the BAND


Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour is an adaptable group.  We can play as a duo up to a full nine-piece klezmer orchestra.

Klezmers & Muzikantn:

Samantha Goldberg – Flute, Xylophone.  Samantha Goldberg, wandering Jewsician is passionate about spreading Yiddish music to all corners of the earth, and bringing together players to help her on this mission.  As a multi-instrumentalist, her choice to play flute in this ensemble is to honor the early days of klezmer and bring back the haunting sound of the pipes and the hopeful sounds of nature.  Samantha creates live music multi-media presentations on Jewish culture, traditions and history, leads educational programs and directs community bands in the Klezmer style.   She has worked with the Lanier middle school band and the Austin klezmer bund.

Dylan M. Blackthorn – Accordion, Vocals, Misc. Foley. Dylan M. Blackthorn is a singer/songwriter & accordion-based composer.  Traditional Yiddish music and culture is an interest he has studied since 2005, traveling the world with Samantha Goldberg.  Dylan also plays with Goblinfolk ensemble THAT Damned Band, 999 EYES Freakshow & Surreal Sideshow, Gary Lindsey & the Pleasure Tide, and is a part-time goblin in thee Hobo Gobbelins.

Professor David Gilden – Trumpet.  The “Prof.” is a very busy player, and has been part of many bands and music projects in the Austin music scene including Wino Vino, Huerte Culture, and the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble of Austin Texas.  He teaches the “Psychology of Music” class at UT Austin.

Ethan A. Smith – Fidl, Piano.  Ethan has a strong background as a Texas Fiddler & Texas fiddle competition judge & teaches fiddle, violin, piano, & music theory in central Texas.  Ethan has attended klezkamp and studied with Deborah Strauss and Cookie Siegelstien.

Tom Crail – Tuba, Bull Fiddle.  A versatile Bassist, specializing in Klezmer, Bop, and Jazz.  This UT Alumni has lead Longhorn ensembles for many graduations.  The eyes of Texas are upon us.  Tom plays with Scrappelli, Strawberry Piranhas, and many other groups.

Ben Saffer – Clainet.  Formerly of the Rubinchicks, Ben Saffer has a strong background in klezmer music & trad. jazz.  He also plays Banjo with THAT Damned Band, saxophone & clarinet with a variety of jazz projects, including the Minor Mishap Marching Band.

David Ansel – Tsimbal.  The famous Soup Peddler, former worship service music director for the South Austin Selah ensemble & is rumored to be the only professional Tsimbalist in central Texas.

Jennifer Marshall – Fiddle.  She sings through her bow and strings, tunes ancient and not-so-ancient, as well.  Her expressive stylings bring forth the Yiddishe neshome.  Jennifer has has attended klezkamp and studied with Deborah Strauss and Cookie Siegelstien.

Steven Polunsky – Poyg.   Popular in Austin bands, his boisterous klezmer drumming has been compared favorably to “a hound dog hitting its head against a wooden fence.”

Svetlana Saenger – Voice.  All the way from Belarus, comes the shimmering Svetlana.  A multi-lingual vocalist, singing in Belarussian, Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish, and English, who is known for her energetic and engaging presence on stage.

Special guests & former members:

Sherry Mayrent – Clarinet, Kronk (Sick) – Fidl, Guitar; Mark Rubin – Tuba, Tenor Guitar, Baritone; Mike Gray – Percussion, Go Box; Bruce Salmon – Guitar, Trombone; Rob Jewett – Bull Fiddle, Roy Coon – Clarinet.

RIP, Leah Morgan Durret – Trumpet.

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