Burnside Album Details

May Day Orchestra, The, Ota Benga

The May Day Orchestra is a collective group from Saint Louis. Songwriter Tim Rakel of The Union Electric and members of the band Tenement Ruth collaborated on the recording Ota Benga. Borrowing as much from the likes of The Pogues and Tom Waits as it does the more mid-western influences of Son Volt and Wilco, The May Day Orchestra's defies an exact genre classification. Based on the group's live performance of the record as one musical piece, the individual songs work together to form a larger story. The tracks feature layers of guitars, bass and drums as well as a lead pedal steel. Occasional horns and a string section add to the musical background for the tale of Ota Benga, a pygmy man who was taken from the Belgian Congo and brought to the 1904 World's Fair in Saint Louis. The songs tell some history of the Congo and follow the strange journey of Ota Benga's life in the United States.