Photo: Pamela Garcia-Aguirre
SF quartet Sufis self-describes as "gypsy blues" and "garage jazz," and either characterization is incredibly apt. Comprised of Jon Shaheri (aka Jonny Cat) on guitar, Lauren Bjelde on vocals, Tyden Binsted on bass, and Felix Macnee on drums, the band delves into sounds not often found around these parts, laying down throwback, jazz-infused, swinging tracks that call to mind the roaring '20s and big band music, while maintaining a hint of garage rock edge. Crediting influences ranging from ancient Persian poets Rumi and Hafez, to jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Billie Holiday, and Cab Calloway, and even the great Tom Waits, Sufis brought a bit of them all to the stage for an October performance at BAMM.tv's studios, and the band recently released a video of their live take on the song "Don't Lead Me On" from that show.
I first caught wind of Sufis back in November when half of the band (Shaheri and Bjelde) opened for another of Shaheri's projects, Coo Coo Birds, and Oakland's Brand New Trash at Bottom of the Hill. Stripped down to the basics of Cat's mixture of jazz, blues, and rock guitar and Bjelde's distinctly smoky and sultry voice, the last minute addition to the bill (after The Blank Tapes canceled) stopped the disappointingly sparse crowd in their tracks.
From watching the BAMM.tv performances, it's clear that Sufis' sound takes on a decidely grander and more energetic tone when bassist Binsted and drummer Macnee join the fray. Below, check out the new video for "Don't Lead Me On", as well as the previously released video performance of "Ancient Lover", and then stream and purchase their self-titled EP on Bandcamp.
Sufis has five Bay Area gigs coming up during January and February, with multiple shows at Local Edition, as well as one-off performances at the Boom Boom Room, Elbo Room, and Cafe Du Nord. Get full details on all five shows below.
January 19, 2013
Boom Boom Room
January 22, 2013
February 2, 2013
Hungry Skinny, The Greening, Posole, Sufis
February 6, 2013
Midtown Social, Sufis
Cafe Du Nord
February 22, 2013