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British group Zum to make DL debut

British quintet Zum will launch its first-ever U.S. tour this Friday, April 21, with a 7:30 p.m. concert at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre.

Zum first stormed the United Kingdom in 2001 with its unique sound, combining violin, accordion, cello, bass and piano. Its music combines the fire and brilliance of Eastern European gypsy fiddle music with the hot-blooded passion of Argentinian tango.

Zum performs music from the golden era of tango, alongside addictive, traditional gypsy melodies and compelling original material that combines these two influences, as well as a smattering of jazz, Celtic, salsa, bluegrass, Calypso and a variety of other musical styles.

Originally started as a project of the chamber orchestra London Concertante, Zum quickly evolved into its own entity, and five years and four CDs later, the group is still going strong.

"The five of us worked so well together, we decided to go off and do our own thing," said cellist Chris Grist in a telephone interview on Thursday. "On average, we'll do 60-70 concerts a year, the majority of them in the U.K. (United Kingdom)."

Though Zum has toured Europe before, this will be the group's first trip overseas. The April 21 concert in Detroit Lakes will, in fact, be their North American debut.

"We're very excited about coming over there," Grist said. "It's going to be interesting to see how Americans take to our music. We know how British and European audiences react, but we have no real concept of that (the U.S. audiences' reaction).

"After that, we'll be on the road for about a month," Grist continued. "We've got quite a grueling tour schedule, with 21 concerts in 24 days, so we've not got much time to enjoy the sightseeing in the places we're going."

So how did the group end up making its American debut in a small, northwestern Minnesota community?

"It was fortuitous happenstance really," Grist said. "We did a concert in the U.K. and an American couple happened to come to the concert and loved it. They said, 'Give us a card, we know somebody (who could promote the group in the U.S.), and a little while later, an agent from Allied Concert Services got in touch with us. We decided it would be a good thing (to tour the U.S.)."

Grist said the group's unique sound had actually begun as an experiment.

"I went to a concert by the Hungarian gypsy fiddle player, Lakatosh," he explained. "I had also been listening to a lot of (Astor) Piazzola, a master of Argentinian tango, and I just thought it would be a fantastic idea to fuse those two elements."

So Grist got in touch with two of his colleagues from London Concertante, Adam Summer-hayes, whom he knew as an avid fan of gypsy fiddling, and Dave Gordon, a jazz piano and harpsichord player, and they began experimenting with the new sound. Gordon then recommended that bass player Jonny Gee and accordion player Eddie Hession be added, and the group was complete.

"It worked out great," Grist said. "No show is ever alike, and the guys are constantly coming up with new material -- every gig is a real joy to do."

Grist also noted that, if audiences like what they hear, the group would be bringing along copies of its four commercially released CDs for purchase at the concert. More information about the group is also available at its Web site,

Tickets for the April 21 concert, underwritten by SJE Rhombus, are $16 for adults and $8 for students. To purchase, call 218-844-SHOW (7469) or visit the Holmes Theatre Box Office, 826 Summit Ave., during its regular hours, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday. (The box office will also be open for two hours prior to Friday's concert.)

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454