American gothic: Macabre tunes at Battle of Brooklyn event

Face the music: Ellia Bisker and Jeff Morris, who make up the Brooklyn band Charming Disaster, will fill the Green-Wood Cemetery air with music inspired by battle and ancient mythology on Aug. 26.
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Call them the band of the battle!

A Brooklyn duo known for Gothic songs of murder and mayhem will serenade visitors to Green-Wood Cemetery on Aug. 26 with songs of war. The band Charming Disaster will play the “Tales and Tunes” event, part of the graveyard’s run-up to the 241st anniversary celebration of the Battle of Brooklyn, and will break out new and old songs inspired by the battles of the Revolutionary War, said the band’s ukelele player.

“All the songs will have something to do with a battle,” said Ellia Bisker, who plays with guitarist Jeff Morris.

The Battle of Brooklyn took place in 1776, when General George Washington led a fighting retreat from British forces across the borough, and was fought on the land that is now Green-Wood Cemetery. The “Tales and Tunes” event will recreate the entertainment of that era, with dance demonstrations, period food, storytelling, and musical interludes by the Gothic duo, while the next day’s commemoration will feature a ceremony, parade, and a re-enactment of the battle.

For “Tales and Tunes,” the band’s expected playlist includes the song “Battlefield,” which the duo wrote for the Battle of Brooklyn event last year; “Ghost Story,” about a fictional duel, and several songs from the group’s latest album, “Cautionary Tale.”

The pair also draw musical inspiration from ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology and works of fiction, including those penned by Edgar Allen Poe, and each of its songs tells a story, said Bisker.

“We pull in all kinds of sources, but we focus on storytelli­ng,” she said.

Charming Disaster has played at Green-Wood three times before, and its guitarist says that the architecture and feel of the space perfectly complements the band’s music.

“A lot of our music takes on themes of ancient myths, especially underworld stories, so to get to play a song about Egyptian mythologies where there’s an actual Egyptian-style mausoleum — that doesn’t happen everyday,” said Morris.

Bisker said that the cemetery is a special place to perform live.

“The thing about Green-Wood is it feels like a place out of time, a little bit,” Bisker said. “The place has this very peaceful feeling to it but it’s also very special and unique. With the Gothic architecture, you feel like you’re in another universe. It’s such a special, magical venue for live performance.”

“Battle of Brooklyn: Tales and Tunes” at Green-Wood Cemetery (500 25th St. at Fifth Avenue in Greenwood Heights, Aug. 26 at 7 pm. $25 (free for kids 5 and younger).

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 5:56 pm, July 9, 2018
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