Past Concerts 2015

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Gari Hegedus is one of the most accomplished string instruments player, both plucked & bowed, in the context of Balkan and Middle Eastern music.

He has been one of the most active players in the San Francisco Bay area. He has studied with Oud master, Naseer Shamma, and recorded and performed with Ross Daly.

Gari has collaborated with some of the finest ensembles including; Stellamara, Teslim, Janam, The Helladelics and Eliyahu & The Qadim Ensemble.

This concert, An Oud Recital, dedicated to the art of the Oud, is Gari's 2nd solo performance in Davis!!

In my personal opinion, this is one of the HIGHLIGHTS of this year music series!

Sunday, January 25, 2015, 7:00pm

Village Homes Community Center

2661 Portage Bay East, Davis, CA 95616

$13 in advance (+$0.75 charge for on-line sales), $17 at the door

for more info. call; (530) 867-1032

OUD RECITAL with Gari Hegedus with guest Faisal Zedan

on Percussion 

The Disciples of Markos

The Disciples of Markos are one of the few bands today that play classic Rebetika, a style of music that developed in the underworld of 1930s Greece. The music was born in the ghettos of Athens from the mixture of Greek and Turkish folk styles when thousands of immigrants came from Turkey in the 1920s. It was the music of dopers, thieves, prostitutes, beatniks, dandies, and all sorts of shady characters. This heavy, low-down music told the stories of the hardscrabble underworld life of knife fights, drug busts, love and longing.

The band consists of veterans of the Bay Area music scene well-versed in Balkan music, as well as rock, jazz, bluegrass, cajun and more. The Disciples of Markos are currently the house band at the Berkeley Balkan Bacchanal, a monthly music series  which takes place on the 3rd Thursday of each month (2nd Fridays starting in 2014) at the Starry Plough in Berkeley.

Dinos Demakos - vocals, percussion, baglama

Dmitri Mavra - bouzouki

Julay Broukounas - guitar, vocals

Kosmos Gervisis - accordion, violin, baglama

Pavlakis Wernick – baglama, bouzouki

The Disciples of Markos were founded in 2005 with the goal of exploring the music of Markos Vamvakaris, the most famous singer, songwriter, and the heaviest, most stoned-out bouzouki player of the 1930s. In addition to the songs of Markos Vamvakaris, the Disciples play songs by many of his cohorts and peers; the great Tstisanis, Delias, Batis, and others. While bouzouki is the main instrument in a Rebetika ensemble, the Disciples like to include other instruments from the classic era; accordion, violin, baglama, tzouras, even the classic clinking of the ouzo glasses .

Sunday March 22day, 2015 at 7:00pm

Village Homes Community Center

2661 Portage Bay East, Davis, CA 95616

$13 in advance (+$0.75 charge for on-line sales), $17 at the door

for more info. call; (530) 867-1032

An evening of an eclectic mix of Turkish, Romani, Sephardic, Balkan and American roots music plus originals inspired by these traditions.

Featuring... JANAM


Janam creates a compelling, eclectic mix of Balkan, Romani, Sephardic and American roots music, plus inspired originals. These sultry rhythms and soul-stirring melodies deliver a dance- and trance-inducing groove that carries the listener from the shores of the Black Sea to the foothills of the Appalachians.

Founded by extraordinary vocalist and former music director of Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble, Juliana Graffagna, Janam features several of the Bay Area’s most innovative interpreters of Southern Balkan and Middle Eastern traditional music.

Janam’s collective experience includes literally decades of national and international touring, participation in local super groups Brass Menažeri, Stellamara, Edessa, and Gamelan X, and performances with Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Madonna, Ivan Milev, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Janam features:

Juliana Graffagna ~ vocals, percussion

Lila Sklar ~ violin, vocals

Tom Farris ~ laouto, guitar, accordion

Gari Hegedus ~ oud, saz, mandocello, violin

Dan Auvil ~ percussion, vocals

“An innovative ensemble that explores a dizzying range of styles, from Appalachia and Asia Minor to Eastern Europe. The quintet plays swirling, hard-driving music that always seems to end up in unexpected places.” 



“This fine group goes on a world tour of Eastern Europe…with no cultural jet lag.”



“They’re a band to watch, with some sterling musicianship and a real sense of fervor about them.” SING OUT!

