Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jewish Cowboys Part 2: Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber Jewish Cowboy The Jewish immigration into the US from Eastern Europe, as are most I suppose, was a strange experience for all involved. When the dust settled America had acquired professors and gangsters, cantors and shopkeepers, orthodox enclaves, reform communities and leftist Petaluma chicken farmers. All of whom inherited pieces of old Europe and transformed it into the American Jewish experience. And yeah, I wasn't kidding about the chicken farmers.

Scott Gerber, subject of the Bonnie Burt's documentary "Song of a Jewish Cowboy" is the grandson of chicken farmers and cowhand who "didn't know Jews were a religion until I got to be a teenager" and spent a"decade or so living in flophouses from Montana to Nevada to the San Joaquin Valley, herding cattle on the hot, dusty plains." (quotes from the article Yiddisher cowboy: 'I'm not the stereotype' by Andy Altman-Ohr). But Gerber takes his tradition seriously. In addition to his skills as ranch hand, Gerber plays guitar and sings Yiddish tunes such as "Bin Ikh Mir a Shnayderl (I'm a tailor)" and "Zog Nit Keynmol (don't say never)." Gerber has an album available at CD Baby featuring both "traditional yiddish songs about working people and familiar social justice songs by Woodie Guthrie and Earl Robinson."

By the way, Bonnie Burt has a number of Jewish-themed documentaries including ones on Jewish Cuba, Jewish China, the Sephardim, and of course, the leftist chicken farmers of Pateluma.

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