Location: Eureka, Calif.
Occupation: I teach part time at Humboldt State University, in Sociology and Politics.
Connection to Balkan music/dance: I am involved with Balkan music in a couple of ways. For the past couple of years I have been attending the Balkan meet-up hosted by Craig Kurumada and Linnea Mandell in Arcata, Calif. Craig and Linnea generously host this meet-up to introduce and teach Balkan folk songs to interested musicians and singers. When their teaching meet-up is not happening, I host a weekly Balkan meet-up in a yurt in my backyard. I also occasionally play with a local group called The EthniKs. This group plays mostly Balkan folk songs and once every couple of months we play for the local folk dance group. There is a pretty consistent group of local musicians who are interested in Balkan music and so I hope to continue to play with and learn from them.
Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my second time at Balkan camp and I definitely plan to keep coming if at all possible. This past year was marked by some financial disasters for me, so it was very helpful to have a scholarship to Balkan camp. I hope to be in a position to pay my way next year.
Studied at camp: My main focus at camp this year was Macedonian tambura and the Greek strings and rebetika groups. I also play Bulgarian tambura and I intend to take classes in that at future camps. I am also interested in drumming and singing classes, and possibly other instruments, if I have the time.
Memorable moment at camp: The opportunity to play in ensembles for dancers is really a highlight of Balkan camp, especially because there are so many enthusiastic and talented dancers and musicians. But I have to say that for me the most amazing part of camp is the sing-alongs. Particularly the one led by Michele [Simon] and also the one led by Christos [Govetas]. Perhaps is the simplicity of people singing together, or the intensity of the camp experience, although more likely it is the combination of these along with the pure beauty of the songs that make the group sings so moving. Michele is an excellent song leader. She divides the group into parts for harmonies or diatonic parts and with so many voices the room resonates with sound like a rung bell. Bringing those songs to life through our singing is the heart of Balkan camp for me.