Saturday, May 9 at 8 pm

Village Homes Community Center

2661 Portage Bay East, Davis, CA 95616

$13 in advance $17 at the door or more info,

call (530) 867-1032

The first show on their

first West Coast Tour

A NY- Based Balkan A Cappella Trio

Black Sea Hotel

Willa Roberts, Shelley Thomas and Sarah Small

At once lyrical and ethereal, dissonant and driving, Black Sea Hotel’s distinct yet unified voices create a harmonic blend that is often called otherworldly, haunting, even spellbinding. Affectionately dubbed a “punk rock version of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares”, the NY-based a cappella trio draws its inspiration from the rich traditions of Balkan folk song. The group gathers material from master singers, archival field recordings, and large mid-century choral arrangements, creating original, complex three-voiced compositions.

The sometimes strident, sometimes unearthly textures and overtones characteristic of Black Sea Hotel’s sound evoke ancient yet potent stories which still resonate today.Black Sea Hotel’s appeal draws a remarkably broad audience. They perform at venues ranging from world class concert halls to downtown clubs, from international folk festivals and universities, to the Bulgarian Embassy.

The group has collaborated with such musical luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma (and Silk Road Ensemble), Kremena Stancheva (Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens), and beat-boxer Adam Matta (Carolina Chocolate Drops), as well as Brooklyn Balkan bands Ansambl Mastika and Raya Brass Band.

The trio has been broadcast live internationally on PRI’s The World Global Hit Segment, on John Schaefer's Soundcheck on WNYC, as well as on WFMU, WAMU, KDVS, KUNM, KSFR, and Sirius XM Radio, among others. The group tours regularly and leads workshops,classes, and lecture-demos in Balkan singing nationwide. Most recently, the trio recorded with Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble in March 2015.Black Sea Hotel’s live performances and recordings have been praised by The Washington Post, Paul Schomer of National Public Radio, David Byrne, music producer Martin Bisi, LucidCulture, New York Music Daily, Timeout NY, East Village Radio, and more.

The group's latest album, The Forest is Shaking and Swaying, was chosen for the Year’s Top 50 Albums in 2014 by New York Music Daily, as was their debut album in 2009. Their first album debuted at #2 on iTunes World Music Top Albums, and was chosen as Editor’s Pick / Featured Artist on CD Baby. Black Sea Hotel’s much-anticipated new album, The Forest is Shaking and Swaying, was released in Fall 2013.


“[These ladies] are exceptional musicians and magnificent singers. Listening to them singing Bulgarian folk songs brings me back to my childhood... Their performance is just fascinating.” — Kremena Stancheva (Soloist, Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares)

“[Black Sea Hotel’s] painstakingly researched and innovative arrangements of traditional Balkan folk songs are performed with a refined emotion that hits with the magnetic pull of rock-bound sirens. Just tie me to the mast now...” — Paul Schomer (Producer, National Public Radio) - Paul Schomer (Producer, National Public Radio)

“...purveyors of eerie Balkan Harmonies.”    — The New York Times“

...Black Sea Hotel takes some of the most compelling elements of Balkan folk music and strips them down to their barest form. The vocal trio executes the kind of close, difficult harmonies that inspired Kate Bush to collaborate with Trio Bulgarka...

The Brooklynites celebrate their fondness for Balkan song with precision.”— The Washington Post

"One of 2014's most spellbinding shows... The three women held the crowd rapt with their original arrangements of both obscure and iconic themes, with intricate, intoxicating counterpoint, tightly dancing tempos, unexpected stops and starts and split-second choreography. There’s some irony in the fact that Black Sea Hotel’s often centuries-old repertoire is built on harmony as sophisticated and avant garde as anything being played or sung today."--- Delarue, New York Music Daily Concert Review - 2014

An Evening with Veretski Pass

June 7, 2015, 7PM

Village Homes Community Center

2661 Portage Bay East, Davis, CA 95616

$13 in advance $17 at the door or more info, call (530) 867-1032


Cookie Segelstein - Violin, Viola

Joshua Horowitz – Cimbalom, Chromatic Button Accordion, Piano

Stuart Brotman - Bass, Basy, Tilinca, Baraban

Veretski Pass will be playing their new program, “Poyln”, the music of Polish Jews and Jewish Poles. The entire program brings a fresh new perspective to the genre, “klezmer music” and is bound to surprise and delight their audience.

