About the Group

Dave & the Dalmatians are:

  • Layne Benofsky - First Tenor
  • Dave Clelland - First Tenor
  • Frederick Graves - Second Tenor/Baritone
  • David Howell - Baritone
  • Greg Posick - Bass
  • Sean Roulette-Miller - Second Tenor
  • Peter Sakurai - Baritone

We are seven guys who love to sing a cappella songs, mostly from the Balkan countries. A few of us have been singing together for twenty years. The rest joined a bit later. We come from various musical backgrounds (classical, folk and jazz ensembles, church choirs, musical theater, etc.), and most of us regularly perform with other groups.

Our first love, and still our specialty, is klapa singing from Croatia's Dalmatian coast (where the spotted dogs got their name, too), one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world. Klapa simply means group, and the songs are arranged for at least four singers - first and second tenors, baritone and bass. Originally, the harmony parts were improvised. Rumors abound that drinking was involved. Today, klapa songs are pretty much all arranged, sometimes intricately. But get a group of klapaphiles around a table with a few bottles of red wine, and new harmonies can still spontaneously erupt.

Klapa songs reflect Dalmatia's natural beauty, evoking the sea and sun. The sweet melodies and lush harmonies have universal appeal. Most people are smitten on first hearing. The tunes are always in major keys regardless of their subject. The subjects range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but most often involve love and life on the coast. Klapa can make heartbreak sound sweet, and breaking up not so hard to do.

Klapa singing remains popular in Croatia and in the émigré Croatian communities. Traditionally sung by men, today, there are mixed-voice and all-women klapas. The annual festival in Omiš (Omeesh) attracts hundreds of klapas from the Dalmatian coast and around the world. We hope to represent Seattle at the festival in the not too distant future.

After cutting our teeth on klapa, we went exploring farther afield. A balanced musical diet does need more than sweets. Our repertory now includes songs from other regions of Croatia as well as Bulgaria, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, Russia and occasionally, Western Europe. Even though men's choral singing is much less common than women's in the Balkans (guys just aren't as mysterious), we manage to sniff out plenty of good tunes and timeless melodies that benefit from male voices.

We have performed around Washington State on our own (Northwest Folklife Festival since 1996, Croatia Fest, Lift Every Voice at Town Hall Seattle, Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Contest, etc.) and with other groups (Radost Folk Ensemble, Dunava women's choir, etc.). We will happily sing for any occasion. We'll even sing for food and drink. (We have serenaded delighted diners at local Seattle restaurants.) If you'd like to know more about our music and us, come hear us. We're friendly, housebroken and hardly shed at all.

We'd like to thank the many people who have sung with us, inspired us, and helped us learn this music and better understand the culture it comes from, especially Joško Ćaleta, Patty Cuyler, Mark Forry, Mary Sherhart, John Morovich, Maria Grgurevich, Penny Orloff, Olga Sukhover and Margaret McKibben. Thanks also to former Dalmatians Jeff Chang, Dale Cummings, Mike De Luca, Tom Deering, Ron Fissell, Andrew Howell (the master designer of our web site), Chris Hansen-Murray, Rick Jones, Steve Lane, and Fred Stahl.