Originally organized by clarinetist Richard Mermin (1938-1914) in the middle seventies, the Simcha Orchestra was one of the earliest of the groups involved in the West Coast revival of traditional Jewish music. The band has been on hiatus for the past several years but is now back in business with new and old personnel.
The members are:
Eliot Kenin | leader, vocalist, guitar, banjo, oud
Eliot was a founding member of the Simcha Orchestra and began his involvement with traditional Jewish music singing in a Yiddish chorus as a high school student in the fifties. He has been playing and singing Yiddish and Hebrew songs continuously since then and, in addition to his work with the Simcha Orchestra, was also one of Shlomo Carlebach's favorite accompanists.
Ray Lansburg | fiddle
Ray's exposure to traditional Jewish music began with the records his Yiddish speaking parents played. Since then he has been one of the Bay Area's best known fiddle players in old time American jazz, swing, and klezmer music.
Joe Sosensky | clarinet
Joe has been playing traditional jazz as well as klezmer with Eliot for over thirty years as part of the Spirit of '29 old time jazz band.
Rick Elmore | trombone and tuba
Rick was the tuba player with the Klezmorim, another of the earliest of the Jewish revival bands and plays regularly with several old time jazz bands.
Jim Millstead | percussion
Jim is a multi-instrumentalist who is expert at Middle Eastern rhythms.