Seth Rogovoy, author of The Essential Klezmer, calls Alicia Jo Rabins "a walking encyclopedia of fiddling traditions." She is one of a growing number of young musicians who, searching for an alternative to the overcommercialization of today's popular music, have returned to their roots: acoustic, raw, handmade music. Her fiddling draws from Appalachian traditions, klezmer music, Irish tunes, and more, combining a love of tradition with irreverence and humor.
Alicia's first violin lesson at age 3 led to years of classical study, followed by a few stints in punk-rock bands. She learned her first old-time fiddle tunes from a shipmate on board a schooner at sea, and learned more tunes from an Appalachian fiddler who was busking in a New York City subway station. Before long, Alicia was playing on the streets herself. One day in Baltimore, an old man handed her a manilla envelope of sheet music, saying, "You have the soul of a klezmer fiddler." Thus began her initiation into klezmer music, a hybrid of Jewish and gypsy musical traditions from Eastern Europe.
Another felicitious busking encounter led to the founding of cutting-edge folk group The Mammals, with Ruth Ungar, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, and Mike Merenda. After a year with the Mammals, Alicia joined forces with Michael Daves and Peter Siegel to form "new old-time" trio Underbelly, which the Berkshire Eagle called "a supergroup of New England talent." In winter 2004, Alicia joined the groundbreaking klezmer group Golem, which reinterprets traditional Gypsy and klezmer tunes with a punk-rock edge.