Simka’s name was chosen from the Yiddish word for celebration, has been playing at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, parties, and charity events in the North Bay for over six years. Besides klezmer music, the band’s repertoire includes Israeli folk dances, jazz standards, tangos, polkas, fiddle tunes, and what the band affectionately calls “café music” – accordion-based tunes that invoke the feeling of the “old country.”
Band originators Leta Davis (violin) and Andy Weinberger (guitar), as well as drummer David Ross, live in Sonoma. Leta, who has played violin since she was eight years old, was classically trained. Andy moved from the East Coast to open a bookstore in Sonoma, and he brought with him a genetic disposition for klezmer and jazz. David, besides being a versatile drummer, is also a classical pianist. David and Leta, who are married to one another, also perform classical piano and violin pieces together. Bass player David Ballo, the newest member of the band, lives in Santa Rosa, and was a founding member of Limonim, one of Sonoma County’s earliest klezmer bands.
The heart of Simka is, of course, the accordion, beautifully played by Ruth Edwards, who also lives in Sonoma. Ruth is also known to Cotati Accordion Festival enthusiasts as the official “Lady of Spain.” Before Ruth joined the band, Leta pined for an accordionist, but didn’t know how to conjure one up. One day, Ruth showed up on the rehearsal doorstep versed mostly in French, Italian and polka music, but with a keen desire to learn klezmer. She has since mastered the exciting rhythms and textures of klezmer music, while also slyly weaving in the smooth romance of French and Italian tunes which are so appealing on the accordion. The musical excitement that was sparked on that first day at rehearsal has never let up.
“The real signature of our band,” says Leta, “is that we have a great time playing this music together. We are so happy when we play! That’s why we chose the name Simka.“The band has a wonderful chemistry, and anyone listening to their CD, Café Society, can hear it in a second. For information and bookings, contact Leta Davis at 707-996-5233 or at