The Balkanics

The Balkanics  (2019 – 2021) play high-energy music from the Balkans (especially Macedonia). The music is energetic, infectious and very danceable. As well as traditional tunes, many of them Gypsy or Roma in origin, their original compositions are inspired by many years of studying, playing and living these most vibrant of musical cultures.  Featuring five accomplished musicians who have been playing together in different combinations for several decades, The Balkanics will intoxicate you, the hypnotic energy of their improvisations dragging you onto the dance floor.  Cast away your worldly woes and be transported to a universe inhabited by extravagant rhythmic variation and catchy melodic invention.

The Balkanics include Anthony Pizzica (rezouki, tambura), Linsey Pollak (sax, gaida, clarini), Philip Griffin (electric bass, tambura), Ric Halstead (sax, flute) & Tunji Beier (drums). Between them they have performed in many varied ensembles (The Unusual Suspects, Makedonski Bop, Xenos, Okuta Percussion, Ross Daly’s Australian Labyrinth), performed with many international artists (Jimmy Witherspoon, Red Rodney, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Mick Taylor, Billy Cobham, Nitin Sawhney, Pece Atanasovski) and at venues and festivals throughout the world (WOMADelaide; WOMAD NZ; St Chartier Festival, France; Perth, Melbourne, Sydney & Adelaide Arts Festivals; Vector Arena, Auckland; Barbican Centre, London; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Montreal Jazz Festival).


Listen on Bandcamp


Balkanics review – Sydney Morning Herald by John Shand 

“……..Among the plethora of bands playing Balkan and Gypsy music in Australia these days, one rarely encounters high-level musicianship so completely intertwined with sheer gusto as is the case with the Balkanics who, somewhat improbably, hail from the Sunshine Coast.

About 40 years ago, Linsey Pollak was in on the ground floor of extending the appeal and reach of Balkan music beyond Australia’s expat communities. Over the intervening years his career has been as eclectic as the instruments he plays, several of which are of his own devising. The Balkanics mark his return to an ensemble dedicated to Balkan music.

The band has a particular penchant for the music of Macedonia, the wonder being the degree to which they generate something of the primal force of a Balkan brass band with just five players. Part of the credit for that resides with Pollak, himself, who, primarily playing soprano saxophone, electrified the music with every entrance he made, such was his playing’s innate vibrancy.

But he has also surrounded himself with colleagues who broadly match his exuberance, leaving no sense of an idiom being painstakingly recreated so much as of them making this music their own, notably by emphasising the potential for jazzier and funkier iterations. Adding sonic colour to the visuals the five members played a dozen instruments between them (no doubt with many more in reserve). Pollak’s long-time collaborator Tunji Beier concentrated on drum-kit, Ric Halstead on tenor saxophone, Anthony Pizzica on a self-made resonator bouzouki he calls a rezouki , and Philip Griffin on bass (his lines helping define the band’s singular approach).”