Barb MacLean, MerakKef Express Director, began folk dancing as a child and has played in folk dance bands since 1986. She has played in folk dance bands, Terpsichore and Nezabravka and is music director and a founding member of the band Bobba Culpa. She recently put together MerakKef Express. She sings and plays clarinet, tambura, and various percussion. She has taught folk dancing at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga, NY, at music therapy conferences and at her local dance group. Besides music, Barb’s passions include traveling (including dance seminars in Romania, Greece and Turkey), photography and natural horsemanship. Barb has sung in numerous choirs, including Albany Pro Musica Masterworks, has directed a few of them and organized several small vocal ensembles. She is a retired music therapist, having spent most of her career serving veterans.

Joe Blumenthal is a Northampton, MA based musician who plays bass in a variety of bands including Klezamir (playing Jewish weddings and bar-mitzvahs as well as concerts since 1988), Orkestar Banitsa (a folk dance band playing music of the Balkans), and Zay-Tunes (playing traditional Arabic music) in addition to MerakKef Express. He was a frequent “ringer” for Bobba Culpa, playing upright bass and percussion.  He also leads AEIOUkes, Northampton MA’s ukulele club. He recently retired from owning a musical instrument retail store, Downtown Sounds, in Northampton, MA .
Kitty Kagay has been actively involved in the folk dance community since 1975 as an international folk dancer and musician.  She danced with the George Tomov Yugoslav Ensemble from 1977-1979, including a performing tour throughout Yugoslavia and performance at Carnegie Hall.  She was a founding member of the bitov group Nezabravka, brass group The Hačeks, and IFD dance band Bobba Culpa, primarily singing Balkan music.  She has taught Balkan line dances and Scandinavian couple dances at local groups, workshops, and festivals, including the Dance Flurry.  She currently performs with MerakKef Express.  Her other vocal pursuits include Sacred Harp singing, with occasional forays into Scandinavian and Chinese singing.
Karen Klevanosky is a classically trained musician who has been playing flute for more than a half century, performing solo and chamber music in the Northeast and in France. She crossed over to the Balkan side in the mid-1990s when she joined the Bobba Culpa international band and began attending Balkan music and dance camps. Since then she has played various woodwind and percussion instruments and sung with Bobba Culpa, as well as the recently formed group, MerakKef Express. “kk” also sings in her synagogue choir and serves as a cantorial soloist.
Bob Schulz began playing guitar in 1965, performing rock, jazz and folk music. He discovered International folk dancing in 1977, subsequently teaching folk dancing as leader of the Tri-City Folk Dancers in New York State’s capital region and at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga Springs, NY. In 1991 he finally began playing music from the IFD repertoire as a member of the band Bobba Culpa. Surprisingly, he is not a founding member of the band that bears his name, but after joining the group he quickly caused so much mayhem that the band was retroactively dubbed Bobba Culpa (basically, “Bob’s fault”). Also an alumnus of The Hačeks, he learns many Balkan styles and instruments by annual attendance at the EEFC’s East Coast Balkan Music and Dance Camp. Bob also plays Early Music with the recorder consort Lycaeides. Bob has produced several CDs, including “Sundian subVersions: Far-Fetched Facsimiles oF Folkdance Favorites”, “Balkan Beat” by Planeta Synteza (rock music with Balkan rhythms), the modern folk-oriented “Past Becomes Present”, and two CDs by Bobba Culpa: “Culpability” and “Culpability 2: Bobba’s Revenge!”
Debby Szajnberg has been folk dancing since childhood and performing world dance and music since her early adult years, especially from Balkan and Eastern European folk traditions. These include dancing, singing, and playing with Balkanske Igre and International Dancers in Chicago, and George Tomov’s Yugoslav Ensemble in NYC. She also played and sang in A Different Village, Hijaz, and Yia Mas instrumental ensembles in Hartford, CT. She is a regular participant at the East European Folklife Center’s annual Balkan Music/Dance workshop as well as folk dance seminars abroad. A retired kindergarten and music teacher, she has presented national and regional workshops on creative and folk dance to music educators. She leads community dances at local schools and libraries and is a frequent teacher at Always on Sunday International Folk Dancers in Wethersfield, CT. She sings, plays violin, doumbek, tupan and other hand percussion. One of her current projects is collecting, transcribing and teaching children’s clapping and rhythm games from around the world.
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