Mariam Diakité
Lead Vocals / Dance / Percussion
Ms. Diakité is a Malian dancer, teacher, singer, and an all-around extremely versatile artist. Uniquely interested in mining the depths of Mali’s cultural heritage, she is extremely in-demand within the Bamako (Capital of Mali) music scene for weddings, baptisms, and has been a member of an established and respected dance troupe in Bamako for a number of years. She has traveled several times to Tambacounda Senegal to teach workshops for visiting dance students. Known as one of the hardest-working and professionally-minded artists in the country, she has also extensively toured within Mali and throughout West Africa representing the unique style of Malian dance. Her expertise and willingness to go deep into the mine of Mali’s folklore singularly qualify her for the lead role in Orchestra Gold.
Luke Baće
Bass / Percussion
Born, raised, and schooled on the east coast, Luke now resides in Berkeley, California where he performs, records, and teaches music for a living. Luke has played in many bands over the years ranging in style from alt country to jazz to free-form experimental music. Luke has been listening to music from Africa since he was an early teen. Inspired by the complexity, beauty, and groove of West African percussion, Nigerian Afrobeat, Shona Mbira music, Central African Pygmy music, Ethiopian funk and jazz, and most recently Tuareg music, Luke has an affinity for many kinds of music from Africa. While studying at Sarah Lawrence College, Luke took ethnomusicology and spent a semester focusing on West African rhythm and sensibility. He also did an independent project on Shona Mbira music. While at Sarah Lawrence Luke played multiple instruments in the African Percussion Ensemble. Besides recording and producing his own music under the moniker LakeCube, Luke produces and plays with Firemaid and plays bass, guitar, keys, and effects in recording sessions and live with a number of Bay Area groups.
Erich Huffaker
A multi-instrumentalist, Mr. Huffaker has studied Bambara music for the last 12 years, primarily in Bamako and Ségou. Fluent in Bambara and French, he has studied and lived extensively in Mali during that time, learning guitar, djembe, and dunun. Living in Bamako, Mali from 2005-2008, his main djembe teachers have been Matché Kassim Traore and Idrissa Kone. He has also studied Bambara guitar music with Mohammed “Medecin” Diawara, in the ancient Bambara capital city of Ségou, Mali. Also a member of another nationally touring band (La Misa Negra), he has travelled/toured across the United States over the last three years. He weaves the tapestry of these various experiences into the fabric of Orchestra Gold’s music.
Jesse Servin
Djembe / Percussion
Hailing from the exotic and mysterious land of Stockton, California, Jesse has spent over 15 years under the direct tutelage of the acclaimed djembe master, Abdoulaye Diakite. Over the years, Jesse has cultivated a deep connection with Tambacounda, Senegal, the native home of his teacher. In addition to being a staple of the Tambacounda community, Jesse has been integrally involved in the development of Abdoulaye’s land into a sustainable, energy-efficient community center for the arts. Stateside, Jesse has taught numerous classes at Ashkenaz, BrasArte, organized workshops, and sponsored artists. He is largely recognized as a foundational pillar of the West African drum and dance community in the Bay Area. He taps into this profound and prolific djembe experience for the listeners of Orchestra Gold.
Raffi Garabedian
Baritone Sax / Brass Section Lead
Raffi Garabedian hails from Berkeley, California, and attended Berkeley High School, where he was a member of their award-winning Jazz Ensemble. As a teenager, Garabedian studied with Dayna Stephens, who was one of his first major influencers on saxophone. He went on to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music from 2006-2010, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Raffi has recorded, studied and performed with Jorge Rossy, Ben Street, Dayna Stephens, Bill McHenry, Chris Cheek, Tony Malaby, and Andrew Cyrille. He helped found the brass band Brass Magic, and plays with the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra in San Francisco. He brings his prolific knowledge of jazz improvisation and theory to the horn arrangements of Orchestra Gold.
Aaron Kierbel
Drum set
Aaron Kierbel has been proudly teaching drumming and rhythm classes for the distinguished non-profit ORG Leap Arts in Education since 2013. He has a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from C.I.I.S in San Francisco. He also works for Destiny Arts and Performing Arts Workshop, and in 2017 launched his own interactive group drumming and rhythm organization called Rhythm.ALL.ogy, focusing on using group drumming to build community and promote social justice, and self-empowerment. As an ongoing volunteer with Bread and Roses, he conducts drum programs with inmates at SF Women's Jail, Alameda Juvenile Justice Center, Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, Edgewood Center for Children and Families and many more. He continues to be inspired by the brilliance, vulnerability and humor of the youth he teaches. They inform his own artistic process, constantly reminding him to have a beginner's mind, to experiment and most of all, to never forget to PLAY.