Originally self-taught, Issa has become a highly skilled and internationally recognized specialist in Middle Eastern, Arabic, and North African percussion. He has performed nationally and internationally at venues as noteworthy as the Kennedy Center , the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Library of Congress, and Carnegie Hall. Issa has recorded with artists including Grammy winning oud virtuoso Rahim Al-Haj, guitarist Peter Buck of R.E.M., and Eastern European, Balkan, and Turkish influenced 'A Hawk and a Hacksaw' among many more. He is frequently sought after due to the clarity, precision and complexity/simplicity of his drum work and rhythms.
Based out of his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Issa's passion for music continuously expands. Respectful and engaging, Issa is a natural teacher and has instructed and inspired all levels of drummers. He teaches workshops locally and has taught as a guest instructor at Yale and the Chicago School of Music.
Though his primary genre is Arabic/Middle Eastern percussion, Issa is knowledgeable in an array of percussion styles from around the world and is ever expanding in to new territory and understandings through both study and travel. He has recently turned his focus towards studying both Arabic Maqam and Indian Raag and applying that knowledge towards playing melodic instruments and incorporating disciplines from both regions.
Clara Byom is an Albuquerque-based multi-instrumentalist (clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, and accordion), musicologist, and educator. She performs contemporary classical music and a variety of folk dance music, including Jewish klezmer, contra, English Country, Balkan, Scottish, and Irish. Clara is a founding member of Di Kavene Kapelye, Edith Boulevard, Rusty Tap, The Parson Sisters, Odd Butterflies, drip project, and co-founder/co-director of New Mexico Contemporary Ensemble. Additionally, she performs regularly with Dust City Opera and serves on the board of the New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society.
A graduate of the University of New Mexico (Master of Music in Clarinet Performance and Musicology), Clara has researched mid-century American klezmer music for her master’s thesis entitled “Mixing in Too Much Jewish: American Klezmorim in New York City from 1950-1970.” She was a guest lecturer at KlezmerQuerque 2017, as well as College of Charleston (Spring 2017) and Eastern New Mexico University (Spring 2018), and has presented at conferences for the International Clarinet Association (Summer 2018), Society for Ethnomusicology (Spring 2017) and Yiddish Summer Weimar (Summer 2016). Since the Summer of 2014, she has done archival work for the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York City, primarily digitizing and cataloging the field recordings of 2015 National Heritage Fellow Michael Alpert, a leading figure in the klezmer revitalization. In 2012, Clara received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College in Decorah, IA.