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Band Bios

Beth Cohen - violin, mandolin, tenor banjo, and vocals, is well known as a vocalist, string musician and music teacher in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area. She has been running her own music studio in Albuquerque since 1983, where she teaches voice, guitar and violin to students of all ages. In 1991, Beth completed a Bachelor of Music degree in voice (performance track) from the University of New Mexico. Since 1995, she has been the musical director and Cantorial soloist at Congregation Nahalat Shalom where she also teaches their intergenerational Community Klezmer Band and Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes -- and CO-produces/coordinates the world renown Klezmer music and dance festival "Klezmerquerque".  Ms. Cohen is the violin/fiddle teacher at Santa Fe School for the Arts and she has taught band and orchestra in both public and private schools.  Beth began singing and accompanying her singing with the guitar when she was seven and was the recipient of many music awards and apprenticeships throughout her childhood. Growing up in a home where both parents spoke Yiddish, Beth learned to sing in Yiddish--although she has (regrettably!) never learned to speak this unique language. Since 1996, Beth has performed with bassist Barbara Friedman in Goddess of Arno Balkan dance band and from 1984 -1999 Beth was a member of Svirka women's Balkan chorus with whom she still performs as a guest artist. She also performs with the vocal trio Earth Angels and the instrumental folk trio Village Idioms. Beth has played in all kinds of ensembles including Celtic, classical, cowboy/western, blues, Reggae and Middle Eastern.

Debo Orlofsky - accordion and vocals. The Rebbe's Orkestra fabulous new member:  Debo (a.k.a. Debra Orlofsky)  has been singing in and around ABQ since the late 1980's.  Following a few stints in hippie-punk and goth-rock bands, Debo performed as the lead singer of Splinter Fish, a seminal alternative band on the ABQ music scene.  Well-known for her powerhouse vocals and presentation, inventive lyrics and percussion, and heart-grabbing harmonizing, Debo was invited to sing with Animal Opera, a local group of "all-stars" that rocked the NM desert with African dance music.   She was also part of the world beat rock band, Manna from Nowhere.  Debo sings and plays accordion and piano in the rockin' country blues band, Alpha Blue, that showcases her original songs. In her own Big Rock Studio, she engineered and mixed Alpha Blue's debut CD, "Agave Summer" - a spaghetti-western/middle-eastern folk-rock opera - which was released in the summer of 2004.

Debo studied classical piano as a child, picking up the accordion by accident just a few years ago.  Knowing how little respect the accordion has had in American pop music since the guitar assumed preeminence, she tried to put it down but found it was much too tightly strapped on.  After a few close encounters of the Klezmer kind, she found her way to The Rebbe's Orkestra and decided it was destiny.

Randy Edmunds - guitar, tambura and vocals, is one of the original members of The Rebbe's Orkestra. He is an experienced rhythm guitarist and provides a unique texture and fullness to the band's harmonic layer. Randy's use of the guitar as a melody instrument lends an unusual flavor to klezmer music, which is often associated with reed and brass instruments. He also plays the Macedonian tambura on several of the group's Sephardic pieces, and his lyric baritone voice adds another thread to the tapestry of sound woven by the band. He studied violin as a child in his home state of Louisiana and later picked up the guitar when he attended college in Texas. Randy's musical roots lie in the American genres of old-timey, gospel, bluegrass and country-western. He made the switch to 'country-eastern' when he discovered some Yiddish folk songs in a song book he was using and eventually expanded his repertoire to include Israeli, Greek, Rom (Gypsy), and Balkan folk songs. Randy has performed in a duo with wife Beth Cohen, as a guest artist with Svirka and Goddess of Arno, and as a member of Sandanski men's Balkan Chorus. He is the guitarist in the folk trio Village Idioms and he's a special guest artist in The Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer band. Randy also works full-time as a personal care attendant for disabled people.

Barbara Friedman - electric bass and vocals, provides the solid foundation for the band's rhythmic drive. For over 20 years she has been singing and playing music professionally as a member of Svirka women's Balkan Chorus, Goddess of Arno and other Middle Eastern and Balkan groups. An avid collector, student and performer of Eastern European music, Barbara regularly attends workshops and studies with the top musicians and ethnomusicologists from Europe and the USA.  In addition to adding rhythmic solidity to the band, her bass playing adds a nice melodic layer to their sound: Sometimes lending a tuba-like quality to the melody line. Barbara is also skilled on the Macedonian tambura which she plays on some of the band's Sephardic pieces. At Congregation Nahalat Shalom, Barbara performs in  Alavados-holy days band and she is a special guest member of the Community Klezband. During the day, she works fulltime as a public health nurse in Los Lunas, NM.

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb - percussion, vocals and storytelling, was one of the first ten women in the world to become a rabbi. She began serving in 1973 in N.Y.City where she served a deaf Jewish community. Rabbi Gottlieb founded Nahalat Shalom, Inheritance of Peace Congregation in Albuquerque in 1982. She tours throughout the U.S., and is well-known for her one-woman show of storytelling, chanting and drumming. Playing an eclectic variety of percussion instruments, Rabbi Gottlieb's skills on hand drums as well as the traditional klezmer snare drum/high-hat combo add a great dimension to the band's sound. Her powerful alto voice adds a special dynamic to her storytelling as well as to the vocals of the group. Rabbi Gottlieb has been studying the nearly lost art of Klezmer folkdance for several years and she has initiated the Klezmer dance revival in ABQ. Rabbi Gottlieb is also known for her peace and justice work as the co-founder of The Arab-Jewish Dialogue of New Mexico. She is the author of She Who Dwells Within - A feminist vision of renewed Judaism, and she is the creator and writer of the band's two musical theater-pieces: "The Dead Bride" and "Shlemiel Goes to Paradise."  Rabbi Gottlieb currently lives in the Los Angeles area and works as the director for Interfaith Peace camps.