L-R: Jody Levinson, Mike Gordon, Barbara Schreiber, Mary Turlington, Norma Huff and Susan Patterson in the spring of 1996. Jody and Mike now live in Seattle. Not pictured: Julie Turlington, who plays bass, and Simo Tesla, the band's new accordion player.
Our dubious history
Born in the fall of 1994, Ersatz Kolo had a big impact on the Balkan dance scene in Atlanta. The band grew out of monthly Balkan singing parties held at Mike and Jody's house near Chamblee, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Jody taught songs and, for fun, Mike began accompanying the singers on various instruments. Some of the local singers and dancers turned out to be pretty good musicians, so the singing parties began evolving into Balkan instrumental jam sessions as well. Before we were ready, we began playing live music for dancing in nearby Decatur, Ga.
For a year and a half Ersatz Kolo played for free most Saturday nights at the fabulous Beacon Hill Arts Center on We also played for New Year's Eve parties in 1994 and 1995 and appeared at Rang Tang, Atlanta's annual folk dance festival, in 1995 and 1996. Our first venture outside the ethnic scene, a gig at the Existentialist Coffeehouse in Decatur at the end of 1995 (with the fabulous DeDe Vogt, now playing with Cowboy Envy, running sound) went great, and Ersatz Kolo was poised for stardom, or at least a shot at an actual paying job. Then Mike got a job offer from Microsoft, and he and Jody moved to the Seattle area in the spring of 1996. The band's last gig together was at Rang Tang, Atlanta's annual folk dance festival, on Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, 1996 -- magic evenings that will long live in our hearts. We all miss each other very much.
However, soon after Mike and Jody left Atlanta, Serbian accordionist Simo Tesla joined the band, and Ersatz Kolo was back in business.
Now spanning the continent!
In Redmond, Mike and Jody started a new band, Balkanarama, and occasionally play on Friday nights for the University Folk Dancers in the Greenlake district not far from the University of Washington. If you feel like dropping by, there's dancing starting at 9 p.m. every Friday night (except on major holidays) at the VFW Hall, 7220 Woodlawn Ave. NE, just off Greenlake. $2 donation.