Southern Balkan folk dance music

Anoush has been playing music together for over 8 years, primarily for ethnic and folk dance events.  Their repertoire is folk music from the southern Balkans and Armenia, an area smaller than California that is home to an incredible diversity of ethnicities and cultures.

This diversity is embraced by the band members who have developed their own variety of musical interests and experience into a rich and distinctive sound.  Throughout their work, in the lilting songs of the Greek islands, or the wild odd-metered dance music of Bulgaria and Macedonia, or the haunting dissonant vocal harmonies of northern Greece and Albania, or elegant Armenian melodies, they are faithful not only to the subtlety of regional musical differences, but even more to the underlying spirit of the music with its tradition of improvisation and creative instrumentation.  You will hear vocals in many languages of the region (including Albanian, Armenian, Aruman [Vlach], Bulgarian, Greek, Ladino, Macedonian and Romany [Gypsy]) and you may just find yourself dancing.

The name Anoush is derived from the Armenian anoush, meaning sweetness.

Anoush is: Michael Matthews, clarinet; Ken McCormick, violin, vocals; Michele Simon, tupan, vocals; Ken White, darabuka, defi; Dan Ziagos, accordion.

Each musician has been playing Balkan folk music for more than twenty years and has performed in numerous other bands over the years.  In addition, everyone has studied with the best Balkan musicians in America as well as with musicians from the Balkans.

Dan Ziagos grew up in the large Greek-American community around Chicago and started playing accordion there as a child.  Dan started performing Greek and Balkan folk dance music while at college in Arcata, California.  Dan also studied with various Greek musicians for three years, while living in Greece during the 1980s.

Michele Simon has been with Kitka for over 10 years (the Bay Area’s own women’s vocal ensemble specializing in music from Eastern Europe), is a singing instructor at this year’s Mendocino Balkan Music & Dance Camp and also currently performs with the Brass Menagerie.  Ken McCormick has performed with Edessa (the Bay Area’s premier Balkan band).  Today, Ken and Michele are often guest musicians with Edessa and are also featured on Edessa’s new CD, titled “Edessa and Friends.”  Ken White has performed with Zhivo Bitov Ensemble in Portland, Oregon.  Michael Matthews and Dan have performed with the Dead Cretans in Arcata, California.