Norwegian Wood — one of the first to use sitar — we have arranged it to include tar and dan bau with a really fun Celtic break thrown in. Besides being fun, it really enables us to demonstrate how familiar material can be handled inter-culturally.”
Denburg, who has led the band Tzimmes for years, as well as composing and playing in VICO, thinks that the best description for the Good Day Sunshine Band is as “an instrument petting zoo.”
The group plays multiple performances at the Vancouver International Children’s Festival alongside the usual lineup of international, national and local young people’s performers — ranging from the Potato Needs a Bath puppet show to Taqralik Partridge’s There’s A Whale In That Puddle storytelling session of Inuit poetry, tales and throat singing. The full program is available online.