Photo © Fletcher Oakes. Click images for higher-resolution version.

Red Hot Chachkas 2013 = Barb, Breck, Julie, Aharon, Tony, Diana

Julie Egger (Violin, Dance Leader, Band Manager)

...has played the violin since the age of seven. As a teenager, she performed with the Long Island Youth Orchestra, which traveled all over the world playing music. She received a Bachelor of Music in Education from Crane School of Music, where she studied with the Carnegie String Quartet and Ruth Iogha. Julie lived for nine years in Boston, where she performed classical, jazz, and liturgical music. She has performed with master artists such as Stuart Brotman and Joshua Horowitz, and was a co-founder of KlezCalifornia.  She founded and performs with the Red Hot Chachkas, as well as The Convergents, teaches Klezmer music as well as classical and jazz to students of all ages, conducts workshops in Klezmer music, and freelances in the Bay Area.  She lives in West Marin.

Barbara Speed (Clarinet, Sax, Flute)

...started on piano, her father's instrument, when she was nine. Flute soon followed, and she studied classical and baroque flute in New York and London through her twenties. In 1979, Barbara moved to Berkeley, took up saxophone with Kurt Bradford (former lead alto with Jimmy Lunceford). Barbara's fascination with that era of jazz led her to the clarinet, which she studied with Jim Russell. A gig playing a swing suite with the Westwind International Folk Ensemble led to participation in a klezmer suite (with Tony, who later recruited Barbara to the Red Hot Chachkas). She also plays in soul-R'n'B band Juke Joint and pianist Stuart Rabinowitsh's jazz quartet Scirocco. She teaches clarinet, sax, and flute privately; contact Speed[at]

Her husband, Fletcher Oakes, a professional artist and photographer, took most of the photos here.

Tony Phillips (Mandolin)

...starting playing a mandolin that was a law school graduation gift from his parents, to their subsequent and lasting regret. He now also plays octave mandolin, mandolin-banjo, electric mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and whatever other stringed instruments he can buy, borrow, or steal. He has played in several bluegrass bands, and performed oldtime, contradance, Cajun, jazz and swing, and other traditional American music with the Jubilee American Dance Theatre. He formed and leads the Instant Klezmer Mandolin Orchestra, and is involved behind-the-scenes in the Jewish Music Festival, KlezCalifornia, and San Francisco Festival of the Mandolins. He can be also heard playing fiddle tunes irregularly with The Probabillies

Breck Diebel (Bass)

...holds a MA degree from San Francisco State University, BM from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and is a credentialed music teacher. He grew up playing guitar, and has been playing bass since 1980. He plays standup bass and electric bass guitar, and has performed within a wide range of musical genres, including jazz, salsa, Cuban son, folk, rock, and Andean and Latin American folk. Breck has taught bass at Blue Bear School of American Music in San Francisco. Breck also plays with Barb in pianist Stuart Rabinowitsh's jazz quartet Scirocco.

Diana Strong (Accordion)

... began studying piano at age seven, and throughout young adulthood avidly practiced classical repertoire and informally composed. At the same time, she grew up surrounded with traditional folk music from all over the world, especially Balkan music, because of her family's connection to a vibrant music community and yearly music camps. In 2006 she discovered the accordion, and hasn't put it down since!  Diana plays a wide range of styles including Klezmer, Balkan, Brazilian choro, Scandinavian, French musette, waltzes, swing, plus a growing repertoire of originals. She was a founding member of Babes in the Woods, plays with cellist Myra Joy as Sweet Moments of Confusion, performs with singer-songwriter (and cousin) Juliet Strong, played with Moh Alileche, and appeared in the 2009 and 2013 Accordion Babes Pinup Calendar and CDs. Diana also teaches at Zambaleta community world music and dance school, and private lessons.  Diana[at]


Aharon Wheels Bolsta (Drums)

...joined the Chachkas in June 2012. The rhythms of India combine with jazz and funk, West African poly-rhythm, Balkan meters, and various Middle Eastern rhythmic traditions in his drumming, whether the instrument be the drum set, the Indian tabla, Egyptian dumbek, framedrum, shakers, Malian calebasse, vocal percussion or any of the vessels on his multifarious palette of percussive sounds. He has studied with masters of percussion from all over the world, and has played many kinds of music with many bands.


See more photos in Gallery.

To suit a particular occasion, we may include former band members, other musicians, singer, or dance teacher.