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Melissa Kacalanos

Doumbek and Writing

Melissa grew up in New York City, listening to her father’s doumbek playing for Balkan folk dance and belly dance groups. She later studied Middle Eastern percussion and explored various folk traditions and instruments, particularly hurdy-gurdy, which can play both melody and percussion. 

She has performed in contra dance bands, belly dance bands, international folk dance bands, klezmer bands, Greek traditional music bands, and early music ensembles. She was part of the orchestra in Mother Courage, starring Meryl Streep, at the Delacorte Theater. The Village Voice declared her the Best Hurdy-Gurdy Busker in NYC. 

She now lives in Decatur, where she enjoys being part of the local music community. She plays for contra dances in her contra band, D/S/M, plays traditional Celtic and folk music in the Marlay House house band, and plays avant-garde improvisations with Alchemical String Theory. She also teaches doumbek and bodhran classes to adults at the Frank Hamilton School.

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