Saturday, October 17, 2009

Notes on my "Silver Age of Jewish Music" talk

I normally don't post on Shabbat, but I'm up at 3 in the morning and my brain is buzzing about my upcoming Ignite Ann Arbor talk "The Silver Age of American Jewish Music is Happening Now! And Why We're Missing It." I posted earlier this week about the talk, so I won't repeat the details here. Other than to say giving a 5 minute talk is not easy and I'm more than a little bit stressed. I can't convey a real nuanced story in 5 minutes. Anything I say will be fundamentally wrong or misleading in some major way. I just have to deal with it.

I've spent the last 2 hours working out a rough storyboard of my 20 slides. I get 15 seconds for each one. Whew. Here's a pretty close approximation of what I sketched out. Sorry the formatting's crummy, but it's 3 am. Comments anyone?

1?Fast intro: I write a blog on Jewish Music. Not a musican
or expert. Just a rookie fan.
2Words/album covers 'klezmer/Dave Tarras', Cantorial/Jan Peerce', 'theater/fiddler', 'folk/hava nagila'I knew a few random bits that had come through what passed for a national Jewish musical culture in the 1970's.
3Avant-garde / Kelka Red & Frum-Pop / LipaI found this. (play 7 second music clips)
4Jazz / David Chevan & Reggae / Matisyahu(play 7 second music clips)
5House / Ghettoplotz & Misrachi Chamber / Davka(play 7 second music clips
6Sephardic Indie / DeLeon & Pop Liturgical / Sam Glaser(play 7 second music clips)
7Hip Hop / Y-Love & Yiddish Blues / Wolf Karakowski(play 7 second music clips)
8fill screen with album coversAnd lots more. Art music. Bible-gum. Yiddish Gothic. Boy Choirs. Niggunim. All happening now. But how come I didn't know about this?
9Pictures of 1930's Jewish NYC
Because I don't live here. I'm not living in a predominately Jewish are w/ defining a Jewish culture & media
10Picture of 1940's Catskill resort
The Golden Age of Jewish Music was in the 20's through 40's, right along with the big wave of Jewish immigrants from Europe
11Picture of Jewish big band / swing albums?
Who like most immigrant groups clung to culture & community while at the same time radically assimilating and reinventing themselves
12pics of a yiddish radio station, theater, newspaper and the Eldridge Street Synagogue. Their media, and cultural lives, were tied up the local Yiddish radio station, theater, and newspapers and shuls with a superstar cantors.
13?I, and most Jews in the US, are products of that assimilation. We don't have that community & media because it's largely vanished.
14pics of Orthodox & Chassidic media (e.g. JM in the AM, a Big Event type poster, the Jewish Jukebox logo, a current frum-pop album cover.Though it still exists in pockets, predominately in the small but vibrant Orthodox and Chassidic communities
15pics of 1950's through 1980's JM albums. Bagles & Bongos. 'Hear O Israel: Service in Jazz.' 'Brothers Zim' 'Jan Peerce' 'Israeli Kibbutz Singers'Jewish music didn't die but it lost relevance and focus. It became marginalized, attenuated, and self-referential.
16kapelye album cover, Sholomo Carlebach cover, Jeff Klepper or Debbie Friedman cover. Flory Jagoda album coverNow it's exploding again. Kicked off in the 1970's by the klezmer revival and by Reform camp music & Chassidic folk-niggunim entering the liturgy, and in the 1980's by a world music scene that pushed local ethnic diversity as a marketing gimick.
17map of Jewish population centers in the US with a television in the middle of it.But I live here. We American Jews get our media awareness through mainstream American channels. Unless you're visible to the mainstream media (eg. Matisyahu) most American Jews don't know to look. We're in a silver age of Jewish Music, but most American Jews don't know it.
18images of YouTube, MySpace, CD Baby, Teruah blog, Jewish Music Report The Internet is making a difference. It makes everything more accessible, but you still need to know to look and now what to look for.
19image of a social media graph. maybe with facebook or twitter logos.Without a central media, we are only exposed to it through word of mouth. This is a classic social network problem. And the new social media tools might be part of the answer. There is a rich community of transnational & transdemonational Jews self-organizing on facebook & twitter .
20overlay faces taken from twitter & facebook feeds I follow. So if Jewish music is interesting, go to synagogue, go to concerts, buy mp3s and CDs, watch videos & read blogs. But talk about it, tweet or status update about it, and let people know. Culture only happens in a vibrant community. It's time to rebuild one.

I think I need to shrink the Golden Age section by one slide and expand the social media section by one slide at least and give a really concrete example maybe use Patrick A from Can Can / Punk Torah as my poster boy of musician use. (you cool with that Patrick?) Also should think about a good example of non-musician/publisher/blogger usage. Maybe a page of interesting recent twitter comments.

* note, I'm thinking about using a light gold background on slides relating to the Golden Age and a light silver background on current slides. I'm not sure if that will work or not.

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