Since 2006, Ishtar has been Pittsburgh's Vintage Bellydance Band. Ishtar is comprised of Melissa Murphey on clarinet, Jeff Chmielarski on electric bass, Michael Vicaro on riq (Middle Eastern tambourine). Special guest on darbuka: Owen Dougan-Bascha. 

Playing their own unique interpretation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean folk melodies, Ishtar performs songs that were popular in the bellydancing nightclub scene during the mid-20th century. This exceptional fusion of traditional songs with dynamic elements has become: BellyRock. In 2008, Ishtar was voted as Pittsburgh's Best Underground Band by the readers of the City Paper!

The band has performed at several local Pittsburgh locations: The Warhol Museum, The Brillobox, Club Café, Zenith, The Sphinx Cafe, Backstage Bar, Khalil's, Shadow Lounge, The Altar Bar, Your Inner Vagabond, The 31st Street Pub, Howler's Coyote Cafe, Gooski's, Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, The Thunderbird Cafe, Modern Formations Gallery, Istanbul Grille and Mr Small's Theater. Ishtar has played for events in Morgantown WV, Akron OH, Charleston SC, Baltimore MD, Philadelphia PA, New York City NY Harrisburg PA, Ossining, NY, New Paltz, NY, Richmond VA, Athens GA, Greenbelt MD, Cincinnatti OH, Charlotte NC, Ocean City MD, Istanbul Turkey and New Orleans LA.

Every year since 2007, Ishtar has performed to record breaking crowds at the Washington DC Turkish Festival. Ishtar was the featured performing group at the Pittsburgh Turkish American Student Association dinner for Turkish Republic Day. In 2013, Ishtar was the most liked band at the Turkish Cultural Day festival held at Grand Central Station in New York City.

Ishtar has had the distinction of sharing the stage with Ana-Vey, Bellyqueen, Agnes Wired For Sound, Mandrake Project, PhatManDee, Polka Freakout, Guy Klucevsek & Alan Bern, Shtreiml, Tipton's Sax Quartet, Keshvar Project, Black Bear Combo and Raquy & the Cavemen.

Ishtar has had the honor of playing for the world renowned dancers: Artemis Mourat, Ashara, Tamalyn Dallal, Sherena, and Jill Parker. From 2011 - 2015, Ishtar was the house band for the bellydance event Art of the Belly held every March in Ocean City MD. 

Members of Ishtar teach workshops and play music around the United States. Ishtar is available to play for any event as well as specific dancer performances. For more information or to book Ishtar, please email

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