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About Fishtank Ensemble

The LA Weekly calls them “cross pollinated gypsy music….one of the most thrilling young acts on the planet.” Formed in 2005 and playing everywhere from the hippest LA clubs to festivals, cultural centers, museums, parades, and even on the street, the gypsy jazz band includes two explosive violins, the world’s best slap bass player, musical saw, flamenco and gypsy jazz guitar, opera, jazz and gypsy vocals, and one little banjolele. Tackling everything from French hot jazz to wild Serbian and Transylvanian gypsy anthems, Flamenco, and oddball originals, the band is a not to be missed event for world music lovers…and everyone will love this intoxicating mix of music!!

The dynamic, virtuosic, fiery and peripatetic quartet that comprises Fishtank Ensemble take their roots both from their own varied musical and national backgrounds, as well as from their adventures and travels. The singer Ursula sang opera on the streets and town squares of Italy, until she found a love of gypsy music…their French violinist voyaged around all of Europe in a handmade mule-drawn caravan for ten years, collecting music and experiences.  Their Serbian bass player has spent time playing with gypsies as well as some of the rock and roll’s legends, and aptly defends his reputation as the best slap bass player in the world… and the guitarist is a master of flamenco and gypsy jazz guitar who honed his craft in the gypsy caves of Granada, Spain… Whatever wild time you can expect from this band, it will never match their out of this world performance!!!

 “It’s not uncommon for the world’s folk music to be branded as rudimentary, simple or inferior to the higher-brow and heavily trained classical traditions. But, a little digging will no doubt prove this idea to be patently, almost criminally false. The four-piece, L.A.-based Fishtank Ensemble are modern ambassadors of many of the world’s folk sounds and even a peripheral listen to their music displays not only the deeply ingrained traditions of Serbian, Romanian, flamenco, gypsy, opera and Transylvanian music — among many other styles — but also the unbelievable skill and precision that goes into its performance.”

The Band Members

ursula knudson

Ursula Knudson (Saw, Voice, and Violin)

Ursula is an accomplished vocalist from Sacramento, CA, whose years of classical vocal training were finally put to an unusual use. After years on other career paths, she finally found her calling with Fishtank Ensemble and was inspired by this ensemble to learn one of her most admirable talents: the musical saw.

Fabrice Martinez (Violin and Violintromba)

Fabrice began his musical journey at the age of eighteen, traveling all across Europe a few times over by hitchhiking with his various instruments in hand until at age twenty he decided to discover the weld a bit slower by embarking on a 7 year odyssey through western and Eastern Europe in a hand built, mule drawn caravan which took him from the south of France through Italy, Slovenia Hungary and finally Romania. For ten years he performed with his group Croque Mule throughout Europe as well as with Vinicio Capossella and various other Italian and American artists before forming Fishtank Ensemble in 2006.

Douglas “douje” Smolens (Guitar)

Douglas Smolens, knows by the stage name ‘Douje’, is an accomplished Flamenco and Gypsy jazz guitarist, producer and composer living in Los Angeles, CA. His debut album ‘Worlds Collide’ is a unique and bold mixture of traditional and modern styles, from ‘jondo’ flamenco to modern day world fusion/drum and bass/techno. When not on tour or otherwise making music, Douglas devotes his time to running Sound Colony Music, a boutique music publishing company that represents a hand-selected catalog of excellent independent artists working to get their music into movies, TV and advertising.

Djordje Stijepovic (Bass)

Djordje was a member of leading world music bands in Serbia like Shira Utfila (Sephardic), Kal (Balkan gypsy) and Marsya (Balkan). He finished classical music conservatory and department for jazz arrangement and bass. Djordje performs solo (world music/jazz), provides his signature slap for rockabilly band Atomic Sunset, Deke Dickerson, Slim Jim Phantom (from Stray Cats), Lemmy (from Motorhead) etc and plays with other bluegrass, cajun, jazz, blues and other type of bands.

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