In Eastern Europe, the roots of World Music go back centuries. Jews and

Moslems, Magyars, Rumanians, Ukrainians and Roma played music together in an atmosphere of sharing, in a multicultural area where professional musicians had to know as many musical styles as the diverse languages of the people with whom they lived and worked. Across the Veretski Pass, the mountain pass in theCarpathians through which Magyar tribes into crossed into the Carpathian basin in 895 AD, and through which the emigrating Jews first settled in Transcarpathia, the musical traditions were as varied as the people who lived there.

Taking it’s name from this cultural hotbed, Veretski Pass offers a unique and exciting combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. With colorful instrumentation, unique arrangements and compositions, Veretski Pass plays "Old Country" music; music with origins in the Ottoman Empire, once fabled as the borderlands of the East and the West. In a true collage of Carpathian, Jewish, Rumanian and Ottoman styles, typical suites contain dances from Moldavia and Bessarabia; Jewish melodies from Poland and Rumania, Hutzul wedding music from Carpathian-Ruthenia, and haunting Rebetic aires from Smyrna, seamlessly integrated with original compositions. Much of this rare music has been gleaned from field recordings gathered by the musicians in numerous trips throughout Europe, as well as from family members.

Often touring in Europe, they have twice been chosen as ambassadors

representing traditional Jewish Instrumental Music of Eastern Europe for the German World Exhibition of Klezmer History (Klezmerwelten) and have headlined the Jewish Music Festival of the University of London. They recently performed at the prestigious Concertgebouw Concert Hall in Amsterdam to a sold out audience with a standing ovation, and their CDs have repeatedly been on the 10-best recordings lists of journalists. Cookie’s unique violin style was featured for a Jewish wedding scene on HBO’s “Sex and the City” and Josh and Stu’s compositions provided the music for Jes Benstock's award-winning film “The Holocaust Tourist."

The HOHLAX trio

The HOHLAX trio was formed in 2007 on the Greek island of Amorgos . They have relocated and are currently based in Athens. The name HOHLAX refers to the beach HOHLAKAS, where the members of the group have spent many summers together. This beach, provided much inspiration and gives the group members of HOHLAX a unique energy and force, which, together with their dedication to the music tradition of Greece, makes for a unique and moving musical experience.

Hohlax Trio is comprised of trained professional musicians experienced in musical education and performance in both Greece and the United States. In addition to the four CDs which they have released, their performances have been broadcast on radio and television. 

The trio has already embarked on four tours in California in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014.  Hohlax tours include but are not limited to, concerts, dance events, festivals, performance-talks at universities, private parties and dances. The members for this upcoming tour are violinist Jaime Smith, bouzouki player and songwriter Orestis Koletsos and a very special surprise on vocals/guitar. Last year they announced the release of Orestis Koletsos' CD entitled "Me Plimirizei Fos", featuring Mariw, Foteini Velessiotou, Martha Fritzila, and other significant singers of Greece. All these recordings will be available during their LIVE shows.


ORESTIS KOLETSOS was born in Paris and grew up in Athens. He studied music from his early childhood and started playing the bouzouki at the age of 15. Orestis was a student of the late Yiannis Palaiologou, one of the most important bouzouki players in the Greek recording industry and performance venues and also the nephew of Markos Vamvakaris (founder of the genre "Rembetika"). Orestis also has a degree in Biology from the University of Athens. For the past 17 years, Orestis has been performing in concerts and playing in various music venues and nightclubs. He has performed concerts for important composers such as Nikos Mamagakis and Ilias Andriopoulos which have been aired on television and radio programs. Orestis has collaborated in venues and on television with singers Mario, the "Rembetissa", Martha Frintzila and Zaharias Karounis, amongst many others. He has recorded with Martha Frintzila on an album entitled, "Martha Frintzila sings Themos Skandamis," which was released in 2011. He frequently performs throughout Greece and Cyprus with Hohlax, and is looking forward to their fifth tour of California this September. Being a talented song-writer himself, Orestis has presented and performed his own songs for noteworthy television and radio shows. Last winter he released his own personal CD, collaborating with acclaimed singers such as Martha Frintzila, Mario, Foteini Velessiotou and others. This CD, entitled "Me Plimirizei Fos," is currently being broadcast daily on radio stations throughout Greece.

