Who The Heck Is: Black Masala?

May 29, 2013

In a multicultural city like D.C., you might have heard of masala, a South Asian spice mixture. Vocalist and drummer Mike Ounallah has put together a similarly potent mix with Black Masala, one of the most eclectic bands making music in the District today.

The Lineup: The band, which takes cues from Eastern European music and big brass bands, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and has snowballed from two members to nine. The impressive roster includes locals Frank Mitchell Jr. (saxophonist for Thievery Corporation), Matt Hotez (trombonist for Yellow Dubmarine) and Patrick Edwards (electric guitarist for Bellflur).

The Show: Black Masala’s live sets get the adrenaline pumping and the crowd dancing — aggressively. “People dance so hard they’ve fallen into our drum sets,” Ounallah says.

Stepping Out: The band has played small clubs and higher-profile gigs at venues such as the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. “You aren’t going to hear this kind of stuff anywhere else in D.C.,” Ounallah says. After a three-stop tour in North Carolina last week, the group’s bringing its distinctive mix back to the District.

The Velvet Lounge, 915 U St. NW; Mon., 9 p.m., $8-$10; 202-462-3213. (U Street)
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Shauna Miller | May 29, 2013