In the spirit of the eastern European village band, La Panika interprets the gypsy and balkan music of Bulgaria and Macedonia, showing occasional side steps to Turkish and Greek music.

When Benito Blancquaert, Belgian saxophone player met Petar Elmazov, Bulgarian gipsy accordion player, it was a direct match. Flamboyant French trumpet player Jean-Pierre Lietar joined in and the soul of La Panika was born. In formations ranging between 8 and 12 musicians, La Panika gathers French, Bulgarian, Belgian and Macedonian musicians.

Debut album Afan Toufan (Tire-Laine, 2007) was well received by the press worldwide and La Panika toured Belgium, France, Holland, Morocco, UK and Hungary. The orchestra became highly rewarded by Eastern top musicians like Ivo Papasov, Serkan Cagri and Mladen Malakov, with whom they shared the stage.

Second album Darmadan (Zephyrus Records, 2018) gathers carefully selected gems from gypsy traditions arranged by La Panika and produced by Reinhard Vanbergen (Das Pop, The Van Jets, Va Fan Fahre). Accordionist Neshko Neshev (Ivo Papsov & His Wedding Band) produced the song ‘Leaving’ and performed on ‘Deryalar’. The album features surprising instruments such as the electric guitar and oud of Gaspar Vanardois, the quanun of Osama Abdul Rasol and the serpet or ophicleid which preceded the tuba.

As Turkish and Greek elements infiltrated La Panika’s live sets along the way, a new recording session proved itself necessary. As a result the 7-inch single Anapse To Tsigaro is to be expected in spring 2021. This Greek classic written by G. Clouvatos in 1958 was an instant hit at the peak of the Laika movement. Considering La Panika’s affection for Greek music and the aspiration to integrate vocals, the song served as the ultimate vehicle and illustrates the orchestra’s future direction. Accordionist Bastien Charlery, who regularly took the microphone during live concerts, acts as lead singer, giving birth to La Panika’s very first vocal track.

THE BAND

Benito Blancquaert : saxophone
Bastien Charlery: accordion, vocals
Jean-Pierre Lietar : trumpet
Thomas Morzewski : trumpet
Dorien Godfroid: baritone tuba
Gaspard Vanardois : guitar, oud
Dimitri Simoen : tapan
Cedric Gilmant: soubassophone
Christian Laisné : bariton tuba
Hendrik Dobbelaere : bariton tuba

CONCERT HIGHLIGHTS

Paradiso (NL) / Balkan Traffik (BE) / Sziget (HU) / Dranouter (BE) / Sfinks (BE) / Brosella (BE) / Cabaret Sauvage (FR) / Gentse Feesten (BE) / Odegand (BE) / Grand Mix (FR) / Airbag Festival (BE) / l’Aventure Accordeon (UK) / Sur la Route des Tsiganes (FR) / Les Rencontres de Fleuve (FR) / Festival les Turbulences (FR) / Festival Musiques Metisses (FR) / Wazemmes l’Accordeon (FR)