Joe Blumenthal, Kitty Kagay, Bob Schulz,
Barbara MacLean, Deb Szajnberg, Karen Klevanosky

MerakKef Express is a recently formed group of singers and instrumentalists who play folk-dance music from around the world, with an emphasis on Eastern Europe. “Merak” means passion, desire or longing in Macedonian and “Kef” (as explained by the Eastern European Folklife Center) “is a word used in various forms throughout the Balkans to convey a spirit of pleasure and enjoyment, such as one experiences when partaking of good food, music, dancing and friendship.”  Our music is mostly dance tunes from Bulgaria, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republics (Macedonia, Serbia, and Croatia), Romania, Hungary, Albania, Israel, Turkey, Armenia and a few others. Songs are sung in the language of the country of origin in authentic vocal style.  Band members attend workshops and music camps to learn the tunes, songs and musical styles of the Balkan region.

Our Musicians:

  • Joe Blumenthal – string bass, percussion
  • Kitty Kagay – vocals, percussion
  • Karen Klevanosky – saxophone, flute, piccolo, kaval, percussion, vocals
  • Barbara MacLean – clarinet, tambura (Bulgarian and Macedonian mandolins), vocals, percussion
  • Bob Schulz – laouto (large Greek mandolin), guitar, tambura (Bulgarian and Macedonian mandolins), vocals
  • Debby Szajnberg – violin, vocals, percussion
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