Jul 072015
Feeling Through Sound: An Interview with Willo Sertain

Willo Sertain is the founder and accordionist of Macaulay Balkan, the latest addition to Portland’s Balkan music scene, which had been, according to one active member, in need of new blood. Having seen Macaulay Balkan’s first three shows, part of the monthly Balkan Night at Atlantis Lounge/Mississippi Pizza, I can attest not only that they’re coming into their own as a band but that they’re making a difference. I chatted with Willo about her fascination with Balkan music. American Robotnik: Where does your passion for Balkan music come from? […] Continue reading >

May 012013
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in May 2013

In Portland, Oregon, in May? Check out these wonderful Central/Eastern European events! All info comes from organizer’s website and is edited for clarity/length. Bulgaria: Horo Dancing with Portland’s Bulgarians, 5/3 Friday, May 3, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. Podkrepa Hall, 2116 North Killingsworth St, Portland, Oregon $5 suggested donation and finger-food potluck Come and join us for a fun night of dancing and learning. Poland: True Life Trio, 5/4 Saturday, May 4, 7:00 pm Polish Hall/St. Stanislaus Church, 3916 N. Interstate Ave., Portland, Oregon Tickets: $10 Band website and Facebook page […] Continue reading >

Feb 012013
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in February 2013

A nice plethora of Central European events this month. All information comes from event websites or organizers. Updated 2/6/2013. The Balkans: Krebsic Orkestar, 2/1 Friday, February 1, 8:00 p.m. doors and DJ, 9:00 p.m. concert Mississippi Pizza,  3552 N Mississippi Ave., Portland 1 for $7, 2 for $10; 21+ only The 14-piece gypsy brass band the Krebsic Orkestar teams up with DJ E3 for a night of music, dancing, pizza, and beer! Ajde!!! Czech Republic: Jan Švankmajer, Conspirator of Pleasure, 2/1-2/4 Various times from 2/1 to 2/4 – see […] Continue reading >

Oct 012012
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in October 2012

Just when you thought September was a busy month for Central European events comes a packed October. Enjoy these wonderful events! Event copy and images are from the local media and event organizers. As usual, the list will be updated as I learn of additional events. Czech/Slovak Republics: Hospoda, 10/2 Tuesday, September 2, 6:00 p.m.–close McTarnahans Taproom, 2730 NW 31st, Portland Free The monthly gathering of Portland’s Czech and Slovak community. Guests welcome. The Balkans: Kafana Klub, 10/2 Tuesday, October 2, 7:00 p.m. (7 p.m. dance lesson, 8 p.m. live […] Continue reading >

Aug 272012
Central European Events in Portland, Oregon, in September 2012

‘Tis the festival season! Plenty of Central European fun in and around Portland in the coming weeks, starting this Thursday, all the way through October. Event copy and images are from the local media and event organizers. Bulgaria: Angel Nazlamov & Daniela Ivanova-Nyberg, 8/30 Thursday, August 30, 7:30 p.m. Podkrepa Hall, 2116 North Killingsworth St., Portland, Oregon Suggested donation $8-$10 at the door A great warm-up for balkanalia 2012! In honor of our Thursday dances we are going to treat ourselves with live music by special guest, accordion player Angel Nazlamov from […] Continue reading >

Aug 172012
Music from the Heart: An Interview with Maria Noel

Maria Noel is a singer with two of Portland’s Balkan bands: Krebsic Orkestar and Kafana Klub. As I explore what compels natural-born Americans play foreign, particularly Balkan, music, I was curious to learn more about Maria’s experience. She chatted with me on a hot July afternoon. American Robotnik: How did you get into Balkan music? Maria Noel: I’ve always had an interest in folk music but for a long time I lacked focus. I guess I just needed to meet the right people. In around 1993 I met Dennis […] Continue reading >

Jul 272012
Americans vs Balkan Brass: An Interview with Alex Krebs

Alex Krebs is the founder of Krebsic Orkestar, a Portland, Oregon-based Balkan brass band, where he plays the saxophone. Dubbed by Oregon Music News as “Oregon’s tango king”, he teaches tango, fronts the Alex Krebs Tango Quartet, and in August he will back up on bandoneon “the Frank Sinatra of tango” Alberto Podestá at a festival in Baltimore. He has a double major in physics and music from Reed College. He shared with me his passion for Balkan brass music at his Tango Berretin studio in Southeast Portland. American […] Continue reading >

