Orkestar Bez Ime, meaning "orchestra without a name" in Bulgarian, met in the Ethnic Dance Theatre and has since grown to be one of the Midwest's hottest and most sought-after international dance bands specializing in Balkan music. Using a mix of folk and modern instruments--including accordion, clarinet, dumbek, flute, guitar, kaval, tambura, violin and voice--the group stays close to traditional Eastern Europe through its American melting-pot sensibility.
Comprised of alumni and members of Ethnic Dance Theatre (EDT), OBI focuses mainly on Balkan music, but presents the full range of international folk dance interests from Scandinavia to Israel to French Canada and beyond. Members include Dee Langley who has played accordion since age 4 squeezing all the way to play for the Dolina Folk Dancers (1989-1996) and Ethnic Dance Theatre (since 1998). Tim Wahl (kaval, tambura, kitchen sink) was a founding member of EDT 30 years ago. He likes nothing more than a set list which requires him to change instruments for each tune. Natalie Nowytski honed her vocal skills at her grandmother's knee and climbed her way onto the lap of Mila Vocal Ensemble, which she directed for five years. She has also performed as a percussionist since 2000. Katrina Mundinger has played clarinet for 25 years and folk music for 10. She was a member of Rakia and a leader of Boris & Natasha. In 2000, Colleen Bertsch bravely answered a panicked call from EDT for violinists. In the last 4 years she has weathered more than her fair share of odd meters and fast tunes, and brings a wonderful string sound to OBI.
Nice Driveway Volume 1: Cheers from the Land of the Freeze is the first installment of the three-part Nice Driveway series, offering a few twists on traditional folk music favorites from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Israel, Macedonia, Romania and Slovakia, plus two folk-inspired traditional pieces by OBI accordionist, Dee Langley.
“They've spent years studying and learning the intricacies of the music they perform. As a dance band they play to get people on their feet.”
-Minnesota Public Radio’s All Things Considered
“The band's rousing Balkan tunes, with an American flavor, are in high demand all over the Midwest-and the new CD [Nice Driveway Volume 1: Cheers from the Land of the Freeze] demonstrates why.”
-Mpls/St. Paul Magazine
“Euro music, but not stuck-up.”
“Orkestar Bez Ime claims to be from a made-up country called Rogaria (population: 5), but the members of this quintet are clearly citizens of the world. An out-growth of the Twin Cities-based Ethnic Dance Theatre, the Balkan-infected group--its name is Bulgarian for â€˜orchestra with no name’--combines a love of eastern European folk with a cross-pollinating American sensibility that encompasses Swedish, gypsy, Israeli, and Armenian tunes--and even a couple of Minnesota-centric polkas written by accordionist Dee Langley.”