Blato Zlato was founded in 2015 in New Orleans as a result of a super-group collaboration between the instrumental Eastern European and Klezmer band G-String Orchestra and a cappella Balkan vocal trio Pyeya. First formed to play NYC’s Golden Festival in 2015, members realized the potential that could be had from full three-part harmony vocals over violin, accordion, bass and percussion, and so they continued and expanded membership. Their 2017 debut album, Swamp Gold, is the result of collaborative improvisations and arrangements from all six members, fueled by late-night rakia and wine and informed by a love for the various elements of Balkan music that drew them to it: the taksim, the drone, the close vocal harmonies, and the driving irregular meters.
Blato Zlato’s members each come to the band from vastly different backgrounds. Drummer Boyanna Trayanova is originally Bulgarian and immigrated to the United States as a child, growing up studying percussion with musical masters in New Orleans and then rediscovering her roots through the tupan and doumbek as an adult. Other members are American with roots to Europe, with vocalist Annalisa Kelly having grown up in the USSR, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and other European countries, and accordionist/vocalist Lou Carrig growing up a dual citizen of both the United States and Ireland, splitting time between both countries. All members have devoted years to studying Balkan musical tradition in the United States, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, and Greece, and are proud to share membership with other Balkan bands as part of a blossoming Balkan music scene in New Orleans.