Adriatic Braca Tamburitza Orchestra

Tamburitza, International , European, World, Mediteranean Music Band - Bufffalo, New York USA

Band  Bio

       The  band  formed in late 2000 with brothers Mike and Rudy Kristich,  Uncle Charlie Kristich, Steve Swagel, and Don Milosevich.    In  2002, Charlie Smilinich took over for Steve, and in 2007 Milo Wuslich joined  the group. The most  recent  new member, Mathew Vranjes, joined the group in 2011.

All members live in the Western New York region and have played together in various combinations  over  the past 40 years. The group has 2 members in the TAA Tambuitizan Hall of Fame - 1988 inductee Charlie Smilinich and 2012 inductee Charlie Kristich.

A special thanks to Mark Vranjes for the countless times he has filled in for us on bass (Balkan & non-Balkan gigs)......and also thanks to Bob Ranic, Ray Ranic, Mark Wuslich, Mike Swagel, Joe Novasel, Phil Leszak and  Kyle who have filled in at times.

    click......New link to more about the band and more mp3's:  

                             

          CURRENT  BAND MEMBERS

Mike Kristich - Bugaria  -  Rhythm

 The rhythm Bugaria player is the backbone of a tambura band, and Mike Kristich fills that roll effortlessly and with precision.

- Mike stated playing bugaria in 1969 (age 12) . His Uncle Charlie Kristich loaned him a bugaria (that was bigger than Mike) and was his first mentor, teaching Mike the basics of the “bug”. 

- A few years later, Mike  moved on to the mentoring of Charlie Smilinich where he learned all the techniques of the bugaria….all the different Croatian/Serbian tambura rhythms, Macedonian rhythms, and Charlie’s special American lounge music rhythms. He also learned all the intricate Smilinich chordings of songs…including splitting strings on the 3 tone Bugaria to achieve the diminished chords.

- Mike spent hours playing to the Balkan Serenader (Lackawanna) live recording at Stipanovich’s bar … learning every tambura and American song on the 3 tapes….learning to play each exactly like Charlie Smilinich. 

- Several  years later, accomplished on bugaria, Mike taught himself bass…and at 15 years old became the bass player for his Uncle Charlie’s tambura band (The Continentals, Buffalo NY).

- Along the way Mike added his own  American country/western/bluegrass and fifties rhythms.

- Mike and his brother Rudy (on brac) would play for hours together learning new songs. They formed 2 bands in the early years, the Tamburitza Trio, which became Suma….which won their 1972 high school talent show. In 1973, the band became  “Niagara”. This band had a good run from 1972 thru 1992…playing for Balkan events and many American events with their extensive American/International repertoire, much of which,  has carried over into Adriatic Braca’s repertoire.

- Mike has an extensive repertoire on the bugaria.. Tamburitza, American, and International music.

- Mike plays Bugaria, bass, cello, and a mean jazz prim.

Mike played in the following bands over the years.

- Recording Band accompanying Kosta Manojlovic Choir

- Tamburitzan Trio/Suma – 1970-1972

- Continentals (Buffalo, NY) – 1972-1975

- Niagara 1973-1992

- Adriatic  1996-2000

- Balkan Serenaders (Lackawanna)  2005-2008

- 2000-present - Adriatic Braca 

*1971-1972 Non-Balkan Group - Brothers & Sisters Christian Folk Group - Bass

Recordings/Performances

- 1975 Recorded 33 LP - Band accompanying Kosta Manojlovic Choir Lackawanna, NY   

- 2009 Recorded CD with Adriatic Braca 

- 21 TAA Extravaganza Performances (18 straight years + 2007 Halfway Extr + played in 2 bands one year)

 

Milo Wuslich -  Tamburitzan Cello

Milo grew up in the Pittsburgh, PA area until his mid 20’s when he married and moved to Buffalo, NY. Therefore, Milo has been influenced by both Pittsburgh and Buffalo Tamburasi in his life time. Milo stated playing tambura in 1966.

- Milo stated playing in 1966 and is self taught.

- Milo plays prim (1st, 2nd, and 3rd)  and cello.

-  Was a member of the University of Pittsburgh Men's Glee Club

   50 members

-  Was a member of Saint Nicholas Choir and Male chorus

    sang bass,  Monroeville, PA

- 1975- present member of Kosta Manojlovic Choir

    sings Bass and Tenor,  Lackawanna, NY

Milo played in the following bands over the years.

- Recording Band accompanying Kosta Manojlovic Choir

- 1966 member of T.O. Serbez of Pittsburgh, PA

- 2007-present  Adriatic Braca – plays cello and sings lead and harmony vocals

Recordings/Performances

- Recorded 33 LP with Serbez

- Recorded 33 LP #1 – Band accompanying the recording with Kosta Manojlovic Choir Lackawanna, NY  - 2nd Prim

- Recorded  2nd  33 LP - Band accompanying the recording with Kosta Manojlovic Choir Lackawanna, NY  - 2nd Prim

 -2007-2016  11 TAA Tamburitza Extravaganzas with Adriatic Braca (including the Cleveland Half-way)

 Rudy Kristich - Prim / Brac   Lead

 Rudy is the other half of the brother act…he played lead on brac while Mike played bugaria…great for practicing.

-Rudy started playing brac in 1969 at age 15, first under the tutelage of Uncle Charlie Kristich. Uncle Charlie mentored the new trio of Rudy, Mike, and Charlie Jr. on bass. And, Uncle Charlie gave them their first playing opportunities by letting the trio (with then Bert Remus on bass) play on his band’s breaks during dinner dances at the Buffalo Lodge 557 Croatian Club.

