Beyond the Pale but below the Mason-Dixon Line

From Staff Reports
Black Mountain News USA TODAY NETWORK

For 20 years Toronto’s Beyond the Pale has been making a distinctive brand of boundary-busting Eurofolk fusion. Inspired by Klezmer and Balkan styles but influenced by everything from jazz and classical music to bluegrass, newgrass and reggae, Beyond the Pale’s music traverses a vast and exotic musical landscape, bound by no particular idiom but shaped by many.

The band's stellar musicianship, meticulous dynamics, adventurous compositions, and inventive arrangements of traditional material make it one of Canada’s most innovative acoustic ensembles. In celebration of its two decades as a group, Beyond the Pale is undertaking its first-ever tour of the southeastern United States, including a stop at White Horse Black Mountain on Saturday, March 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 advance/$12 door. 

Beyond the Pale finds parallels between klezmer music and the music of the Southeast.

Like the U.S, the culture of Canada has been shaped and enriched by immigrants from around the world. The core of Beyond the Pale’s sound is klezmer, a style of exuberant Jewish village music from Eastern Europe. Although that musical landscape may seem far removed from Ontario or North Carolina, mandolinist Eric Stein said that “the music of the southeastern U.S. is not so different from the music of southeastern Europe. Black Mountain is not as far as you might think from the Black Sea.” 

Beyond the Pale finds parallels between klezmer music and the music of the Southeast.

Although this is the band’s first foray below the Mason-Dixon line, Stein feels an affinity with Southern music. “There are similarities to be found in our foregrounding of virtuoso musicianship and improvisation, and in common instrumentation, with fiddle, mandolin and bass central to the sound.” Also integral to the sound is emotional klezmer clarinet, a style that inspired jazz clarinet greats Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman.

Although most often tagged as a klezmer band, Beyond the Pale is much more diverse in its musical offerings. It is rooted in tradition, but  excursions into other territory keep the music adventurous and exciting. “We borrow freely from other musical styles,” Stein said, “and we always try to keep things fresh with frequent shifts in dynamics, rhythms and instrumental textures."

Beyond the Pale features Aleksandar Gajic (violin), Bret Higgins (bass), Milos Popovic (accordion), Eric Stein (mandolin, mandocello), and Martin van de Ven (clarinets).