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Event Details

Coming from New Orleans, Tank and the Bangas are surrounded by plenty of grand musicaltraditions. And the five-piece group has a rare knack for combining various musical styles—fierysoul, deft hip-hop, deep-groove R&B and subtle jazz—into one dazzling, cohesive whole that evokesthe 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 theband with vivid charisma that helped Tank and the Bangas win NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk ConcertContest by unanimous acclaim, standing out among 6,000 entrants because of what Bob Boilencalled “the depth of their lyricism and the versatility of their players.” Those same qualities alsoattracted 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 scenebefore meeting her bandmates: Merell Burkett on keyboards, Joshua Johnson on drums, NormanSpence 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 teamwon the National Poetry Slam Championship two years in a row, Ball turned her full attention to Tankand the Bangas.

What started as a loose collaboration at an open-mic night in 2011 has grown into a mesmerizingmusical force that’s only picking up speed. After a featured set at the New Orleans Jazz & HeritageFestival early in the band’s career, the musicians built a reputation outside their hometown by 119 west 57th street, penthouse north, new york, ny 10019 t 212.741.1000 www.sacksco.comSACKS ACO. NDgrinding it out on the road, honing their live show and releasing the 2013 album Think Tank, all thewhile converting audiences into passionate fans and garnering critical acclaim, from the NewOrleans Advocate to The New York Times. “It made us work hard,” Ball says of playing Jazz Fest. “Itmade us want to feel deserving of it.”

Their hard work is paying off: The Huffington Post says Tank and the Bangas defy descriptiononstage, adding, “It’s music that you have to experience.” The experience is subject to change fromone 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’tlike 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 musicwhere that came from as the group works on the follow-up to Think Tank. “It’s going to beawesome,” 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 asa performer and writer. Even back in the open-mic days, she was a force of nature. “I don’t know ifthere’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 runningaround so much I didn’t have time to sing at all,” she say—while finding new ways of expressingherself as a writer.

“I don’t just think about myself when I write now,” she says. “Just being with my bandmates taughtme to think more about other people. And when you have an audience of people ready to listen toyou, you’re excited to connect with them, you really are.”

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Event Location

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Saturn

200 41st Street South, Birmingham, AL, 35222

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Talent

Tank and The Bangas / Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles