Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Los Angles Klezmer Wedding Bands

One of my brothers is getting married in the spring in LA (Yay!). We're all quite thrilled. He and his fiancée are thinking about booking a klezmer band and they gave me ring the other night hoping I might help the find the right folks. I sure hope I can, because my wife and I had the most amazing klezmer wedding band in the world (The Wholesale Klezmer Band) for our wedding and they absolutely made the night. (Unfortunately, the WKB is based in New England, which is pretty darn far from LA)

One of things that makes looking for a klezmer wedding band tricky is that not all klezmer bands want to or know how to play weddings. And by this I don't mean that the good klezmer band doesn't know how to show up, play a set at the reception and then scram. For me there are two big questions (other than can they play), can they lead dancing and do they understand / can they participate in the traditional Jewish ceremony. These are both big deals. If you grew up in the Conservative movement like I did, it's pretty likely that the closest thing to Jewish dancing most of your family has done was watch Fiddler on the Roof ten years ago. Having someone show basic dance steps helps folks stop thinking about their feet and just enjoy the dancing. Being able to show more than one dance (or throw in a showy little bottle dance) helps keep things interesting and everyone engaged.

Understanding the wedding process is important too. There are a lot of wonderful Jewish wedding traditions that get overlooked at most liberal Jewish weddings but are easy and rewarding to include and demand musical accompaniment / leadership. This includes the Khosns Tish, Groom's Party, and Kale Bazetsn, Seating of the Bride, as well as including a Badkhones, Wedding Jester, to amuse the bride, saterize the groom and generally cause trouble/joy. (See the Wholesale Klezmer Band's 'Guide To Jewish Weddings' for more info).

For me, finding out if the band can lead the dancing and can support the traditional Jewish wedding process is much more important than finding out whether they can slip a few swing tunes into the mix. That's what makes looking for a band hard. Most bands websites don't say whether they really want and can handle weddings. So it takes time to feel them out.

Here's the list of LA area bands I came up with for my brother and his fiancée, in more or less my priority order based on their websites (not factoring in $$, which I don't have yet). I'll be helping him vet the bands and will probably keep everyone posted on how it goes. If anyone knows a good klezmer wedding band that would play in the LA area that I didn't list, please let me know.

Ventura Klezmer BandVentura Klezmer Band: http://www.venturaklezmerband.com/ - Sounds excellent, does weddings, dance leading - yes, traditional ceremony - don't know. Lots of testimonials on the web page. A great sign.

Hollywood Kelzmer Band - http://www.hollywoodklezmer.com/ Sounds excellent, does weddings, don't know about dance leading or traditional ceremony

Klezmer Juice - http://www.klezmerjuice.com/ Sounds excellent, but don't know if they do weddings (extra points for being the wedding band in the movie "Wedding Crashers" UPDATE: Gustavo Bulgach from Klezmer Juice wants everyone to know that they definitely play weddings. 'we DO weddings... actually, WE did produce an play @ the Jewish wedding scene for the movie WEDDING CRASHERS... need more credentials?" Nope. Sounds great to me.

Extreme Klezmer - http://www.extremeklezmer.com/home.html - Sounds excellent, but don't know if they do weddings

Golden State Klezmer - http://www.goldenstateklezmers.com - Sounds excellent, but don't know if they do weddings

Dave Winstone - http://davewinstone.com/Klezmer.htm Does weddings, but isn't as klezmer focused as I'd like and doesn't provide sound samples on the website.

Ellis Island Band - http://www.ellisislandband.com/ No sound samples, don't know if they do weddings)

The Klezmer Boys - http://www.myspace.com/KlezmerBoys They'll do weddings, but the sound samples are pretty mediocre. (That's just my impression / taste. To me they sound like a classic cheesy wedding band, which I don't like. But that might be exactly what someone else is looking for. So they're on the list)

UPDATE: Keith and DrumSteve from the South Coast Simcha Band want everyone to know that they play weddings in the LA area and "perform a lively brand of East Coast style of Yiddish and Klezmer music ...with Jazz, Swing, Classic Rock, and Pop tunes for all of your guests to enjoy" Sorry for missing you, guys. My goof. You should add the term "Los Angeles" to your web page and make it easy for us 'googlers' to find you.

6 comments:

Keith said...

Jack,
I hope that my group, South Coast Simcha Band, would be considered for any Los Angeles area weddings. Please take a look here:

http://www.scsimchaband.com/
http://www.myspace.com/southcoastsimchaband

Thanks!

Keith Wolzinger
http://klezmerpodcast.com/
http://www.myspace.com/klezmerpodcast

Jack said...

Keith. Thanks for the note. I didn't realize you were in the LA area. Of course I'll pass your info on to my brother.

Just a thought for you, though. The reason I didn't find your band for my search is that the only place on your web site that says where you're based is a .pdf file that lists "Huntington Beach, CA." Google doesn't find the CA and I was searching for LA, not CA generally. You might consider adding your location and the primary markets you'd play in to your home page. It would help search engines. Also, your site doesn't specifically say you play weddings (though you do mention private parties). As I noted in my post, for me the question about dancing leading and knowledge of wedding traditions is a big deal. A note about that would help a lot.

drumsetsteve said...

The South Coast Simcha Band performs a lively brand of East Coast style of Yiddish and Klezmer
music. Perfect for your Wedding or any other special events.
They are your complete source for fine live
entertainment, with Jazz, Swing,
Classic Rock, and Pop tunes for
all of your guests to enjoy.
Search for the South Coast Simcha
Band on You Tube, and visit their
web site. www.scsimchaband.com

Anonymous said...

Jack,
This is GUSTAVO BULGACH from Klezmer Juice... we DO weddings... actually, WE did produce an play @ the Jewish wedding scene for the movie WEDDING CRASHERS... need more credentials?

We DO what others dream of doing...

Thanks

www.myspace.com/klezmerjuicebandh

Jack said...

Keith, Steve, Gustavo...Thanks for the corrections. I just updated my post with your information.

Anonymous said...

Jack,

Golden State Klezmers DO play Weddings,
Bar / Bat mitzvahs & ALL Jewish events.
For more info & sound samples go to:

MySpace.com/GoldenStateKlezmers

Thanks