'We should be called She'Goyokh'

BUSKING on the streets for London-based klezmer band She'Koyokh has paid off.

The eight-member band has spent more than a decade absorbing the sounds of the rich folk music of Jewish eastern Europe - but none of them are actually Jewish.

Clarinettist and founder Susi Evans, explained: "We all fell in love with the strong melodies and striking sounds of klezmer music in our own way.

"The group always joke that we should be called She'Goyokh.

"My dad is Buddhist and my mum is Quaker, so I was raised far from the Jewish religion.

"I didn't know much about Jews until I started playing klezmer."

She added: "My knowledge of Judaism has grown since the band began playing at Jewish weddings and learning about where the music fits in with the traditions at Jewish weddings."

The 33-year old studied at the Royal Institute of Music and, during a year abroad in Hungary, discovered klezmer.

"I thought the sound was perfectly formed, beautiful and easy to get into," she said.

"After I first heard klezmer, I made sure I was involved with it, performing in klezmer festivals and being taught by klezmer tutors from all around the world."

In 2000, Susi met accordion player Jim Marcovitch and they formed She'Koyokh.

The group, which included a couple of other musicians, started busking on the streets of London and performing gigs, but people were confused by their style of music.

"When we started busking 14 years ago, people would come up to us to say they enjoyed the music, but had never heard of it before," Susi said.

"People's knowledge of klezmer has become more known in the last decade."

Tragedy struck in 2008 when 34-year-old Jim died from cancer.

Susi recalled: "This was a big deal for the band, but we became more like a family. We were never in it to make a living; we are in it to play."

The band also includes lead vocalist, Istanbul-born Cigdem Aslam, violinist Meg Hamilton, Serbian accordionist Zivorad Nikolic, guitarist Matt Bacon, German bassist and vocalist Paul Tkachenko, percussionist Christina Borgestierna and San Franciscan mandolinist Ben Samuels.

Susi said: "All the band members bring something different to the sound.

"We all have diverse influences and backgrounds, but everyone has added something each of them wanted to bring to the band.

She continued: "We definitely have an upbeat and fun vibe to our music and at our shows.

"We love it when the audience dance.

"The audience can really feel the music and we want to make sure emotions are reflective."

She'Koyokh was given a Millennium Award from the Jewish Music Institute and then worked their way up , performing at festivals in Amsterdam and Munich, and being on BBC television and radio.

She'Koyokh released their third album in March this year, entitled Wild Goats and Unmarried Women, it followed previous CDs Buskers Ballroom and Sandanski's Chicken.

Susi described the latest album as having a mixed sound, with songs in many languages, including Turkish, Kurdish, Greek and Yiddish.

"We have a Yiddish song on the CD called De'silosos, which means the philosopher," she said.

"It is a song about today's society having a question, whether to go to the rabbi or philosopher for advice.

"But I guess today everyone would just use Google."

The band will be performing at Manchester's acclaimed Band on the Wall venue on October 23.

"We have not played in Manchester for a long time, though we hear the klezmer scene in university is strong," Susi said.

"Our concerts are for any age. We hope people learn about their origins from our concerts and have a fun time dancing and listening to the klezmer."

Tickets are available from 0161-834 1786 or and visit

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