Sunday, May 13, 2007

Visiting a Judaica store

There isn't a decent Judaica store near where I live, and while I'm sure there must be one in the Detroit suburbs I haven't found it yet. (I've only been to one and wasn't impressed enough to go back). The end result is I tend to go to one in upstate New York when I visit my in-laws. It's not fabulous, but it's friendly and decently stocked.

Mandy Patinkin's MamaloshenSo, there I was in the New York store today and I struck up a conversation with a nice lady who was listening to the Mandy Patinkin's Mamalosehn album. My wife was quick to (proudly) point out to the lady and the store clerks that I wrote a Jewish music blog. I was a bit embarrassed and changed the subject pretty quickly. The lady and my wife and I spent the next few minutes happily trying to remember whether the Mandy Patinkin of the album was also the Mandy Patinkin who starred in Elmo in Grouchland.

Mandy Patinkin in 'Elmo in Grouchland'

We couldn't figure it out at the time but now, with the resources of the internet at hand, I can confirm that it is true. In addition to singing Yiddish classics like "Rabbi Elimeylekh" and "Rasins and Almonds,"Patinkin will always be known in our house as the greedy fink who sings "Make It Mine" (a disturbingly authentic take on 2 year olds) and argues with Elmo about whether Elmo's blanket should be called a "wubby." Unfortunately, the Elmo in Grouchland soundtrack doesn't include Patinkin's masterpiece, so we'll have to settle for "Rabbi Elimeylekh."

David and the High Spirit's The Real Complete Jewish Wedding PartyThe other entertaining conversation I had at the store was about the artist David Yakobian, aka "David and The High Spirit." I had run into Yakobian's prodigious output on eMusic last week but, other than being stunned, hadn't gotten my head around it. Why stunned? According to Marisa Brown of the All Music Guide (as quoted by eMusic),

"Led by David Yakobian, David & the High Spirit have released over 40 albums -- ranging from instrumental pop to Latin to big band to religious -- since their debut, To Life-Le Chaim! Authentic Jewish Party Music, came out in 1992. As evidenced by their name, the main focus of the band is on traditional and contemporary Jewish music, including 1997's The Real Complete Passover, which has Rabbi Cantor Baruch Colon narrating 35 songs and blessings of the Haggadah over David & the High Spirit's music."
David Yakobian's 'Joy of Coffeebreak'What Brown doesn't mention is that Yakobian's output, in addition to "The Real Complete Jewish Wedding Party," "The Real Complete Bar/Bat Mitzvah Party," and "The Real Complete Shabbat" also includes "A Tribute to Cat Lovers," "The Joy of the CoffeeBreak," and "Eurotica Nonstop instrumental sensuous european mega love songs. All you need for an intimate party."

Now, I want to apologize right away to Yakobian and to anyone who thinks I'm about to violate Lashon Ha-Ra. I really don't mean to be critical. There are albums that I've loved that were probably loved by about 10 other people on the planet and I'm sure that each of Yakobian's recordings have found devoted fans. But seeing "A Tribute to Cat Lovers" and "The Complete Shabbat" put out by the same musician just made me say, "huh?"

Anyway, back to the Judaica shop. It turns out that the shop I visited had a number of Yakobian's recordings and said that they were relatively popular (they only carried the Jewish ones). The "Wedding Party" and "Bar/Bat Mitzvah Party" sold well to folks that were planning such parties and wanted to supply their DJ with some uptempo Jewish music to add to the mix. They also said that Yakobian was a nice and courteous guy who called them regularly to make sure that they didn't run short on his albums and that he even had a nice fax form for them to fill out. They appreciated that and said that they often listen to the dics in the store.

I've now listened to a couple dozen song clips from a variety of Yakobian's albums and have to say, they are what they promise to be: a party on a disc. While I'd always recommend hiring a real Jewish band over handing a DJ a CD, if someone wanted to hire the DJ then these poppy, synthy, and complete upbeat recordings might be the right choice. I've been to a lot of simcha's that would have been improved by them.

And, at least three upstate New York Judica store clerks agree.

1 comment:

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