JAIME SMITH began her formal Classical Violin Performance studies in her home town with William Barbini (Concert-master, Sacramento Symphony) at California State University, Sacramento. She then moved east and continued her studies with Malcolm Lowe (Concert-master, Boston Symphony) and Eric Rosenblith (String department Chair, N.E.C.) at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she graduated with a degree in Violin Performance. Just a year later in 1999, Jaime was the first musician to be granted a Fulbright Scholarship to Greece to study its' traditional music in Athens. She attended the Ethniko Odeio (National Conservatory) with Yiannis Zevgolis, and then continued under the direction of Kyriakos Gouventas at the Odeio Athinon (Athens Conservatory). Jaime was also a student of Christos Tsiamoulis, the country's expert on makam theory and traditional music. She has spent the last 16 years living in Athens and performing all over Greece and Cyprus with celebrated artists such as the famous and beloved Mario, the "Rembetissa", with whom she played with for 4 consecutive years. Jaime has also collaborated with Nikos and Giasemi Saragoudas, David Nachmias and Kostis Maraveyas to name only a few, and was a member of the musical group "Smyrni-Buenos Aires, Parallel Lives" featuring Bruno Dando, Kostas Kalafatis and Iraklis Vavatsikas. Jaime has recorded for the renowned composer Nikos Mamagakis, Mario the "Rembetissa” and Martha Frintzila. This year she recorded for the new budding singer/songwriter Orestis Koletsos on his first album entitled “Me Plimirizei Fos”, which is currently being aired daily on a number of radio stations in Greece. She has performed countless times for Greek and Cypriot television and radio. In 2007, she formed the trio Hohlax, and in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014 organized concert tours of California, dedicated to sharing her love for Greek music to others. In 2010 Jaime had the pleasure to perform her own piece, "Brest 7" on television in Cyprus with Hohlax; a challenging Kalamatiano in the Asia Minor style. In August 2014, Jaime was invited to talk about and present music from Smyrni on the island of Tinos with her violin, in collaboration with an exhibition presenting rare and old pictures of the island. She is bringing her trio Hohlax for their fifth  California tour in September, where, along with her scheduled performances and events she will be holding performance/seminars at California State University, Sacramento, University of California, Davis and San Francisco State University.

APOSTOLIS KOUNIS was born in Central Greece (Larissa) and began singing and playing guitar at the age of 12. He studied at the Modern School of Music in Thessaloniki and then in Athens with Vassilis Rakopoulos, a prominent recording artist of eclectic styles. He has studied Byzantine Music and Music Harmony and is currently a student of the oud with Christos Tsiamoulis. Apostolis performs in concerts and music venues throughout Greece, and has played for documentaries on Greek television. Apostolis has toured Greece and Cyprus numerous times with Hohlax Trio, and is awaiting their third tour this upcoming September.

ATHENA was born and raised in Limenaria, Thasos, a small village on an also small island in the northern Aegean Sea. She began playing guitar at 8 and took lessons for 3 years. From 2002 to 2011 she lived in Rethimo where she studied Modern European History at the University of Crete.

From 2004 she began to collaborate with Cretan musicians, and learned laouto next to Stelios Sikakis and Dimitris Sideris. She has also worked with lyra players Zacharias Spiridakis and Dimitri Sgouros. In 2007 she participated in a triple CD of Dimitris Sgouros "Songs and Melodies of Crete.  The archives of Paul G. Vlastos", which was released in April, 2011.

From 2012 she is living and working as a musician in Athens while continuing her musical studies. Since 2014 she has been touring with Giorgos Dalaras, Rebetiko Unplugged, in Europe and the U.S.



Sabaya is Diana Strong (accordion), Briana Di Mara (violin), and Faisal Zedan (percussion) — a newly formed trio of accomplished Bay Area musicians, performing traditional and original melodies inspired by the music of the Balkans and Near East. With rich harmonies, danceable grooves, and soulful improvisation. Sabaya (meaning “the girls” in Arabic) is more than just the girls!


Faisal Zedan

Born March 5th. 1972 in  Beirut, Lebanon and raised in Oum Dbaib, Syria, Faisal Zedan grew up impassioned with the Derbakki. At the age of 15, after intensive study with a local drummer, Faisal embarked on a journey of learning through exposure to a wide repertoire of Arabic classical and contemporary music.Years of tireless practice, along with the love of the drumming, has resulted in the mastery of the Derbakki, as well as the Riq and Def ( Arabic/Turkish frame drum). Faisal embodied the elements essential to Arabic drumming

combined with a deeper understanding of the complexities of Arabic musical structures. From the classical Muwashahat and Adwar style, to simpler folkloric, styles to belly dance. Faisal also studied and performed  the various Arabic styles of music and drumming, from Moroccan music to Iraqi music and the music of the Arab peninsula and Yemen.

