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Feature

Black is Back

Serbian Romany band KAL is the original Gypsy Punk band. This June they’ll be touring from London to Doncaster, celebrating Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month with their infectious blend of music and politics, writes Garth Cartwright.

This feature was written for fRoots magazine

KAL

KAL are a young Serbian Gypsy band. They are lead by Dragan Ristic who is a prominent spokesman for Serbia’s Romany Gypsy people. Dragan is a very articulate man and speaks (and sings) in several languages (Serbian, Romany, English and French). KAL is a Romany word for “black” and Dragan emphasises that his band not only continue the tradition of making music and entertaining people but also can act as a platform to highlight Gypsy issues.

Dragan RisticKAL mix folk music with rock and electronic beats so creating a new kind of Gypsy music. KAL have released two albums on the Berlin record label Asphalt Tango. These albums are called KAL and RADIO ROMANISTA. Both albums feature dynamic, exciting music. Critics have compared KAL with Led Zeppelin in the way they mix folk music with the dynamics and power of rock music. Dragan likes to say that KAL are the original “Gypsy punk band”.

KAL spend a lot of time touring - they have twice toured the USA and regularly tour all over Europe. They have been to the UK a couple of times, most memorably headlining Suffolk’s Gypsy Arts Festival in 2006.

KAL embarked on a 4-date UK tour in June. Because June is Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, KAL were chosen to headline the annual Celebrating Sanctuary Festival at Coin St on London’s South Bank on June 14th.

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Read a review and interview following KAL's appearance at the Celebrating Sanctuary Festival by Garth Cartwright.

KAL

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The Celebrating Sanctuary Festival

Celebrating Sanctuary is a free festival that highlights how London is made up of people from all over the world, many having arrived in this city seeking sanctuary from persecution. It is appropriate that KAL are the first Gypsy band to headline Celebrating Sanctuary as their songs often concern the persecution Romanies face from racists. Also, London has given sanctuary to Romany families for over five hundred years so this festival will be one every Gypsy in the UK should come to and dance with joy.

KAL are a very exciting, progressive band. Ccome to their concerts – you won’t regret it. Visit www.youtube.com and search for “KAL”.