Early Work:The pre-2002 Charming Hostess (also known as Charming Hostess Big Band) was a rock band that embraced a genderfuck sensibility (the women often wore mustaches while the men wore dresses). Early Charming Hostess music drew on women's vocal traditions (primarily from Eastern Europe and North Africa), and integrated them with American folk forms both white and black.
Charming Hostess was founded in the fertile anarchy of Barrington Co-op (aka Barrington Hall), and nurtured by the West Oakland arts community, along with other coeval bands such as Fibulator and Eskimo.
Half of Charming Hostess was also in Idiot Flesh/Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The final effect was of a hoedown where bodacious babes belted the blues in Bulgarian while a Punk-Klezmer band rocked out in accompaniment.
The genre of this incarnation of ChoHo is described by the band as "Klezmer-Punk/Balkan-Funk". Recordings of Charming Hostess Big Band include "Eat" (Vaccination, 1998) and the more recent "Punch" (ReR, 2005) Charming Hostess Big Band was: Jewlia Eisenberg (voice, direction), Carla Kihlstedt (voice, fiddle), Nina Rolle (voice, accordion), Wes Anderson (drums), Nils Frykdahl (guitar, flute, saxophone, percussion), and Dan Rathbun (bass).
" Jewlia Eisenberg, Marika Hughes, Cynthia Taylor, Jason Ditzian, Shahzad Ismaily, Ches Smith.- plus, often Ganda Suthivarakom and/or Pameliya Kursten (all vocals). Honored guests on 2010 The Bowls Project album include:Marc Ribot, Jenny Scheinman, Megan Gould, Jessica Troy, Nils Frykdahl, Dawn McCarthy, Ganda Suthivarakom, Boris Martzinovsky, Aaron Kierbel, and Nir Waxman.
Current Work: The Bowls Project, an album and installation from Charming Hostess released Summer 2010.The Bowls Project Album:Based on inscriptions from ancient Babylonian Jewish amulets, The Bowls Project, Tzadik sings of mysticism and magic, angels and demons, and the trials and joys of love and sex.
Especially audible are the voices of Talmudic-era women: their work, hopes and dreams. Weaving together Babylonian devotional songs, apocalyptic American folk music and a radical take on ritual power, The Bowls Project marks the deepest and most creative work by Charming Hostess yet.
The Bowls Project Installation & Sound Sculpture:As a performance installation and interactive sound sculpture that takes place in a 40’ vaulted dome. Featuring new music composed and performed by Jewlia Eisenberg and Charming Hostess, The Bowls Project is based on texts from ancient Babylonian amulets.
The culmination of five years of research, The Bowls Project willrun June through August 2010 at Yerba Buena Center for theArts. An estimated 15,000 people will visit and interact withthe installation.
The Bowls Project Background:Bowl amulets were common 1500 years ago in the areathat is now Iraq. Simple bowls were inscribed with ahouseholder’s secrets and desires and then buried underthe doorway to protect the home.
The bowl texts areabout “secrets of the home”: love and intimacy, angels anddemons, and the trials and joys of daily life. Audible in thesetexts are the individual voices of women from this period-their work, hopes, and dreams.
These spiraled inscriptionsare among the few existing records of female voices duringthe time and place of the Babylonian Talmud.All Work:The music primarily springs from three women with an emphasis in the body–voices and vocal percussion, hand claps and heartbeats, sex-breath and silence.
The work grows from diaspora consciousness: both Jewish and African. Stylistically, Charming Hostess incorporates doo-wop, Pygmy counterpoint, Balkan harmony and Andalusian melody. Contemporary influences on the band include Meredith Monk and Reinette l'Oranaise.
The music often explores existing text and overlays the composer's (Jewlia Eisenberg) own questions of authenticity, montage, and the effect of music on non-verbal languages.The 2002 CD (Trilectic, Tzadik Records) explored the political/erotic nexus of Walter Benjamin and his Marxist muse, Asja Lacis.
The 2004 CD (Sarajevo Blues, Tzadik) sets Bosnian poetry by Semezdin Mehmedinović as a form of love and resistance to the brutalization of war.
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