Black Masala serves as encore to 'Friday Night Bands at University Plaza'
Black Masala, a brassy band based in Washington, D.C., will be the headliner for Imagine Hagerstown’s Friday Night Bands at University Plaza on Friday, June 28.
This is the final weekend for the new month-long festival that has been featuring arts and music on Fridays and Saturdays in downtown Hagerstown over the past three weekends.
Kitty Clark, community events coordinator with the city of Hagerstown, said Black Masala was chosen from a pool of 125 entries.
“They are a very professional band. They are fun to listen to and entertaining and fun to dance to. They were different than any other bands we booked,” Clark said.
Black Masala founder Michael Ounallah said the band has performed in Frederick, Md., many times but this will be their first public appearance in Hagerstown.
“It’s a new area for us. It’s always great to play outside and it is a new spot for us,” he said.
Ounallah said the band’s unique sound is an amalgamation of styles that include funk music, New Orleans music, Balkan and Indian Bhangra music, just to name a few.
“They call this the new generation of a ‘go-anywhere brass band,’” Ounallah said.
Clark said it was the band’s unique sound that appealed to organizers.
“It was important to us to have a diverse group of artists represented,” Clark said.
The seven-piece band evolved from a duo project in drummer and vocalist Ounallah’s basement six years ago.
“I got together with a trombonist friend of mine because we were both obsessed with gypsy brass music from Romania and Serbia,” he said.
From there, the band evolved to where it is today with its current roster which includes, in addition to Ounallah: Kristen Long (vocal/percussion), Brendan Schnabel (tenor and soprano sax), Kirsten Warfield (trombone), Jacob Dalager (trumpet), Michael DiCiurci (sousaphone), Chris Lee (guitar) and Scott Clement (bass).
Ounallah said he also writes much of the band’s original music. The band has released three albums available on all digital platforms. He said they will play songs from all three albums including the newly released “Trains and Midnight Destinies.”
He said they also play a mix of covers from Amy Winehouse, The Band and Grateful Dead.
“We like to mix it up. But when we do it, we do our own arrangements of it. But it still sounds like the songs but it’s a little bit different,” Ounallah said.
He said audiences really like the high-energy show because it is entertaining but also is danceable.
“They like being able to dance to it. Plus the variety of instruments we have, you don’t see often, like we have a female trombone player. People think that is cool and not something you see everyday,” he said. “We jump out into the crowd. It’s sort of playing off of what happens on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.”
Hagerstown’s Spence 4hire will be the opening act for the concert that begins at 6:30 p.m.
“We also wanted to have local people represented and he came highly recommended and he has quite a following here,” Clark said.
Friday night concerts at University Plaza are free and open to the public.
“We are trying to appeal to a lot of different people and we didn’t want money to be a barrier,” Clark said.
People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to the plaza located at 50 W. Washington St. Clark said vendors will be available with food and wine for sale.
Clark said Imagine Hagerstown events are held rain or shine. But she encourages those interested in attending to check the festival’s Facebook page and website: www.imaginehagerstown.org, for updates.
If you go ...WHAT: Black Masala at Friday Night Bands at University PlazaWHERE: University Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., Hagerstown WHEN: Friday, June 28, 6 to 9 p.m. COST: FreeCONTACT: For more information, call 301-766-4188.