As Farmington High School graduate André Balazs sings it’s easy to picture a raspy voiced Frenchman who keeps watch over a musty collection of tattered texts, yellowed classics and textured covers on humanity’s story.
Welcome to the ‘Museum of Sorts,’ the lastest CD from Bipolar Jukebox, the band that showcases the musical talents of pianist, singer and lyricist Balazs and his ever-growing collective of musical friends, especially drummer/vocalist Marc Balling and bassist and engineer David Shuman.
The character in the CD’s title track may own a used bookstore and sound more French than Hungarian but he’s not totally unlike Balazs or the band’s effort.
“Maybe the record itself is kind of a musical museum of sorts,” said Balazs, a 1990 graduate of Farmington High School, who now lives in Collinsville.
Like his title song character Jacque, Balazs is a musical collector, soaking in everything he’s heard and studied, from the Hungarian roots of his musical father Dr. Denes Balazs, the American folk songs favored by his mother Jaine, avant-garde singer songwriters, jazz icons, literary poets and eventually rock ‘n roll.
Of course there’s also the characters encountered during teenage-years' trips to book stores on Cape Cod.
“I’ve always been fascinated with used bookstores,” Balazs said.
It’s perhaps why Balazs cares so much for the lyrics he writes and tells so many stories in his music.
“(Lyrics) matter a lot to me,” he said.
Those wide range of musical influences are evident in the music Balazs writes and the disc features all original music.
Started approximately eight years ago, Bipolar Jukebox is a revolving cast of musicians. In addition to Balling and Shuman, several are featured on this latest disc. Drummer Charlie Dye and guitarist/vocalist Dennis Fancher are frequent live musical guests these days as well.
Balling, Shuman and Balazs spent some seven months together in the Collins Company Complex at 90 Canal St., creating a studio and recording the music.
“They definitely had a lot to do for the record,” he said. “I do all the writing but there’s a lot more than that.”
As much as the music ranges from the grand, carnival-esque atmosphere to a quiet reflective piano numbers, Balazs feels the disc fits well together and loves to think of albums as a cohesive whole.
The album is available as a download or disc at CD baby and at live shows, including one at the Crown and Hammer tonight, March 8. He'll play the Collinsville venue again March 23.
Balazs plays a solo gig every Thursday at LaTrattoria from 6 to 9 p.m. as well as many Friday and Saturday nights at Apricots in Farmington.
Balazs will play a special show with jazz guitarist Steve Jones on March 21. Jones will also join the band on March 23 after he plays a fundraiser at Bridge Street live.
Find out more about the band and Balazs' other musical efforts at http://www.andrebalazsmusic.com/