Gary Cohen is a World Folk Music Artist with an extensive and diverse repertoire. He fronts Kouskous and contributes his Middle Eastern influenced guitar stylings and vocal inflections in addition to his lead on the doumbek (Middle Eastern Hand Drum).
Gary grew up hearing his mother singing songs from her homeland in Eastern Europe. His interest in odd metered rhythms and exotic beats was born out of his participation in International Folk Dancing.
Gary began his musical career over 30 years ago as a solo performer in Montreal. He moved to Victoria and with his friend Moshe Denburg he co-created the band Tzimmes.
When Moshe moved to Vancouver, Gary joined the Greek band Keffi collaborating with Pat Lawson and Jake Galbraith
Because his knowledge is so vast, Gary has played in ensembles that cross musical genres from Klezmer to Balkan and Middle-Eastern.
Gary collaborates with his partner, Amber Woods in creating unique interpretations and arrangements of traditional folk songs, and original drum routines for Kouskous. Currently he’s also active member of World Music Trio Fetacompli which has a strong repertoire in Greek Music.
In addition to his band involvement, Gary is an experienced teacher. He’s been teaching drumming classes and workshops with his partner as well as co-creating drumming pieces for and with belly dancers, and co-teaching drumming/dancing workshops. He has also received a TESL certificate and has taught ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. Gary also teaches private guitar lessons to both children and adults.
Besides music and teaching, Gary is also a Tour Guide. His fondness for Victoria is reflected in the personalized tours that Gary offers both in English and French. Gary has lots of ideas for great customized tour, contact for more information.
Amber Woods provides the exotic beat for Fetacompli and Kouskous. She plays the doumbek (Middle Eastern Hand Drum), the riq (Middle Eastern tambourine), and def (Middle-Eastern frame drum) and sometimes sings. She and her partner Gary Cohen collaborate in all aspects related to Kouskous from the administration through the music. The seeds for Amber’s interest in drumming were planted as a teenager while Folk Dancing, and sprouted in 2002 when she started learning Belly Dancing. Amber is grateful to Michael Beach www.baladi.com who first introduced her to playing the doumbek, for his teaching style, his encouragement, and for the foundation he gave in Middle Eastern Rhythms both for the doumbek and for the riq.
Cooking is Amber’s other major interest. She has honed her skills and deepening her knowledge of cooking having been a long time cooking class assistant to Chef Heidi Fink. Chef Heidi’s recipes are among the best in Amber’s repertoire!
Amber also enjoys writing.