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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

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Global Harmony

Gualala Arts Jazz & Global Harmony Series
Encouraging global harmony by sharing cultures through the arts

El Vucko's
75th Balkan Birthday Bash

Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
at the Gualala Arts Center
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El Vucko's 75th Balkan Birthday Bash, Saturday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m., will be a phenomenal evening of Russian, Gypsy and Slavic music in combination with American jazz. Delicious Eastern European pierogi, borscht and other traditional delicacies will be served in addition to the famous drink, the Moscow Mule.

The Gualala Arts Jazz Series and the Global Harmony Series proudly combine forces for this unique concert, in association with Fred Adler, KTDE 100.5 FM.

Heralded musicians, Yugoslavian born Larry Vuckovich, piano; Russia and New York's Ilya Lushtak, guitar; Russian / Greek Orthodox deacon, Nat Johnson, upright bass; and tenor sax man Francis Vanek, will perform ethnically rich and beloved instrumental pieces such as Dark Eyes (Ochi Chornaya), Belgrade Blues and Blue Bohemia. Special guest vocalist, Jeff Oster, one of Larry's favorites, will join the group for a brief interlude.

As an unusual birthday treat, Vuckovich will sing and play "Moonlight in Vermont," bassist Nat Johnson will sing and play his stellar version of "Sweet Lorraine" and Francis Vanek's horn will shine on "Body and Soul." Sterling guitarist Ilya Lushtak will sing a classic in his native Russian language. An updated version of Vuckovich's composition, "Adler's Allegro and Adagio," which originally premiered in 2010 at Gualala Arts Center, will be performed as a concert highlight.

Please join us for a warm birthday toast to the one and only El Vucko!

Larry Vuckovich

These are Larry's thoughts about this celebratory 75th Balkan birthday bash concert:

"All the various forms of music in the world have to be interpreted in an authentic way. If one is playing Mozart or Debussy, the feeling and the message of those composers has to be brought out. The same with jazz - whatever the style, it has to be played in an authentic way to be real. Jazz being the product of the African-American experience, has to be played with a soulful feeling obtaining the essence of the gospel and blues roots.

It seems that the various ethnic groups of the world - the ethnic minorities due to their suffering and life experience, have managed to project a depth of soul in their music. Fred Adler's concert theme of presenting Slavic / Russian / Balkan - Gypsy / Roma / Serbian folk elements fused with American jazz is a perfect example that the power and depth of jazz encompasses in unifying all those forms into a whole.

Ilya Lushtak's Russian / Yiddish ethnicity combined with Larry Vuckovich's Serbian / Eastern European background and bassist Nat Johnson's African-American heritage - plus his membership of Russian / Greek Orthodox religious faith (Nat is a deacon in Russian / Greek Orthodox church) - all those various ethnic elements contribute to a most interesting and soulful musical expression in jazz."

Ilya Lushtak  Nat Johnson  Francis Vanek

Advance tickets, which include concert and Eastern European delicacies, are $28 for adults, $14 for youth (7-17), $5 more on the day of the performance. For advance purchase, go to Brown Paper Tickets or call them at 800-838-3006. To purchase in person, visit the Gualala Arts Center or Dolphin Gallery in Gualala.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.