Banshee Tree is a band that has a sound as eclectic as its own members, spanning the dimensions of music in a brave new way. The quartet’s style is unique in how it crosses the boundaries of rock, punk, swing, and Django jazz—named after Belgium-born French guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt, who remains one of the most relevant European jazz guitarists of all time.

But Banshee Tree’s sound, as described by its members, can’t be pigeon-holed within the confines of the aforementioned genres.

“Django jazz influenced for sure, but we can crank it up to a higher tempo and turn it into dance music, kind of like Golgol Bordello,” said Michelle Pietrafitta (drums/vocals).

Of course, a band doesn’t discover into its own sound overnight. Through switching lineups, experimentation, and openness to change, Banshee Tree has finally “come to a sound,” as Pietrafitta put it.

“It was initially a swing gig, traditional jazz, Latin, bluegrass, lower-volume acoustic, [guitarist/vocalist] Tom [LaFond] was always writing original music,” said Jason Bertone, the band’s bassist.

The avant-garde rockers have made a home for themselves in Boulder, CO after serving as the band in residence at local speakeasy License No. 1 for years. During this time, the band played mostly swing music—complete with folks dressed to the nines in slick suits, hats, and flapper garb from the height of prohibition.

“When we had a lineup change, we saw the opportunity to go further in that creative direction, to get away from doing the same kind of music and into the music that we are currently making,” said Bertone.

Pietrafitta joined the band in 2017, adding the element of a full-time percussion, a spot that was once held down by LaFond on a kick drum. They were able to branch out further into the world of improvisation, focusing on making more danceable music. As the crowds got bigger, the swing dancers had less room, and the dancing changed from well-rehearsed routines to rock show free-form.

“As a group, we came from swing and hot jazz. Over time we made it longer and longer, inform improvisation out of that, a growing movement within the movement,” said Nick Carter (violin).

A big part of the unique sound of the band has to do with Carter’s stylings on the violin. He plays more of a rhythm guitar section, rigged with pedals for delays and other effects not commonly used by violin players. As Pietrafitta put it, “Nick plays more of a lead instrument, not like a bluegrass fiddle or a concert violin.”

A lot of style seeps through from LaFond’s writing, and the band feels out the groove from there—from punk to jazz to swing to klezmer, but always with their own spin.

During the pandemic, the members of Banshee Tree had a lot of time to write and reconnect as a unit They began to focus more on songwriting to bolster their improvisation, and with all that time they were able to finally get into the studio and cut their first, self-titled album.

Banshee Tree is out today, Friday August 20th. (8/20). Stream it on the platform of your choice here or listen via Spotify below.

Banshee Tree – Banshee Tree – Full Album

In support of the new album, Banshee Tree will hit the road for an 11-date tour around the American West including two album-release party shows this weekend at The Fox Theatre in Boulder (8/20) and at Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins (8/21). For a full list up upcoming Banshee Tree tour dates, head here.


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