"Pachanga Society mixes it up with cajun, cumbia"

Article by Molly Willms in St. Cloud State's University Chronicle published November 15, 2010

Cumbia and cajun music were just a few of the varied musical styles played by the Stearns County Pachanga Society at their latest show.

For the second time, the Pacanga Society hosted Dan "Daddy Squeeze" Newton, a Twin Cities-based accordion player.

"A lot of the tunes that we play, the real versions have accordion," said Mike Hasbrouck, guitarist for the Society. "So when we play them and we don't have an accordion, we'll maybe do our keyboard player with accordion sounds. So it's really fun to get a real accordion player, who's so awesome like he is."

The band played music from Central and South America as well as a few songs from Louisiana, as cajun and zydeco music also heavily feature accordions. Other instruments were the Bolivian "charango," a small stringed instrument, and the Colombian "guiro" or "guacharaca."

Some of these themes were a break from what Newton usually plays with his band, the Cafe' Accordion Orchestra.

"We do French cafe' music," Newton said, "a little bit of Latin stuff, some old American swing tunes. We're kind of starting to stretch out and do a little Greek and Armenian stuff."

The band played traditional songs like "Guantanamera" and "Guepe Je" as well as Santana's version of Oye Como Va."

The band itself only had one rehearsal with all the players present. For the Pachanga Society's style of music, this is often the right way to rehearse.

"That's actually been our experience," said Jim Bjorklun, the band's bassist. "We've been positively reinforced by being slightly under-practiced and spontaneous. Oftentimes, that works out well for us."

The dance floor was full as usual, including this time a young child who was on the floor at every song and receive applause from the audience at Mark "Hazzy" Hasbrouck's request.

"The energy was really great," Newton said. "That plus having all the dancers a foot away in front of the stage. It's fun when the dancers are close t the stage, it gives a lot of energy to the musicians."

The band's namesake, the concept of "pachanga," is loosely defined on their website as "get down, get loose, party, whoop it up and have a good time together."

"As long as everyone's dancing, having a fun time, we have a good time," Mike Hasbrouck said. "You don't have to know how to dance those styles to dance and have a good time when we play."

The Pachanga Society plans to record its third album sometime next year. The album will differ from the first two releases in that most of the music will be original.

"If it's 10 tunes, it'll probably be about seven originals and maybe three famous tunes from around the world," Mike Hasbrouck said. "We might record it with a slightly different line-up, including that accordion player."

According to their website, the band's core lineup includes Stacy Bauer, vocals; Mike Hasbrouck, guitar; Mark "Hazzy" Hasbrouck, guitar; Brian Heying, Andy Furcht and Martin Wolfe, percussion; Lalo Quillo, panflute and flute; Jim Bjorklun, bass; and Jim Feia, keyboards.

Most of the band's members also double as percussionists and vocalists on many of the songs, and they also play different instruments depending on the show's theme.

The band's next scheduled concert will be their annual tribute to Bob Marley on his birthday, which will once again feature Julien "JuJu" MacFarlane.