Jun 212012

For one more day you can support the effort of Portland’s and Poland’s own Ashia Grzesik to raise money for the recording of her debut album with Ashia & The Bison Rouge. The project’s “meat and potatoes” in Ashia’s own words (edited for length/clarity by American Robotnik; details are at Kickstarter): As a child of Polish immigrants growing up on the West Coast of the United States, I was raised in two cultures, and my music and art is an extension of that upbringing. This will be an album of […] Continue reading >

Jun 012012
Upcoming Central European Events in Portland, Oregon

Music Kafana Klub When: Tuesday, June 5, 8-10 p.m. Where: Al Forno Ferruzza Pizzeria What: Kafana Klub’s monthly performance of Balkan music (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Bosnian, etc.) How much: $3 suggested donation 3 Leg Torso with Klezmocracy and Krebsic Orkestar When: Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 8 p.m. Where: Dante’s What: “3 Leg Torso goes all out for a wild evening sharing the stage with Klezmocracy and the Krebsic Orkestar. This is a show you’ll need to prepare for and do your warm ups. Hai-yah!” (courtesy of 3 Leg […] Continue reading >

May 252012
Celebrating Alphabet Creators and Faith Bringers

Yesterday, May 24th, was Saints Cyril and Methodius Day, an important holiday for Bulgarians and Macedonians, commemorating the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet and generally their culture.* Members of the Podkrepa Bulgarian and Macedonian Association celebrated the big holiday at the Podkrepa Hall in North Portland with a potluck and folk-dancing party. I learned about the event from the Northwest Balkan Events Google Group, where Kathy Fors, a member of both Kafana Klub and Krebsic Orkestar, posted the announcement. I showed up right at 7, and the Bulgarians made me feel […] Continue reading >

May 052012
Portland, Central Europe

Central Europe came to Portland, Oregon, last week. In the span of five days, from Friday, April 27th, to Tuesday, May Day, I experienced at least 7 Central European countries and Russia without leaving the East Side of town. Who said there’s only one America? Stop 1: Serbia, Bosnia, and Thereabouts at Mississippi Pizza The Krebsic Orkestar is a 14-piece local brass band that plays about a gig a month at various venues around town. I don’t know much more about The Krebsic Orkestar,* other than it is the brainchild […] Continue reading >

Apr 052012
I Dream of Places Far From Here

“Immigrant” by Nitin Sawhney, from the 1999 album Beyond Skin You burn my flame within your hands You know when my destiny falls This time has insecurity I feel, makes me restless inside Will you take me there To a distant place I’ve never been before I could leave this world I could follow you like oceans to the shore You could take me there Make the rivers of my mind flow to my dreams You hold your secrets from my eyes You see where the furthest rain falls The […] Continue reading >

Feb 092012
You Must Go and Be Yourself: An Interview With Alina Simone

When I read "You Must Go and Win," I knew I not only had to review it on account of its subject matter’s relevance to American Robotnik, but also try to interview the author Alina Simone. We talked yesterday via Gmail Chat about Russia and Russianness, about music and writing, and about doing your own thing. The first question was hers, about my experience reading her memoir: "Are you scarred?" American Robotnik: In your New York Times T Style interview, you talk about growing up as an American kid and, later, […] Continue reading >

Feb 012012
Ghymes and Družina: How Music Creates a Sense of Home

One of my fondest memories of Bratislava, where I went to college in the mid-1990’s, is joining my friend Zuzana at the Hungarian Cultural Institute for monthly concerts of Ghymes, a Hungarian folk band from southern Slovakia. The concerts contributed to my sense of Bratislava as a place in Europe’s center. Peoples and cultures have mingled for centuries in the area where the Danube and Morava rivers as well as the contemporary countries of Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia meet. Heard at the foot of the Carpathian Mountain Range, Ghymes reminded us that the vastness of the […] Continue reading >