Michael Lawson grew up in a large extended family that featured song and dance at family gatherings. International folk dancing has been a large part of their family life. Michael began classical piano lessons at age 6 and trumpet at age 11. In high school, he played trumpet in a community jazz band. In college, he picked up his mother’s accordion and learned to play it for his folk dance club. He fell in love with the rhythms and harmonies of Balkan music, a genre he has played extensively over the last 40 years.
He directed the folk dance bands Nisava, Balkan Cabaret and Kafana Republik as an accordionist and vocalist, recording several CDs. He is always busy playing for folk dance parties, festivals, camps and weddings. Michael performed in the 2013 movie Tazi Baba (This Grandmother), which features Penka Encheva, a native Bulgarian singer. He arranged her songs for accordion and recorded them with her. In the summer of 2016, Michael accompanied the Bulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s Choir on a Bulgarian tour which included a spot on Bulgarian national TV.
Michael currently directs and accompanies the Bulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s choir. Osem i Devet is his current band, composed of accordion and tupan, with David Bilides. We invite singers and other musicians to join us, depending on the musical event.