Classical-rock hybridists Ginger Ibex to stream live concert from Boston’s WMFO 91.5 FM

By Keith Johnson
San Francisco Informer

“Keith Jarrett, Astor Piazzolla and Sergei Rachmaninov walk into a bar.” It sounds like the start of a nerdy music school joke but an ensuing jam session between the jazz, tango and classical music icons might give you an idea of Ginger Ibex’s sound. However, when you consider that the group’s collective influences also include punk, metal, pop, Celtic, Indian, and Middle Eastern music, and that they’ve covered Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” all bets are off at nailing them down.

The Boston-based ensemble consists of pianist and principle composer Sharon Crumrine, Betty Widerski on 6-string mezzo viola, Melika “Mel” Fitzhugh on violin, guitar and drums, and Caith Threefires on electric bass, mandolin and guitar.

“While there are other bands with keyboards and strings, Sharon, Mel, and I are all classically-trained composers who can also rock out,” Widerski added. “Our pieces are usually more than just verse-chorus, structurally, resulting in more interesting textures and musical paths than what you frequently hear in rock clubs.”

Ginger Ibex The group will perform live in the studio on Tufts University radio station WMFO 91.5 FM on March 12 from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. EDT during “On The Town With Mikey Dee.”  Listeners outside the Boston area can stream the concert on www.wmfo.org.

“‘On The Town With Mikey Dee’ is a legendary, long-standing local music show that we are honored to play,” Widerski said.

“‘On the Town’ is a program started by Mikey Dee, the late DJ and champion of the Boston music scene,” said WMFO DJ Pammeke van der Feest. “We carry on his legacy by highlighting the best that the Boston music scene has to offer, from rockabilly to metal, from folk to jazz, from rock to electro, from indie to pop. Ginger Ibex are a perfect fit partly because they straddle a few genres and demonstrate the creativity and depth of musical knowledge in Boston’s bands. We’re excited to have them, and I’m delighted to be hosting the night they’re on.”

Ginger Ibex formed in 2009 as a result of collaborations between Crumrine and Widerski.

“I met Betty when she and I were in another band,” Crumrine recalled. “I had been writing songs for a while, and because I wanted to add string arrangements, I asked Betty to record with me and do a few shows. Eventually I decided to make a CD and from there we knew we were becoming a fully-formed entity.”

“As we started playing out and working on recording our album ‘Firefly’ we parted with the earlier band to focus on Ginger Ibex,” Widerski said.

And as for the name “Ginger Ibex”?

“I decided on that name based on lists of words we might want and not want,” Crumrine explained. “I wanted it to be easy to say, not too long and not associated with any other band or business. Plus I’m a huge ginger fan, so there it is!”

Many of Crumrine’s compositions convey a dark, ethereal emotion but the artist does not consider herself to be moody.

“Moody — not at all. Dark — well, the first half of my life was about battling addiction and depression, and the second half, dealing with the fallout and cleanup of all that. As the years go by, I have less of the dark and more of the light, but it seems the dark is in my DNA, and I can easily get pulled in, but I am better at getting out. Perhaps unlike many people, I don’t view dark music as necessarily depressing, sad, or unhealthy. I usually find the sounds most striking, beautiful and inspiring. But I love lighter, happier music as well.”

“I don’t know of any other local keyboardists who use the entire length of the keyboard, and to such interesting effect, as Sharon does,” Widerski noted. “Unlike others who seem to regard their keyboard as something to supplement their voice or other instruments, the piano for Sharon is a primary voice.”

The multi-instrumental capabilities of the members lend themselves to Ginger Ibex’s stylistic eclecticism.

“Our ideal has always been to have at least two violins, viola and cello, plus drums and piano,” Widerski said. “We’ve had full string sections for recording, and some combination of strings for live shows, occasionally with upright bass. Once Mel joined us we have been able to include more guitar elements. I’ve sometimes played cajon and melodica.”

SharonCrumrine“We started out as piano, strings and drums,” Crumrine said. “I’m very excited about the possibilities of adding more textures to our sound, especially the interplay between Mel on guitar and Caith on bass. Sound inspires me. Anything can catch my ear, from ancient Greek melodies transcribed from a stele to the most fluffy pop song and everything in between.”

“I love challenges,” Threefires enthused. “With Ginger Ibex I have to think like a traditional jazz bass player, a string bassist in an orchestra, an R & B player or even a metal head, depending on the composition.”

For Fitzhugh, the quirky sense of humor is key to the band’s appeal.

“Ending a Britney Spears cover with a quote from a Beethoven concerto is priceless!”

To learn more about Ginger Ibex, visit www.gingeribex.com.

To hear and purchase Ginger Ibex music, visit www.gingeribex.bandcamp.com

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