-Rudy also was with brother Mike when maestro Charlie Smilinich mentored the group in his basement. However, Rudy was not quite ready for the level of playing Charlie had to offer on his prim…so Rudy ended up connecting with George Medokovich (former Duquesne Tamburitzan) for technique lessons and song lead lessons…..many of the songs on the live recording of the Balkan Serenders playing at Stipanovich’s bar. Rudy also wore out those live recording tapes practicing and listening to them.

- As mentioned previously, Rudy and his brother Mike (on bugaria) would play for hours together learning new songs. Their band Suma was the unlikely winner of  the 1972 high school talent show – playing songs from around the world. In 1973, the band became  “Niagara”, adding Don Milosevich on bass in 1975. The band lasted until 1992, but Rudy, Mike, and Donny were reunited when Adriatic Braca formed in 2000.

- In later years, Charlie Smilinich mentored Rudy on lead.  And in recent years Charlie’s style and improvisation was captured on practice recordings.. and Rudy is still learning songs from these recordings to this day.

- Rudy has an extensive repertoire on prim and brac: Tamburitza, American, and International music.

- Rudy plays lead prim, brac 1st & 2nd , and bass.

Rudy played in the following  bands over the years.

- Recording Band accompanying Kosta Manojlovic Choir

- Tamburitzan Trio/Suma – 1970-1972

- Niagara 1973-1992

- Balkan Serenaders (Lackawanna)  1993-2001

- 2000-present - Adriatic Braca 

*1971-1972 Non-Balkan Group - Brothers & Sisters Christian Folk Group – Vocalist

*1971-1972 Tra-la-la – Fifties Group  - Vocalist

Recordings/Performances

- 1975 Recorded 33 LP - Band accompanying Kosta Manojlovic Choir Lackawanna, NY   

- 2009 Recorded CD with Adriatic Braca 

- 22 TAA Extravaganzas:    4 with Balkan Serenaders, 1-sub for “Adriatic”, 16-“Adriatic Braca” ,  plus Cleveland Half-way Extravaganza

 

Charlie Kristich - Brac  Lead

As of 2015 Charlie has  played in 18 Extravaganzas  including the 2007 Halfway Extravaganza

 

 

     

See above for bands played in over the years.

Recordings/Performances

- 1975 Recorded 33 LP - Recording on a Balkan festival 33 LP

- 2009 Recorded CD with Adriatic Braca   

- 19 TAA Extravaganzas:   3-“Adriatic”, 15-“Adriatic Braca” ,  plus Cleveland Half-way Extravaganza

Mathew Vranjes - Brac 2nd Harmony

Matthew is the most recent member to join Adriatic Braca. He is the son of bass player Mark Vranjes and like his father was highly immersed in his Balkan culture growing up. Matthew started playing in 2000 with the St. Stephen’s Tammies of Lackawanna, NY.  At 23 years old, he is the only available bachelor in the band.

- Matthew started playing brac in 2000 with the St. Stephen’s Tammies of Lackawanna, NY.

- Eventually switched to bugaria in theTammies

- Learned how to play bass and cello along the way.

- Member of St. Stephens Tammies Kolo Dance Group of Lackawanna, NY.

- 2006-present singing in Kosta Manojlovic Choir, Lackawanna, NY

Matthew played in the following bands over the years.

- 2008-present with Orkestar Slavlje  

- 2011-present  Adriatic Braca – 2nd brac, lead and harmony vocals

Recordings/Performances

-2010 Recording with Orkestar Slavlje   - Lead brac

-2011-2015:  5 TAA Tamburitza Extravaganzas with Adriatic Braca

 

Balkan Super  Fill-in - Mark Vrajes - Berda (Bass) and as-needed non-Balkan fill-in.

 

  

As you will see below Mark has been highly involved in many aspects of his Balkan culture.

- Mark started playing  brac in 1968 with the St. Stephens Tammies of Lackawanna, NY.

- He eventually moved to cello. He also plays brac and prim.

- Member of St. Stephens Tammies Kolo Dance Group of Lackawanna, NY.

- 1975-preseint Mark has been a member of Kosta Manojlovic Choir (Lackawanna, NY) 

- Mark was president of the St Stephens Tammies from 1992 to 2011

Mark played in the following  bands over the years.

- Recording Band accompanying Kosta Manojlovic Choir

- In 1977  he started playing bass with T.O.  Kumovi in 1977 

- 1988 - present plays bass with Orkestar Sokoli

- 2007 - started playing bass for Adriatic Braca  

Recordings/Special performance

- 33 LP recording - Band accompanying Kosta Manojlovic Choir – cello

- He made a 33 LP recording with T.O. Kumovi - bass

- Orkestar Sokoli Recording 1 - bass

- Orkestar Sokoli Recording 2 - bass

- Performed in the US, Canada, and Yugoslavia with Kosta Manojlovich Choir 

- 2007-2016 – 10  TAA Tamburitza Extravaganzas with Adriatic Braca (including the Cleveland Half-way)

Non-Balkan Gig Fill-in - Phl Leszak  - Bass

 

 

Former  Members

Sadly, on October 2nd 2013, our mentor, friend, and fellow band member Charlie Smilinich passed on. And on November 19, 2013 our friend, and fellow band member Donnie Milosevich passed on.  Their legacy lives on in our music...and we know they will be with us in spirit whenever we play.  Memory Eternal  !