Mandrágora Tango Press Kit

Welcome to the Mandrágora Tango press kit. You should be able to find almost anything you need to know about us here. Our official press guide is available here in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat formats.

If there is anything else you need, please don't hesitate to contact bandleader Bob Barnes at (612) 722-2554 or


Photo: Silvia Horwitz

Promotional Photos

Here are our best pictures. You can click on them to get the high-resolution versions. All of them were taken by Michael Gitler
Standing in front of the Minneapolis skyline on a cold December day. The black coats just scream "Minnesota!" A staged action shot in the Loring Pasta Bar, where we play every Sunday evening.
A shot of us lounging arround, looking cool. The background may be too busy for newsprint, but this would look great in a magazine. A closeley grouped picture with heads and instruments


2-Line Logo with Bellows PDF EPS
Single line wordmark PDF EPS

Our Newest Album: "Siete Tandas"

(Feel free to paraphrase or simply cut and paste this into and media you can think of!) We've just finished our newest album: Siete Tandas. Tango dancers group their dances into little sets called .tandas.. The idea is that you dance with the same partner for the whole tanda, then move on. It becomes a miniature love affair, where you get to know your partner, start to grove together, and have a sorrowful separation, all in the course of 12 minutes of music. Mandragora has created an album of 7 of these affairs with the super-original title Siete Tandas (Seven Tandas in Spanish).

Siete Tandas is meant first and foremost for dancing. It is an interpretation of an idealized evening of tango dancing. It starts early (11PM or so) with tandas of traditional, highly rhythmic Argentine tangos and gets more and more lush and passionate as the night progresses. To keep things from getting too hot, it breaks up the evening with a tanda of .Vals. (Argentine Waltzes) and .Milongas. (an Argentine 2-step). But as the night goes on, the temperature continues to rise and Mandragora takes the dancers into more and more sensual and exotic soundscapes. In the small hours of the morning, Mandragora plays a tanda of heart-achingly beautiful slow dances by Astor Piazzolla. The dancers who are left on the nearly empty floor can enjoy an almost erotic interplay of sound and motion before they go their separate ways. Or not.

At any rate, our album is the result of a lot of hard work and was made possible by the tango community of Minnesota, for whom we play every Sunday for the past 8 years. We believe that we have played for more .Milongas. (Tango dance parties) than any other band in the US. And, as dancers ourselves, we understand the difference between playing concert music and playing for social dance. However, in creating .Siete Tandas., we never chose dancibility over musicality (or vice-versa). You don.t need to dance to appreciate this album. You just have to have a little darkness in your soul.

From the Tango Los Mareados (Track 11):

       Hoy vas a entrar en el pasado de mi vida...
       Tres cosas lleva mi alma herida: Amor... Pesar... Dolor!

       Today you are going to enter the past of my life.
       Three things are carried by my wounded heart: Love... Despair... Pain!

You can download Siete Tandas as a ZIP file or as a RAR file. Both at 136M. You can also pop-up an new window and listen online (Same player as above)

Our Previous Album

Our previous recording, Let's Have Dinner and Go Dancing With Mandrágora Tango is still available. While we believe all of these tracks to be fabulous, you might be espeically interested in La Cumparsita, Huelle como espíritu adolescente (A Tango cover of Nirvana's Smells like Teen Spirit), El Garron or Tempranillo. These tracks have recieved the most airplay and are a strong representaion of what we do.

You can download the entire album here Feel free to share this link with others.

Our Tech Needs and Stage Plots

Our backstage needs are nowhere near as detailed and hilarious as the Foo Fighters or Iggy Pop (a bit obscene) We don't require anything special backstage. Whatever you have on hand is fine. We actually prefer tap water to bottled. Our Stage Plot is also quite simple. Since we all play acoustic music at a moderate volume, we are pretty easy to mic and we don't require a lot in the way of monitors. We can bring and run our own sound system, but this needs to be agreed upon up front.

One Line Description

Mandrágora Tango: Nostalgic tango that stirs the soul and moves the feet.

One Paragraph Description

Mandrágora Tango is a vibrant collective of tango musicians based in Minneapolis. Mandrágora Tango is dedicated to preserving the nearly-lost musical forms of tango and translating them for today.s listeners and dancers. Tango music defies categorization, living somewhere between classical, jazz and world beat. Mandrágora dances across those lines and creates a music that is fresh, engaging, danceable and nostalgic.

One Page Description

Mandrágora Tango is a vibrant collective of tango musicians based in Minneapolis. Mandrágora Tango is dedicated to preserving the nearly-lost musical forms of tango and translating them for today's listeners and dancers. Mandrágora Tango was founded by Bob Barnes in 2001 as a chamber music ensemble to play the music of Argentine composer and bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla. When he founded Mandrágora, Bob had no idea that people still danced to tango. Mandrágora soon fell into the Minneapolis tango dance scene and started playing for milongas (tango dance parties). In 2002 they started playing a weekly Sunday night milonga at the Loring Pasta Bar, a long-term gig that continues to this day. In 2003, Bob started to add a piano and a string quartet to the mix and created the Mandrágora Tango Orchestra, a larger group dedicated to more symphonic tango styles. In 2005, Bob started to play the bandoneon, a squared-off accordion that is used for tango.

