Common Tongue

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Bruce Burger, the founder and only member of Rebbe Soul, created this groovy, percussion-heavy world music group in 1999. It is an offshoot of Rebbe Soul, formed so that each highly talented member of…
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Artist Biography by

Bruce Burger, the founder and only member of Rebbe Soul, created this groovy, percussion-heavy world music group in 1999. It is an offshoot of Rebbe Soul, formed so that each highly talented member of Burger's backing band could have a chance to showcase his/her skills. Unlike Rebbe Soul, which is primarily influenced by Hebrew music, Common Tongue gleans influences from many different cultures and styles of music. It is also quite a bit closer to the rock genre, and unlike Rebbe Soul, which is often comprised of Burger and one or two backing musicians, Common Tongue never goes on-stage with less than the full instrumental lineup. Percussionist Casio Duarte of Brazil brings to the mix Latin American rhythms tempered with a healthy dose of Middle Eastern exotica. Steve Carter, the keyboardist, is an Oakland native with a diverse musical background. Though he toured with the likes of Love & Rockets and Spearhead, the genre that he loves best is West African music. East African music is represented by Joel Alpern, the Tanzanian drummer. Underscoring everything with a heavy line of old-school funk is bassist Deep Den, also an Oakland native. Powerhouse Lynn Rose belts out the vocals in a style reminiscent of Patti LaBelle or Aretha Franklin. Rounding out the lineup is Burger himself, who alternates between the guitar and the balalaika. Burger also provides backup vocals when necessary, though he clearly is happy to relinquish the mic to Rose, a longtime colleague and the backup singer of Rebbe Soul. Common Tongue self-released its first album, entitled Step Into My World, in 2000. As of 2001, a second album was still in pre-production. The band keeps busy though, performing at large and small venues all over the United States, especially in its home state of California. Lauded by various music critics for its innovative style and high-energy live show, Common Tongue is a favorite at West Coast world music festivals and gatherings. Its upbeat but free-flowing melodies, spicy rhythm section, and driving vocal lines lend themselves perfectly to the sun-drenched, incense-scented, Flower Child-influenced atmosphere of the outdoor festival.