Rakiya is a Boston-based Balkan folk rock band that blends Rom (Gypsy) songs and dance tunes with modern rock influences. Their unique sound is a fusion of traditional melodies, energetic rhythms, and catchy hooks that will get you on your feet. Rakiya's live shows are a must-see experience that will transport you to a different world of music and culture.
Dean Brown has been playing Balkan music for longer then he likes to admit. It was his idea (ahem - "artistic vision") to start Rakiya, so he got stuck doing the work to make it happen. Now he gets to play with great musicians, which keeps him happy and out of trouble. Dean also plays with the bands Cambridge Folk Orchestra, Zdravets, Balkan Fields, Far and Wide, Sladka, and Shining Moon.
Surrounded by music and musicians since early childhood, Colin became immersed in the international folk music scene in 1991 when he joined the Mandala Folk Dance Ensemble Orchestra. Since then he has played in a large number of international recreational folk dance bands in the Boston area. Recordings on which he appears include From Our Garden (with Zdravets), Rags to Racenicas (with the Flying Tomatoes), and Passport to the World of Music and Dance (with the Bicoastal Band). Colin plays accordion, keyboard, and dumbek with Rakiya. He is also a member of Boston-based band Shining Moon.
Heather Lee began playing and singing Balkan music with the Mandala Folk Dance Ensemble. Since then, she has performed with several Boston area bands including Sladka, Divi Zheni, Shining Moon, and The Goats. She studied voice with internationally acclaimed singer Tatiana Sarbinska. Heather also plays guitar and Bulgarian tambura.
By day, Heather teaches at an independent school in Cambridge MA.
Marnen has been playing music for country dances since the age of eleven. As a member of The Flying Romanos, he has toured in England, Canada, and Japan, and has also played for dances throughout the United States with other bands including The Moving Violations and Squeezology. Outside the country dance world, Marnen plays music ranging from Javanese gamelan to opera. He has appeared on stages across Europe with guitar virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore as a member of the Renaissance-folk-rock band Blackmore’s Night, and frequently plays for musical theater and ballet throughout the Northeast and elsewhere.
Marnen is also active as a composer, with a special interest in chamber and vocal works; his compositions are available at http://www.marnen.org/composition.html.
Tim McNerney took up bass guitar shortly after he got his degree in Music and Computer Science from Union College a gazillion years ago. He has played with Rakiya for over 20 years, where he has never skipped an odd beat. Tim has a masters degree in Media Arts and Science from MIT. By day he helps airplanes find a good parking place.
Grant Smith is involved in many world music, jazz, classical, and dance projects in Boston and New York. His theatre credits include the American Repertory's "The King Stag", and "Shlemiel The First", as well as Joel Grey's "Borscht Capades". He is also a contributor to Trish Cibree's "Lounge Life". Mr. Smith has toured globally from Crakow to Thailand and New Zealand. He has performed with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Don Byron, the Violent Femmes, Garrison Keillor, and Jane Wang.
Photo credit: Primo Artists