Posted by Leonard Plodzien on the East European Folklife Center (EEFC) website

Have you had one of those times where everything goes just right, recently? This weekend, I went to my first Tamburitza Extravaganza. People who have been going every year for quite a while kept telling me how much fun it was. I'm sorry that I didn't listen to them and go before now.

It was held at the Mariott Hotel at the Los Angeles Airport. So here I am, walking into the lobby and I hear this wonderful tamburitza music, and there are people singing and dancing while the band is playing. And there is this wonderful noise level, you know, the kind that is at the Slavic banquet at a festival, where everyone is just having a ball and everyone is just talking up a storm.

Well, the folks all told me that you can dance, sing, and listen till you drop, if you want to, at these Extravaganzas, and they were right. They had 25 bands. Can you imagine? Sort of like heaven on earth. Well, they have these 12 hospitality rooms, with a band in each. So you can have a choice of 12 bands at any one time. They provide you with schedules of which band is playing where and when, or you can just wander and pick the music that sounds the best to you.

So, what's a Tamburitza Band? Well, of course, there's all tamburitzas. But then there's all tamburitzas with a violin(s), all tamburitzas with an accordion(s), all tamburitzas with a clarinet/saxophone, tamburitzas with trumpet, accordion, bass, tamburitzas with accordions, keyboard, drum. I probably missed a few, but you get the idea. On the 2nd and 3rd days of the Extravaganza, they have a concert. They divide the bands between the days so you can listen to the music and associate it with the bands.

And the music is fantastic. Everything from traditional to Slavic pop-rock and Slavic country-folk or is it folk-country? Some of these bands have been together for 35 years. Some of these musicians have been playing for 50 years. And not only do you have 25 bands, but they're from all over the country... Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Arizona, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo ... so I wonder, is the music regional as well as the differences between individual bands? I don't know, I'm not qualified that way.

And the dancing, the people just go wild, screaming while doing their favorites, it really energizes you. They really love their U Sest, Cacak, Racenica, Dui Dui, Sa, Syrto. Some Veliko, Dajcovo, Triti Pati, Pajdusko, Seljancica, Serbianka.

Next year it's in Detroit. I highly recommend it (and you bet, I'm going).