The Cambrian

Ten questions for Café Musique

Duane Inglish, left, accordion, and Brynn Albanese, violin and vocals, of Café Musique.
Duane Inglish, left, accordion, and Brynn Albanese, violin and vocals, of Café Musique. CAMBRIAN PHOTO BY DAVID MIDDLECAMP

It’s no surprise that many of Café Musique’s songs sound like movie music. After all, violinist Brynn Albanese of Cambria lent her talents to soundtracks for “Schindler’s List,” “Jurassic Park” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

While Albanese brings a classical touch to the band, the group also gives nods to tango, folk, swing and gypsy — as proven by its latest CD, “Catching Your Breath.” The band, which also includes Duane Inglish, Craig Nuttycombe, Piper Heisig and Fred Murray, will perform at the Cambria Allied Arts Music Series on July 10.

We recently spoke to Albanese and accordion player Inglish about soundtracks, banjos and Weird Al Yankovic.

Q: When you watch a movie, how closely are you listening to the music?

Brynn Albanese: Very closely. In fact, I saw a movie called “Real Women Have Curves,” and the soundtrack was phenomenal. I ordered it right away.

Duane Inglish: The movie “Chocolat” with Johnny Depp, I think, is one of many influences that got me in this direction. I’ve listened to that soundtrack over and over and over again.

Q: Duane, you also play banjo, but you don’t use the banjo on the CD?

DI: I don’t. I was host of a bluegrass show on KCBX for 16 years, and I played banjo in a number of bluegrass bands. And I love bluegrass. But I learned the squeeze box as a little boy. I was a 7-year-old kid who had it dropped on his lap. And I took lessons for five years, and I knew how to play it. So I went back to it about 10 years ago because I wanted to be more creative with my music — and I’ve never had more fun.

Q: The song “Squeeze Box” by The Who — does it have a double meaning or is it just a song about a guy who plays accordion?

DI: When I first heard that, I was 14 or 15. I was pretty naïve back then. And I heard it again about a month ago, and I was like, “Oh my God!”

Q: Brynn, do you ever listen to the “Schindler’s List” soundtrack if you need to cry?

BA: I played the whole suite with an orchestra last year. I don’t listen to the Boston Pops

even though I’m on that recording— not playing a solo, Itzhak

Perlman is playing the solo — but I’ve become fairly obsessed with all of John Williams’ pieces that he wrote for Itzhak Perlman.

Q: How does it work when you do music for the movies?

BA: (The conductor) would have the score there, and then in front of him he would be watching the movie. There’s a big screen above him so that if he had to give cues to the orchestra, he could still see what was going on. Steven Spielberg and all those guys from “Saving Private Ryan” were there. Tom Hanks was there. Everybody was there during the recording of the music.

Q: Why do they have to be there?

BA: They don’t. But it makes it more real for them to hear the music. Oftentimes they record the music before they do certain scenes because it will influence how they portray their characters.

Q: Do classical violin players look down on fiddle players?

BA: Not if I have anything to do with it.

Q: If Duane ever brings his banjo, can you play the fiddle?

BA: Oh, yeah — sure.

DI: I’ve seen her play with bluegrass bands at Live Oak. The mandolin player from that band last year said, “You’re one of the best fiddle players I’ve ever played with.”

BA: He called me from Memphis and he said, “Have you thought about doing this full time?” And I said, “Bluegrass is like my weakest genre!” So that really meant a lot to me when he said that.

Q: I think it’s weird that you can call it a violin or a fiddle.

BA: You wanna know the difference? About $20,000. Or a few beer stains.

DI: I know this as an observer: There’s a real envy on the classical scene about the folk and fiddle players’ ability to improvise.

BA: Folk artists are very jealous of the fact that classical people make twice as much money. It’s sad but true.

Q: Duane, is it true that you gave Weird Al his first gig?

DI: I might be wrong about all this being his very first public gig, and 30 years can do something to one’s memory, but here’s what I honestly recall: I was in charge of booking entertainment at the World Famous Dark Room (in San Luis Obispo) at the time, and I would oversee the signups for the club’s very popular Amateur Night, where anyone could sign up for their 15 minutes of fame. We had everything from singer-songwriter wannabes to comedians to poetry readings to Elvis impersonators.

So the first time I ever saw Weird Al was when he and a buddy of mine, Jon Iverson, signed up to perform as a duo. As usual, the room was very crowded what with all the folks coming down for their friends who had signed up that evening. When Weird Al took the stage the crowd certainly did a double take with his wacky hair and Jon’s sparkly sequined jacket. Throw in an accordion and guitar and they certainly had every-one’s rapt attention.

My first impression? I thought this was going to be a one-night joke and wasn’t going anywhere beyond the moment. I mean, come on, they were just a couple of Cal Poly kids having fun, right? But when he performed “My Bologna” — his parody of “My Sharona” — the crowd went berserk and we all nearly died laughing! And you know what? He wasn’t half bad on the squeeze box, either.

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