8 Things You Should Know About Tank and The Bangas

8 Things You Should Know About Tank and The Bangas

5 Things You Should Know About Tank and The Bangas

Photo of Tank and the Banga taken by Niki Walker/NPR.

Yours truly spent the entire weekend playing Tank and the Bangas as loud as possible while churning out these stories. Why, you ask? Well, the six-member group from New Orleans has bubbled into national consciousness after appearing on NPR‘s wildly popular Tiny Desk Concert series. Led by Tarriona “Tank” Ball and her fiery, commanding vocals — Tank and the Bangas have impressed the world with their improvisation + look to conquer more than just your mobile screens.

Unpredictable, theatrical and full of funk, soul, hip-hop, jazz and spoken word freshness — Tank and the Bangs might not be able to describe the sounds they emit — but it is beautiful nonetheless. The musicians associated with this collective of cool — Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph (vocals), Albert Allenback (flautist), Josh Johnson (drummer), Norman Spence (keyboardist, bass) and Merell Burkett (keyboardist)  — excel in creating gumbo-flavored beats and even impress each other during their lively fusion session.

Refusing to conform to the norm in music, Tank and the Bangas have added some tabasco sauce to the jazz stereotypes that litter the French Quarter, and instantly have become Okayplayer‘s favorite new group. With Tarriona and Anjelika as the double whammy of power + soul, Tank and the Bangas are ready to share their music with those outside the 504.

If you haven’t heard “Quick” or their album, The Big Bang Theory: Live at Gasa Gasa — don’t worry, here are eight things you can learn about Tank and the Bangas while you get your listen on.


Norah Jones is a huge fan of the group.

During a sonic retelling of the popular Disney tale, Alice In Wonderland, singer-songwriter Norah Jones joined Tank and the Bangas in New Orleans for a surprise performance.

Tank and the Bangas are well-loved in Crescent City.

The recipient of Offbeat Magazine‘s Emerging Artist Award in 2014, Tank and the Bangas are extremely well-known in New Orleans, and are appreciated whenever they hit the road to share their music with audiophiles.

They beat out 6,000 other competitors to win NPR’s Tiny Desk contest.

With thousands upon thousands of names, bands and personalities to sift through, NPR‘s Bob Boilen saw the light in Tank and the Bangas and asked them to perform in their critically acclaimed series. “What won me over about the band’s performance of ‘Quick’ were the interactions among lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball and her bandmates, and the way they seemed to surprise one another. It all felt so organic and on-the-spot just like the best Tiny Desk concerts.”

Tarriona Ball was already an award-winning performer before starting the band.

Better known to fans and friends in the music business as “Tank,” this New Orleans original was already an award-winning spoken word poet in 2011 when she created the first iteration of her band. “Coming from poetry, you learn to get on the stage and feel completely naked and let people judge you for your words,” Tank said in a 2014 interview about her soulful lyric-delivery style.

The band was formed at the Pure Beauty Hair Salon on St. Claude Avenue on Valentine’s Day.

Tank’s first performance was a bit rocky, as they all recalled in a 2016 interview, which was staged in the Pure Beauty Hair Salon. A few of the players who eventually would make up The Bangas caught the show, but recognized the potential and turned St. Claude Avenue into a newly born part of music history.

Tank’s dad is a disc jockey and one helluva nickname-giver.

Tarriona Ball‘s dad was a well-known disc jockey and French Quarter carriage driver nicknamed “Cannonball”. He saw the spark in his kid’s eyes at a young age and nicknamed her “Tank” because she seemed to be single-minded and driven towards creativity and success. Now, as the general of her own groove, she seems to be building quite the sonic war machine.

Even though the studio awaits, Tank and the Bangas feel at home on festival stages.

“There’s just something about the sound and the energy when you’re playing outside,” Tank said to The Advocate in a recent chat. With the group in the studio putting the finishing touches on their next reveal, it seems that Tank and the Bangas shine at their best when they’re on the festival circuit.

Tank and Jelly are the 21st century Run-DMC with funk.

Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph is the fly girl to Tanks’ bright sunflower style. Together, the duo compliment each other in theatrics, in song and in keeping the crowds attention (especially on the second song, “Quick”). Their back-and-forth and improvised style is inspiring and gives them the chemistry vibe like Run-DMC.

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