Vinyl Music Hall Presents:
Tank and the Bangas
Maggie Koerner, Alfred Banks
2 S. Palafox St.
Pensacola, FL, 35202
This event is all ages
Tank and the Bangas
Coming from New Orleans, Tank and the Bangas are surrounded by plenty of grand musical traditions. And the five-piece group has a rare knack for combining various musical styles—fiery soul, deft hip-hop, deep-groove R&B and subtle jazz—into one dazzling, cohesive whole that evokes the scope of New Orleans music while retaining a distinctive feel all its own.
“It’s music that can’t really be put in a box,” says singer and poet Tarriona “Tank” Ball. She fronts the band with vivid charisma that helped Tank and the Bangas win NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Concert Contest by unanimous acclaim, standing out among 6,000 entrants because of what Bob Boilen called “the depth of their lyricism and the versatility of their players.” Those same qualities also attracted the attention of Verve Records, which has signed the band.
Ball’s lyrical depth has been years in the making. She came up in the strong local slam poetry scene before meeting her bandmates: Merell Burkett on keyboards, Joshua Johnson on drums, Norman Spence on bass and synth keys and, eventually, Albert Allenback on alto sax and flute. “Growing up, I always could sing, but I wrote better than I sang, so I focused on writing,” she says. After her team won the National Poetry Slam Championship two years in a row, Ball turned her full attention to Tank and the Bangas.
What started as a loose collaboration at an open-mic night in 2011 has grown into a mesmerizing musical force that’s only picking up speed. After a featured set at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival early in the band’s career, the musicians built a reputation outside their hometown by grinding it out on the road, honing their live show and releasing the 2013 album Think Tank, all the while converting audiences into passionate fans and garnering critical acclaim, from the New Orleans Advocate to The New York Times. “It made us work hard,” Ball says of playing Jazz Fest. “It made us want to feel deserving of it.”
Their hard work is paying off: The Huffington Post says Tank and the Bangas defy description onstage, adding, “It’s music that you have to experience.” The experience is subject to change from one night to the next.
“One show will feel very electronic, or hip-hop, and another show will feel slow and vibe-y and jazzy, and then another show will just be poetry and off-the-cuff riffs,” says Johnson. “As a band, we don’t like to hear ourselves do the same thing for too long, so we might change a small thing here or there, and if we change enough small things, it seems like a big change.”
Tank and the Bangas won the Tiny Desk contest with “Quick,” a riotous single they released in 2017 (and soon accompanied with a cheeky, not entirely safe-for-work video). There’s more new music where that came from as the group works on the follow-up to Think Tank. “It’s going to be awesome,” Ball says. “It’s going to be fun, and a little vulnerable at the same time.”
The band’s ongoing evolution involves more than just music: Ball continues to grow and develop as a performer and writer. Even back in the open-mic days, she was a force of nature. “I don’t know if there’s such a thing as too free, but it was totally uninhibited. She was inspired,” Spence says, laughing at the memory. More recently, Ball has become less of a dervish onstage—“I was running around so much I didn’t have time to sing at all,” she say—while finding new ways of expressing herself as a writer.
“I don’t just think about myself when I write now,” she says. “Just being with my bandmates taught me to think more about other people. And when you have an audience of people ready to listen to you, you’re excited to connect with them, you really are.”
It’s not uncommon to find Maggie performing on stage with a list of iconic acts that has included Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule and Charles Bradley, to name a few. The Shreveport born singer-songwriter spent the majority of 2013 and 2014 as the lead singer and front-woman for legendary New Orleans’ funk-band Galactic.
Spending 2015 on the road and in the studio, Maggie performed with her own band at a list of major North American music festivals including New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Austin City Limits and Pemberton Music Festival to name a few.
Maggie recently finished her “Dig Down Deep (EP)”, produced by esteemed UK producer and singer-songwriter Fin Greenall (Fink, Amy Winehouse, John Legend) which is set for release on December 9, 2016 on Greenall’s R’COUP’D label.
Comprising four tracks, the EP was recorded in four different sessions over two years with a lengthy list of collaborating musicians, including executive production from the face of Fink and R’COUP’D head himself, Fin Greenall.
Her relationship with Greenall so too represents a sort of sonic kismet. After meeting a mutual contact in a treehouse in France, Koerner repeatedly emailed demos, caught his attention with EP track “Cayute Woman" and they went on to work together in Berlin, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
On Koerner, Greenall says:
“Maggie’s voice is stunning, her material is honest to the bone, and she is a rare, true, artist. Capable of incredible highs and incredible lows, Maggie and her art are inseparable—and all true artists can relate to that.”
Koerner’s process is markedly patient and relaxed, and reflects her belief that “you don’t need a controlled environment to make music”—but that’s not to say it’s aimless. Title track "Dig Down Deep", released today, reflects Koerner’s ethical and musical upbringing which she says taught her to “make music matter.” On the track, she expands:
“I want music to make people feel again, to ask questions again about what the hell is happening around us."
Encouraging the listener to dig down deep, in its myriad interpretations, carries especially significant meaning in the current climate of domestic and global affairs, which in turn contribute to her unique perspective as a songwriter.
Other tracks are more whimsical but no less affecting. 'French Fur Traders', another standout, describes a relationship with a former lover who is still kindred. The lyrics poured out of Koerner on the fly one night, recalling her ex’s belief that they had known one another in a former life, lived as French fur traders themselves.
Koerner is already recognizable on the US tour circuit for her incredible live performances with esteemed, festival-favorite acts. Now stepping out in a more intimate direction—and with Fink producing—her new material is where her voice is given room to slowly smolder, leaving behind a chilled but haunting trace.
General Admission * Standing Room Only * All Ages * Additional $5 Cash Surcharge At The Door For Under 21 * Attendees Under 16 Must Be Accompanied By A Ticketed, Adult Guardian * Posted Times Are Door Times- Events Generally Begin 30-60 Minutes After Doors Open * No Re-Entry