Tango can be described as classical music that can be danced to. A 3 minute love affair. A vertical expression of a horizontal desire. It is played on acoustic instruments and follows classical conventions, but has a strong beat, jazz harmonies and a nostalgic melancholy that is seldom encountered in the concert hall. Tango music defies categorization, living somewhere between classical, jazz, and Latin music. Mandrágora dances over those lines and creates a music that is fresh, engaging, danceable and nostalgic.

Mandrágora has appeared on Minnesota Public Radio, on Twin Cities Public Television, at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, with the Vocalessence choir, with the Tony-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune and at many other concert and dance venues in and around the Twin Cities. Mandrágora and Theatre de le Jeune Lune's co-presentation of Astor Piazzolla's tango-operita Maria de Buenos Aires was named "Best Overall Theater Work" for 2005 by City Pages of Minneapolis.

"Let's Have Dinner and Go Dancing With Mandrágora Tango" is a collection of tangos, vals (waltzes) and milongas (2-steps) recoded over the past year or so. The tracks range from rollicking guardia vieja (old style) tangos to lush epocha d'ora (golden age) ones, as well as some of Bob Barnes's originals and a curious tango version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Mandrágora has also recorded a neo-tang version of the world's most famous tango, La Cumparsita, mashed up with the 40-lashes bass riff from Jesus Christ Superstar. They refer to this version as "Tango electronica played on acoustic instruments".

What the media has to say about us:

DJ Mark Wheat of "The Current 89.3FM" says:
"Let's Have Dinner and Go Dancing [with the Mandrágora Tango Orchestra]" is their set of tangos. I must admit admit that I might guarantee that it will put you in the mood. Put that on at home and put out the dinner and the wine and the roses.

The Twin Cities' alternative newsweekly Theatre de la Jeunne Lune: both Best Opera 2005 and Best Overall Theater Work, as well as giving it a pretty good review entitled I Just Met a Girl Named Maria, and Now I'm Going to Kill Myself when it first came out. Here's what they said:
  • This show ran around the same time Jeune Lune learned that it had received a 2005 Regional Theatre Tony Award --and was a triumph of its own. A tango opera by Astor Piazzola that premiered in 1968, Maria explores the feminine embodiment of the Buenos Aires underclass, in a vector that leads inescapably to the grave. Piazzola's original opera played around with dualities, and in this production Christina Baldwin and Jennifer Baldwin Peden portrayed Maria split into two, a move echoed by the tag-team depiction of her suitor the Spirit Poet (Steven Epp and Bradley Greenwald). The Mandragora Tango Orchestra provided an understated take on Piazzola's compositions to good effect (tip for Piazzola lovers: Violin hero Gidon Kremer released Tracing Astor in 2001, and it is minimal, and beautiful). You walked away feeling as though you had seen sights and heard sounds not soon to be reproduced.
  • As high-heeled señoritas cavorted with their lovers, a ragtag ensemble of street instruments--accordion, guitar, upright base [sic], and the like--pulsed and stomped to the beat of an Argentine marketplace.
  • And the understated music of the Mandragora Tango Orchestra (led by conductor and accordionist Bob Barnes) nicely tackles Piazzolla's elaborate variations on the tango, lending a sophisticated dynamic range without resorting to overpowering noise.

Minesota Public Radio did a feature on the Mandrágora Tango Orchestra and the CD release party for Let's Have Dinner and Go Dancing. They also included a great slideshow presentation of local dancers talking tango over images of a Sunday night at the Loring Pasta Bar

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press says of Maria de Buenos Aires: The images are compelling and the music of the Mandragora Tango Orchestra is lush. But the tango opera conveys no clear message, only a whiff of smoke and emotion reflected in funhouse mirrors. Like an enigmatic dream, "Maria de Buenos Aires" leaves one wondering and a bit dazed -- but still dazzled.

Folks who've bought our CD from CD Baby have said some great things about us:
  • 5/5 Stars: I'll dance to it! I had originally purchased the first CD, Mandragora Plays Tangos and Sad Waltzes, and I liked it so much that I consulted their website. It was on their website that I was made familiar with the most recent release. Although it is true that I was first attracted to TANGCHRIST SUPERSTAR and the cover of SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT, the rest of the music is pleasant and quite danceable. Now, if I could only get them to organize their CD into tandas -- yes, I like my waltzes separated together and my tangos separated together. I liked the CD so much that I bought an extra copy to send to a friend in Montreal for Christmas. It really says something positive when I purchase an extra copy to give as a gift. - Mark B. Hammond
  • 5/5 Stars: Fabulous This is a beautiful CD collection of Latin American music. It has opened up a new musical dimension for me. The arrangements and interpretations are so original and very exciting. Over the years, I have heard La Cumparsita a million times but never played like this before. It is a gem. Congratulations and thank you. Shirley Fredericksen