Initially inspired by the family musical traditions of their father Bedros on clarinet and uncle Thomas on violin, the Vosbikian brothers, Sam, Mike and Joe, formed the original Vosbikian Band in Philadelphia in 1939. The first group consisted of band leader, Sam Vosbikian on clarinet, Mike Vosbikian on saxophone, Charles Mardigian on banjo, Peter Endrigian on dumbeg, and Joseph Vosbikian on drums. They played at all sorts of family gatherings and church functions around the Philadelphia area. Their first out-of-town appearance came in 1940 at Armenia Hall in Union City, New Jersey for an AYF Mid-Atlantic Jamboree. They went there representing the Philadelphia Chapter, and won. The original band played until the end of 1941 but because of the outbreak of World War II, they had to put everything on hold.
After serving in World War II, brothers Sam, Mike and Joe returned home in 1946 and a new group was formed. This new Vosbikian Band took up where the old group left off and the public was ready and waiting. It consisted of band leader, Sam Vosbikian - oud, Mike Vosbikian - saxophone and vocals, Jim Vosbikian - clarinet and vocals, Albert Santerian - dumbeg, and Joseph Vosbikian - dumbeg and vocals. From this time forward, the band kept gaining popularity. They had brought Armenian music to a level where all could understand and enjoy it. They had revitalized the old culture and new Armenian bands were springing up everywhere.
In 1948, Jirair Hovnanian joined the band as a vocalist and contributed many beautiful songs. In 1949, Steve Ajdaharian came on board as a pianist and vocalist and brought with him newer and fresher interpretations to many of the older numbers. In 1950, Steve "Cosmo" Terkanian joined the band playing a tambourine. Inspired and influenced by the big Jazz bands of the 1940's, the classic "Big Band" sound of the Vosbikians was still in the process of growth.
Between 1949 and 1951, the Vosbikian Band recorded eleven 78 rpm recordings, the first American Armenian band to do so. As to their popularity, all functions or social events at which they performed were overwhelmingly successful. They single-handedly revitalized the American Armenian social scene by bringing the youth to Armenian functions in record numbers. Armenian dances soon became a popular item in many communities. No matter what the occasion, when the Vosbikian Band started playing, the whole place came alive with their unique interpretative style of Armenian music. It was magical . . . men, women, young or old, it made no difference. When the Vosbikian Band played, all anxieties disappeared . . . all differences were forgotten. It was a phenomenon and a true renaissance was started in the Armenian community.
In 1955, the Vosbikian Band recorded their first LP album and again they were the first American Armenian band to do so. Mr. Vahaken Hovnanian added his vocal charm to this album. The band kept playing through the fifties and into the sixties at countless venues all across the East Coast and was aptly nick-named everywhere as "The Fabulous Vosbikian Band."
In 1963, the Vosbikian Juniors were born. Its members consisted of Sam Vosbikian, Jr - oud, Steve Vosbikian - clarinet, John Vosbikian - saxophone, Gregory Vosbikian - dumbeg, and Mike Vosbikian, Jr. - saxophone. The occasion was a dance at the old 16th and Oxford Sts. Saint Gregory’s Church Hall in Philadelphia. The Vosbikian Band was announced, the lights were dimmed, the music started, the curtains were drawn, and what the unsuspecting public in attendance saw instead of the regular seniors, was a group of young kids ranging in age from twelve to sixteen. They brought the house down.
The Vosbikian Juniors continued through the 1960's to perform at many Armenian youth functions, church affairs and weddings and made a mark of their own. Then, into the early 1970's, The Steve Vosbikian Ensemble was formed with lead solo-instrumentalists, Steve Vosbikian on clarinet, Gregory Vosbikian on oud, Sam Vosbikian, Jr. on dumbeg and Steve Hovnanian on dumbeg and vocals. The Steve Vosbikian Ensemble ventured into a new and expanded repertoire of Armenian music and later produced their own LP recording entitled "Armenian Reflections".
In 1975, under the leadership of Steve Vosbikian, the original Vosbikian Band and the Steve Vosbikian Ensemble joined together to release an LP entitled "Armenian Dance Favorites Volume 1". This record was made in a one-take single live recording session and remains a classic to this day. The album was followed by a series of subsequent releases that were originally released in cassette-tape format. The Vosbikian Band has recently remastered all of its previously released cassette recordings and along with its latest digital releases, is now offering a must-have 10 CD-Collection of Armenian Folk and Dance music. "Armenian Dance Favorites" Volumes 1 through 10, is now available for purchase for the first time ever.
As referenced in Wikipedia, the Vosbikian Band is famous for its unique brand of "Kef" style Armenian music. The 10 CD-Collection of "Armenian Dance Favorites" offers more than 120 classic Armenian folk and dance songs. Along with many original compositions, the Vosbikian Band's repertoire contains selections from a broad spectrum of Armenian folk and dance music, including those written by many legendary Armenian composers.
Among many unique features of the band, including the use and harmonic blending of the clarinet and saxophone, family hand-made steel drums, a pulsating up-beat tempo and a variety of great vocalists, the Vosbikian Band has become most notable for its legendary "Big Band" instrumental sound of Armenian music.
The Vosbikian Band is dedicated to promoting and cultivating Armenian music in the Armenian diaspora of the United States. Now celebrating its 69th year with fourth generation members joining in, the Vosbikian Band keeps true to its family-based tradition and is proud to offer an historic 10 CD-Collection of "Armenian Dance Favorites", Volumes 1 through 10, spanning more than 32 years in the making.
We hope that you may experience and enjoy the sensational music of the Vosbikian Band for your listening and dancing pleasure and share the great joy of Armenian music with your family and friends.
THE VOSBIKIAN BAND
In 1975, the original Vosbikian Band combined talents with The Steve Vosbikian Ensemble and released the first volume of "Armenian Dance Favorites." The group consisting of two generations was as follows:
The Original Vosbikian Band
Sam Vosbikian, Sr., Leader - Oud & Mandolin
Mike Vosbikian - Saxophone & Vocals
Jim Vosbikian - Clarinet & Vocals
Joe Vosbikian - Dumbeg & Vocals
Albert Santerian - Dumbeg
The Steve Vosbikian Ensemble
Steve Vosbikian, Leader - Clarinet & Saxophone
Gregory Vosbikian - Oud
Mike Vosbikian, Jr. - Saxophone
Sam Vosbikian, Jr. - Dumbeg
Skippy Krepelka - Guitar & Keyboard
Steve Hovnanian - Dumbeg & Vocals
Past band members and guest performers of the Vosbikian Band include: Charles Mardigian, Peter Endrigian, Jirair Hovnanian, Steve Ajdaharian, Steve "Cosmo" Terkanian, Vahaken Hovnanian, Glen Der Hagopian, John Vosbikian, John Mukalian, Setrak Ejdaharian, Kenny Gureghian, Karnig Mukalian, Ralph Arpagian, Jack Zarzatian, John Chirstoris, Joseph Garabedian, Chris Marashlian, Christopher Vosbikian, Steve Vosbikian, Jr., Peter Hovnanian, Karine Hovnanian, Roger Krikorian, Adiss Harmandian & Levon Katerjian
The Vosbikian Band has released a 10 CD-Collection of "Armenian Dance Favorites" Volumes 1 - 10 now available for purchase. Printable order forms can be downloaded from this website.