Now approaching its 20th year, Immigrant Suns are pioneers of what became a new wave of American interest in the music of The Balkans, The Middle East, so-called ?Gypsy? (Romani) music of Eastern Europe and ethnic folkloric music in general. Over the course of eight years, the group released five recordings that evolved from early impressionistic melding of archaic folk music and art rock, into music that featured the sophisticated handling of many traditions, some experimental hybrids and even a big-band version of the group.
Formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1992, the group enjoyed critical success and a cult fan-base around the country, which it toured incessantly in the 90's. A classic DIY project, Immigrant Suns never used a manager, publicist etc., but were featured on independent and college radio, on television, and in critic's picks from papers like The Chicago Reader, The Chicago Sun-Times, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, City Paper (Baltimore and Philly), Metro Times (Detroit), Orbit (Detroit), Metro Pulse (Knoxville), Creative Loafing (Atlanta, Charlotte) etc. The group was also reviewed in these things they used to call music magazines- including Option, Alternative Press and Dirty Linen; they received a 4 1/2 star review in the book, ?The Rough Guide to World Music.?
Notable gigs have included the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Detroit's 300th Anniversary Celebration and seminal venues like New York's Knitting Factory and Tonic; Chicago's Lounge Ax, Hothouse, Empty Bottle; S.F.'s Bottom of the Hill etc. Numerous collaborations include work with dance groups, multi-media events and film. Musically, Immigrant Suns has worked with Eugene Chadbourne, The Shaking Ray Levis, Frank Pahl, The Gold Sparkle Band, Gaida Hinnawi, Only a Mother, The Eyesores and many others.
Acknowledgment of the band came in several forms from its peers.The Bay Area-based group Charming Hostess (featuring Carla Kihlstedt of Tin Hat Trio) recorded an a cappella version of Immigrant Suns' song ?Kafe Turke,? The Gold Sparkle Band dedicated their piece ?Motor City Fugue? to the group and Frank Pahl has composed several pieces that have been recorded and performed on both Immigrant Suns and
Pahl albums. The band also contributed the track ?Surfing Albania? to the World Music chart-topping compilation ?Music Without Borders?- the track featured prominently in reviews of the CD in international press.
Although largely inactive since 2002- barring a few festival and benefit appearances- Immigrant Suns revived into creative mode over the past year, with some gigs in 2010/2011, and a batch of new recordings in the works.
Djeto Juncaj - qyteli, cello, guitar, accordion, tenor banjo & vocals /
Joel Peterson - bass, cello, clarinet & vocals /
Doug Shimmin - vocals, bouzouki, mandolin, guitar, baritone ukelele & strumstick /
Ben Temkow - violin, accordion, pennywhistle, mbira, piano & vocals /
Mark Sawasky - doumbek, tar, talking drum, riqq, bongos, conga, ghatam, trapkit & vocals