Balkan Bob brings Budapest Café Orchestra's sound of Eastern Europe to Barton's Ropewalk
He is known as Balkan Bob, but the voice on the phone sounds quintessentially English.
Then again, for the past 20 years or so, Chris Garrick has been immersed in the music of Eastern Europe.
This acclaimed violinist, a member of the Budapest Café Orchestra, has been helping to bring the sounds of folk and Gypsy music to the masses.
From their London base, the band has toured across Britain – featuring the traditional music of countries including Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary in their repertoire.
Chris said: "It was a bunch of English musicians, who, having heard the music of Eastern Europe, decided to recreate it with their own arrangements.
"We decided it would be fun to put a band together that played the music – and make it interesting for the crowd.
"But as we always tell them, we're not from Hungary, we're from Harringay."
Chris grew up in a musical household – his dad was a jazz pianist, his mum a classical singer.
He went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music, and became, at the time, the only violinist to have specialised in jazz.
Twenty years on, as a teacher at the Royal Academy and The Royal College Of Music, he is tutoring two violin students in jazz.
"It has taken a whole generation for it to happen again," said Chris. "It is what you would call an extreme niche."
The Budapest Café Orchestra was formed in the mid-1990s and, after a hiatus during the early noughties, was reformed in 2009.
Chris said: "There is a unifying quality to all of the music – it is all folk-based and community- based. It is something England does not really have anymore.
"It is music from the people, the sort of things you will hear at parties or on the streets."
Their performances include chatting with the audience and anecdotes about the instruments.
Chris said: "It is taking these traditions on a natural evolution.
"We are doing something to keep it alive. It is the sort of music which is very immediate, it makes you smile or cry."
They also put Eastern European arrangements onto well-known songs.
"We'd done Born Free with a Gypsy beat," said Chris.
• Budapest Café Orchestra play Barton Ropewalk's Ropery Hall on Friday, February 1, at 8pm.