What is a Kugelplex?
Kugelplex is the West Coast's rockin’-est purveyor of klezmer and old-world music. Formed in 2001, the group plays wild, soulful dance music at concerts, festivals and jewish lifecycle events throughout the United States. We’ve performed with Joan Baez, the Oakland Symphony, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and Frank London, Linda Tillery, Jewlia Eisenberg, Nils Frykdahl, Kitka, Rumen Shopov, and other greats.
Kugelplex has received awards from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and has been klezmer-band-in-residence with the Oakland Symphony for over a decade.
The ensemble features an all-star cast of Bay Area virtuoso musicians. Everyone in the ensemble tours internationally, performs/records with a wide range of bands, and then comes together as Kugelplex to play this music that we so deeply love. It is our mission to keep this old-world klezmer tradition thriving into the 21st century and beyond...
Jason Ditzian (clarinet/Manager) is a wind instrumentalist who has composed and performed numerous works for dance, movie and theater. He has been manager of Kugelplex for over 15 years. When he's not playing klezmer, Jason performs and records with many Bay Area ensembles, including Charming Hostess and inkBoat. He is the Managing Director of Dohee Lee Puri Arts.
Dan Cantrell (accordion/piano/saw/vocals/Musical Director) has been focused on the study of folk and popular music from Eastern Europe, as well as composing for film dance, and theatre. He has composed music for over thirty films, several plays, a variety of dance pieces and other eclectic performance events, winning an Emmy. Dan’s extensive group of collaborators includes recording with Tom Waits, touring with Joanna Newsom and guesting with the San Francisco Symphony. For three years he composed and recorded the soundtrack for Cartoon Network’s Misadventures of Flapjack. Learn more about Dan's work here.
Lila Sklar (violin/vocals) became fascinated with the music of the Middle East and the Balkans in her early 20s and participated in a nationwide tour playing Turkish Sufi music with vocalist Latif Bolat. In addition to recording on many film and television productions, Lila has toured and performed extensively throughout the US, Japan, Europe, and the Middle East playing with such groups as Beats Antique, Bauhaus, Joanna Newsom, Rosin Coven, Bjork, The Quarta Dolce Quartet, Beulah, Gypsy Caravan, Sherefe, The Toids, and members of Cirque Du Soleil. Currently Lila lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and earns her living teaching, recording, touring, and performing. More about Lila here.
Michael Pinkham (percussion) Michael Pinkham has been a working bay area drummer since the early 90's (1st gig @ Berkeley Square yo!). He has played, recorded and toured nationally and internationally with many artists including: Peter Rowan's Big Twang Theory, Matt Montgomery & the Petty Troubles Orchestra, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, Samba do Coracao, Diego's Umbrella, Albino!, New Monsoon and the Circus Bella All-Star Band. He can be found rocking out with Physical Suicide Deterrent System Project, This Old Earthquake, the Lost at Home Drumline and of course; Kugelplex.
Max Baloian (guitar/sound tech) was a founder and composer in the legendary chamber music ensemble, Nano Operetta. These days, he lends his multi-string stylings to bands such as Lord Loves a Workingman, Rube Waddell, and Polkacide.
Eric Perney (upright bass) is a virtuosic player of many styles of upright bassness. Eric studied classical and jazz bass at the University of Michigan with Stuart Sankey and Rodney Whitaker. Eric is a founding member of the bands Transmission and Gojogo. He plays with many Bay Area bands and can be heard on Tom Waits’ “Alice”, “Orphans” and the soundtracks to “Shrek 2” and “La Tigre e la Neve”.
Jewlia Eisenberg (lay cantor/vocals) is our occasional guest vocalist. She is an internationally-renowned old-world diva, renegade radical feminist jewish scholar, and leader of Charming Hostess. Her band, Book of J, a collaboration with guitar savant, Jeremiah Lockwood, is awesome and you should check them out. More about Jewlia here.
Steve Haimovitz is the wonderful photographer who took all the urban landscape images of the band featured on this website and oftentimes in the programs of our various performances. Check out more of his work here.