Now it's time for Episode 2: The Story Show. In this episode I've rounded up a great array of Jewish story songs sung in English, everything from Yiddish novelty songs to brand new Indie Pop with stories ranging from the Torah to Chelm to New York. Check it out.
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Update: Sorry, I goofed. The iTunes subscription button wasn't working, but now it is.
Here's Episode 2's playlist. Please support the great musicians showcased on the podcast. Check out their websites. Go see them in concert. Buy a disc. Send them some email.
David Griffin's Hebrew School - "Irma Take Off Your Coat" Unreleased recording.
"Hebrew School is an innovative use of the genres of Indie rock and experimental music to mitigate, through recording and performance, the disaffection of Jewish life in a large urban center... This project is supported by a grant from the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, a partnership of Avoda Arts, JDub Records, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and made possible with major funding from UJA-Federation of New York."`
And yeah, one aspect of Griffin's indie-pop sensibilities is that he uses his vocals as much for mood and tone as for meaning...which is a really polite way of saying I really wish he'd bring the vocals up in the mix so that we could hear the lyrics better. But he's promised to share the lyrics with us and I'll update this page with a link to them as soon as I get 'em. Griffin's hard at work on a full album of Hebrew School songs and has started to play them live. His website has details on his shows and I'm sure he'll drop me a line when the album is ready.
Update: Griffin came through with the lyric sheet, you can find it on his lyrics page. I love the phrase "the radio plays kenny rogers it becomes part of the songs we sings, along with the song about the almond and the carob tree." My dad was a big Rogers fan. Get me and my brothers together for more than 10 minutes and you'll be treated (or subjected?) to us singing The Gambler and Lucielle.
Dean Friedman - "Ariel" from his first album "Dean Friedman"
Note: Friedman's website says that the "Dean Friedman" album isn't available but it ain't so. I had no problem downloading it from Emusic.com and it appears to be available for download from Amazon.
"In the summer of 1977, Dean Friedman marked his entry into pop consciousness with the enormous success of his infectious hit single Ariel, a quirkily irresistible and uncategorizable pop song about a free spirited, music loving, vegetarian Jewish girl in a peasant blouse who lived, as the lyric goes, "...way on the other side of the Hudson."
Shelly Hirsch - "544 Hemlock Street" from "O Little Town of East New York"
"Shelley Hirsch is a marvelous performer with remarkable vocal talents, charm and a wicked sense of humor. She is one of the best-known improvisers of the Downtown New York City scene, performing with virtually every major experimental artist in New York and Europe, but has thus far released only two albums of her own music (both released only in Europe).
An award-winning radio play and Hirsch's most ambitious work, O Little Town Of East New York is a semi-autobiographical musical suite about growing up in Brooklyn in the '50s and '60s - reenactments and reminiscences of childhood, family, rites of passage, the ethnic melting pot, Johnny Mathis... It's a hilarious, nostalgic, touching and stunningly original album merging avant and pop sensibilities."
You can pick up Hirsch's album through the Tzadik Radical Jewish Culture website or Amazon digital download.
Pharaoh's Daughter - "Daddy's Pockets" from the album Daddy's Pockets
"Blending a psychedelic sensibility and a pan-Mediterranean sensuality, Basya Schechter leads her band, Pharaoh's Daughter, through swirling Hasidic chants, Mizrachi and Sephardi folk-rock, and spiritual stylings filtered through percussion, flute, strings and electronica.Her sound has been cultivated by her Hasidic music background and a series of trips to the Middle East, Africa, Israel, Egypt, Central Africa, Turkey, Kurdistan and Greece."
You can pickup "Daddy's Pockets" from CD Baby or iTunes.
Avi Kunstler - Shalom Aleichem from the album Eyes on Jerusalem
Avi Kunstler is a musician, songwriter, and father of current Jewish music performer Aryeh Kunstler. His wonderful "Eyes on Jerusalem" isn't available through JewishJukebox, MostlyMusic, Hatikvah or any of the other usual suspects (Eichler's has Avi's most recent album, "In this place of mercy"), but Avi still has some copies that he'd be happy to sell to anyone interested. Email me and I can get you hooked up.
Dovid Kerner - The Ballad of Ruth and Naomi from the album Bond of Love
From the New Jersey News "Kerner, 49, became a ba’al teshuva about 25 years ago and told NJ Jewish News he used “my new lifestyle, new way of living, confronting the prayer book every day, just putting my experiences, thoughts, and feelings into music” as the impetus for his project. He teamed up with his brother, Steven, 53, at the latter’s recording studio in Manalapan to produce Bond.
Dovid Kerner said he enjoys creating “message music” to encourage people to think. Some of the most admired folk musicians have been his inspiration; the influence of Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and others are quite recognizable in his music. “Woody could sit down and write a song about anything and everything,” Kerner said. “The Book of Ruth has always spoken to me very strongly, and I patterned [‘The Ballad of Ruth and Naomi”] on Woody’s ballads.”You can out more about Kerner at his website and pick up his Bond of Love at iTunes.
Golem! - Warsaw is Khelm from the album Fresh off Boat
"Contrary to popular belief, Golem is neither a towering Jewish Frankenstein who defended the Jews of 17th Century Prague, nor a creature from “Lord of the Rings.” Golem is a 6 piece Eastern European folk-punk band.
Fronted by Annette Ezekiel Kogan - singer, accordionist, and 5-foot powerhouse; and vocalist, tambourine player, crazy-man Aaron Diskin; violin virtuoso Alicia Jo Rabins; trombonist extraordinaire Curtis Hasselbring; elegant upright bassist Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, and unstoppable drummer Tim Monaghan, Golem’s sound evokes wisps of old-world elegance filtered through the successes and disappointments of new-world dreams. Spending nights in Lower East Side immigrant-owned bagel shops and summers in Eastern Europe, Annette collects Jewish, Gypsy, and Slavic folk songs, and, with Golem, rewrites, adds, edits, and rearranges them along the way. These are the songs to which Eastern European grandparents danced over a century ago, and now Golem has its unwrinkled fans moshing to the same pulsing beats."
You can get Golem's Fresh Off Boat and other albums and goodies from their website.