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Brian Calhoon’s Marimba Cabaret.

Review by Rebecca M. Alvin

The marimba is an instrument with a diverse history. The national instrument of Guatemala, it actually originated in sub-Saharan Africa, making its way around the world through colonialism and the slave trade. Then, mixing with local musical traditions of the Maya in Central America, Ecuadorean and Colombian music, as well as that of Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Europe, marimba found its way into modern music, including American jazz. Simultaneously unique and easily adapted into different musical varieties, the instrument is still rare enough to surprise audiences when it shows up in an orchestra or pop music context.

In Provincetown, local musician Brian Calhoon has been bringing that adaptable yet unique instrument to audiences in town for several years now at various venues, including the Brasswood Inn, which he owns with husband Tom. And on his latest album, Marimba Cabaret, released earlier this month, he serves up his signature blend of American music and percussive marimba in seven songs ranging from various shows, such as Into the Woods, La Cage Aux Folles, and Waitress to pop songs like Taylor Swift’s “I Did Something Bad” (accompanied by Julian Loida on drums), and even a Joni Mitchell tune, “River,” all sung in Calhoon’s lovely, soothing voice.

The marimba’s sound is evocative of steel drums and xylophone, two instruments that also originated in Africa and have found themselves in various other cultural contexts over the years. Because of this, there is a strong Caribbean connotation, which is perfect for summertime as we tend to connect that region of islands with sun and surf. But Calhoon’s repertoire selections carry us back to New York with their Broadway melodies. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a summer on Cape Cod.

Brian Calhoon’s Marimba Cabaret is available online on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes. Calhoon performs regular porch concerts at the Brasswood Inn, Commercial St., Provincetown beginning June 20. Visit for full schedule. He is also performing with Greg Jukes at Parker River Beach in Yarmouth on Monday, July 3, 6 p.m. and with Julian Loida at Brooks Park in Harwich on Monday, July 31, 6 p.m. For more information, visit

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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