Chicago Indie Band Canasta to Tour Mongolia as Part of U.S. State Department Performing Arts Initiative

By on January 20, 2012

Next month, Chicago indie band Canasta heads to the hinterlands of Mongolia as part of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Arts Envoy Program. The tour begins on February 3rd in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar and continues on to Sainshand and Dalanzadgad, finishing back in Ulaanbaatar on the 10th.
While they’ll play the same set as they would at Schubas, Metro, or any other venue in the U.S., the differences are as vast as the distance between the two countries. Rather than packing themselves and their gear into two cars, they’ll travel in a multi-truck convoy with the assistance of drivers, expeditors, and staff members from the U.S. Embassy.
“We were warned to prepare for temperatures in the negative twenties,” said Elizabeth Lindau, Canasta’s violinist and vocalist. “Figuring out the logistics for a six-person band and our gear has been no easy task. Add in mismatched electric currents, airline baggage limitations, and a twelve-hour time difference, and it becomes quite a challenge. We’re honored to receive the invitation and thrilled to bring our music to Mongolia.”
The tour is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.
The Arts Envoy Program shares the best of the U.S. arts community with the world to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration and to demonstrate shared values and aspirations. American arts professionals, including performing artists, visual artists, poets, playwrights, directors, and curators, travel overseas to perform, conduct workshops, and mentor young people. Programs seek to connect with international audiences that might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with American arts professionals. Arts Envoy exchanges last from 5 days to 6 weeks and take place worldwide.
In addition to live performances, Canasta will conduct classes and seminars for local music students, lead jam sessions, and discuss the creative process they use to bring their music to life.
“One of the more interesting things about us is our ‘craftsman-like’ approach — combining our music schooling background with our love of pop and rock, and then adding a lot of Midwestern hard work to craft our songs, rather than a virtuoso technique or inspiration from the muses,” said Lindau. “I hope we can inspire people to think about their musical heritage and perhaps new ways of combining instruments to create a sound that is unique to their country and culture.”
The band has been active stateside as well, they’ve released two cool new videos to help promote a national radio campaign for “Mexico City” and “Magazine (Songwriter on a Train)” See the videos here:
Canasta has toured the United States significantly, sharing the stage with Wilco, Grizzly Bear, Devotchka, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Menomena, Sloan, Kaiser Chiefs, White Rabbits and The Delgados. They even played a set for President Obama during his campaign. This is their first tour outside the country.

Canasta is Matt Priest (lead vocals, bass, trombone); Elizabeth Lindau (violin, vocals); Jeremy Beckford (guitar, vocals); Brian Palmieri (drums); Ryan Tracy (keyboard, piano, bass, vocals); and Sarah Kneebone (piano, keyboard, vocals).
For press photos, band bios and more visit


Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.