Faisal studied and performed middle eastern music such as; Turkish, Armenian, Persian and Afghan. He also studied and performed eastern European styles of music such as; Balkan, and Greek. His unique approach mixes thousands of years of tradition with pure emotion and a contemporary feel. After coming to California in 1992, he met UCLA's noted ethnomusicology professor Dr. Ali Jihad Racy and was invited to join the acclaimed UCLA Near East Music Ensemble. While playing to a wide and varied audiences in concert with the Ensemble. In 1993 Faisal became a founding member of the Near East music group, Kan Zaman.

In 1996, Faisal taught at Mendocino’s middle eastern music and dance camp for the first time then He became staff at the camp since 2011. Faisal met, performed and studied with many notable musicians at the music camp. Since 2003, Faisal has been teaching at different music camps on the west coast and abroad. He has been also teaching  percussion workshops and private instruction throughout the United states.

In 2009, faisal released his first instructional DVD for Arabic drumming. He also released a duet CD. with Qanoun player Samer Farah

In 2011, he released a belly dance drum solo instructional DVD along with dancer Mariyah.

Faisal works with many different musicians, dancers and ensembles.

His current affiliation with music groups such as; Qadim and Zikrayat ensemble. In addition to many recording projects and cooperation with fellow musicians from different musical backgrounds.

More about Faisal at;


Facebook; faisal zedan

Diana Strong

began studying piano at age seven, and discovered the accordion in 2006, playing an eclectic mix of international folk music including Balkan, French, Brazilian and original tunes. In 2010, she cofounded Sweet Moments of Confusion with cellist Myra Joy, performing original instrumental music across the West Coast and releasing a debut album in 2012. She has also toured and performed with a wide variety of groups including the Accordion Babes Calendar Revue (2013), the Patty Dukes (vocal harmonies with cousin Juliet Strong), the Red Hot Chachkas (klezmer fusion), and has collaborated with dance and theater groups including Sweet Can Circus, Central Works Theater, Fog Beast Dance, and many others. Currently, she plays Balkan-inspired originals with Sabaya, and Brazilian forró with Dona Francisa. In addition to performing, Diana teaches elementary school music classes and private piano and accordion lessons to students of all ages.

Briana Di Mara

has been playing violin since age 6. She was trained in classical violin with the Suzuki Method and has since gone on to study a variety of traditional styles including Irish, English, Greek, Turkish, Persian, Afghan and Arabic. She has been influenced by master musicians from all corners of the world, and this has harmoniously blended into her own unique style on the violin. 

She has performed and recorded with numerous artists, including Stellamara, Moh Alileche, Aywah, Diana Strong and Myra Joy of Sweet Moments of Confusion, the Silk Road Caravan, La Ruya, Melita Doostan, Ali Paris, Dan Cantrell and Daniel Fríes. Her current projects include the band Sabaya, with Balkan influenced original fusion, and Hothouse Habibi, which includes Arabic, Turkish and original compositions. These musical pursuits have led her to perform in a wide variety of musical venues, theaters and festivals all across California and beyond. It is a privilege to share the music that is food for her soul. 

Her love of the instrument and gratitude for learning with the Suzuki method as a child led her to become a certified Suzuki instructor, and since 2002 she has enjoyed teaching students of all ages in her private violin studio. Her vibrant method incorporates Suzuki as well as various fiddle styles. She is currently the strings instructor at the Berkeley Rose School and has also been an assistant teacher at the Sacramento Waldorf School.  

Finally, she has been on the teaching staff at Lark Music Camp, Middle Eastern Music and Dance camp, and the Sierra Music and Arts Institute, all in California. 

She maintains teaching studios in both Oakland and Sacramento, CA.

An Evening of Middle Eastern & Balkan Traditional Music with


November 22, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Village Homes Community Center

2661 Portage Bay East, Davis, CA 95616

$13 in advance $17 at the door or more info, call (530) 867-1032

Sabaya live; original composition in 9/8 beat cycle by Briana