Bengas plays for Iraq


Bengas is one of the most popular Roma music groups in the Czech Republic, and while its members have been playing together since September 2001, they have just produced their first album. Called "Dza," it will be released on Wednesday at the Prague club Roxy. Bengas will play a benefit concert there, and the proceeds of it will go to the People in Need foundation's humanitarian work in Iraq.

The international dimension of Bengas' concert is also a reflection of the nature of their album. While most of the songs on it album are the group's own, there are also folk songs that have been taken from Roma communities all over Europe. Milan "Migel" Horvat is a guitarist and singer in Bengas:

"There are fourteen songs on the album. Nine are our own, while five are folk songs. One is Hungarian, one is Yugoslav, and then there is a czardas from eastern Slovakia. And one song is Swedish, it is from Roma who travel around the world and profess God's word. So we took one song from them, a folk song."

All of these influences are reflected in the simple, three-letter title of Bengas' album, "Dza." Milan "Migel" Horvat explains:

"The CD is called "Dza," which means "go!". We have an association, Amare dromeha, which means "our own way," so we thought "Dza "would be a good title for a CD. We also advertise our music as dza music on our posters, as it is difficult to describe which style it is. Our bass guitarist Martin, plays funk, Lada and I play Spanish rhythms, Milan plays Russian-style. Franta used to play the drums in a rock band and now he's playing lead guitar. When we put all this together, everybody can find something they like in it. A bit of jazz, a bit of rock, a bit of funky music. That's why we call it "dza." It's not jazz, it's not rock, it's everything together. It's dza music."