Friday, February 29, 2008

Ayn Kelokainu Rocks

Whew. It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm finally getting back to my Friday, pre-Shabbat tradition of posting an interesting video of something liturgical to help us all get in the mood. Here's a classic rock inspired Ayn Kelokainu, written by Joel Alhadef and rocked out by Joel, Ricky D, and Zvi of the Dallas Chabbad house. Thanks guys, it made my day.

Ayn Kelokainu

Hat tip to the the Apple700 blog for blogging the video and to YouTube user Zweef1980 for posting it.

Larry was bitten by a radioactive Chassid

Look out! It's Judaicaman!

I love the whole concept of viral video advertising. Imagine, advertising actually intended to be entertaining. It's such a radical concept that it actually got it's own term.

Here's a great one advertising the online Judaica store, Judaica Place. The video was originally posted on I picked it up from the Apple770 blog. Everyone should go buy something from Judaica Place, just as a thank you for brightening our day.

Judaica Man

By the way, if any of my friends or family reads this (or random kind hearted strangers), I'd love to get one of the Judaicaman t-shirts available from Cafe Press.

Judaicaman T-Shirt

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Responding to the charge of Jewish cultural narcissim

The Jewish Rider (1985), oil on canvas by R.B. Kitaj – Marlborough Gallery, New YorkRoaming the blogosphere this morning, I ran into an interesting post on the blog "Dyneslines" about the author's perception (as a non-Jewish New Yorker) of the Jewish communities cultural narcissism. The post is too long to quote verbatim but here are a couple of short posts, so you can get the flavor of the argument (if you're interested, please read the whole post)...

"As an intellectual, naturally I feel indebted to such creative figures as Popper, Koestler, Panofsky, Einstein, Schoenberg and so many others. All the teachers who influenced me in grad school were Jewish. I used to think that if I could figure out their secret, I could really go places. Alas, the secret was not being Jewish but having the advantage of superb education in Weimar Germany, an option that ceased to be available after 1933."

"Here in New York City we are bombarded with celebrations of Jewish films and books. Countless articles and book reviews appear in the New York Times and other quality media. It is all interesting--up to a point....Today, the new sentimentalization of ghetto life. Fiddler-in-the-Roofism, obscures these realities."

"Yet in key ways the collective narcissism of American Jews is unique among ethnic groups."

Anyway, I should make it clear, I don't take this post to be anti-semitic and hope that no one else does either. While I disagree with it, I think it is a legitimate response by a thoughtful person. I just think the author is wrong.

Here is my response. Sorry it's long too...

Hi. Interesting post, though I strongly disagree with your premise and conclusion I resonate with some of the connections between them. For the record, I'm both a Jew (not secular, though not Orthodox either) and one who lived as "an enlightened heterosexual in San Francisco."

To be specific.
1. I do generally "support gay rights, and enjoy cabaret, theater, and films featuring camp and gay wit."

2. I don't "long for a moratorium on the perpetual festival of gaydom"

3. I acknowledge that in "New York City [you] are bombarded with celebrations of Jewish films and books. Countless articles and book reviews appear in the New York Times and other quality media"

4. I don't accept that it's due to "a kind of salmagundii of ethnic exhibitionism" or "the collective narcissism of American Jews" (or African-american's, Hispanic/Latino's, Greek-Americans, Irish-Americans...)

Let me suggest a couple of another interpretations.

One thing that is similar in your two strawmen (gay culture in SF and Jewish culture in NY) is that both groups have significant and recent histories of victimhood they are trying to overcome and/or recover from. Significant portions of the world hold unreasoning, unrelenting, and often murderous hatred for both groups. For the Jews, not only was genocide attempted in the last century, but, in the sense of destroying centuries old Jewish communities and cultural histories, it was largely successful. For the gays, there are few places or groups in the world that do not condemn and persecute them for merely existing.

It is no wonder then, that each group takes moments of opportunity (SF and NY at the end of the last century) to attempt to preserve and establish their history and culture. If not for these moments, there is a very real chance of them not being able to perpetuate these cultures.

So, where you see this as outwardly directed self-congratulatory narcissism (and truthfully, there may be some of that too), I see it as inwardly directed reinforcement.

Let me offer you an analogy..

I once went to a funeral of a Christian with a friend who was an atheist. The friend was annoyed and offended by her perception of the Christian's priest's proslytizing. The thing is, the priest wasn't talking to her. He was preaching to a Christian family and other members of their Christian congregation. He was answering their needs, using his Christian-centered, language for grief and recovery.

At the time I took my friend to task for her solopsitic view that the priests words were directed at her. Now, I'll take this post to task in the same way...while you're invited and welcome to the gay culture and Jewish culture events, no one's really talking to you.

Please join the conversation and post a comment either here or at Dyneslines.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chassid concert banned by rabbis

Hebrew Ban textOver the last year of writing this blog, I've done my best to get my head around the traditional (Modern Orthodox & Chassid) music scene. For a liberal Conservative Jew like me, it can be a bit of an other-worldly experience.

Here's a good example. There is/was a big concert ("The Big Event") scheduled for March 9th at Madison Square Garden, in New York featuring Sheya Mendlowitz, Yisroel Lamm, Lipa Schmeltzer, & Shloime Gertner all regular performers on the traditional Jewish music circuit. I've seen folks in the frum music blogs and mailing lists buzzing about it for months now. The Big Event was a Big Deal.

And now it's been canceled, banned by leading rabbi's. Why? I'm not clear, though Blog In Dm has an excellent play by play of the whole affair. It seems that the rabbi's take issue with Lipa Schmeltzer for some reason. (I posted Lipa's 'Oy Channukah' video recently. Surreal, but very fun.) The language they use in the ban, though, seems (to BlogInDm) to set the stage for banning all concerts. (The text to the left is the official ban proclamation.)

Not being part of the traditional community, I'm not going to comment on whether the ban is a good thing or a bad thing, or whether it was executed properly or not. But I will say that I find the whole thing perplexing.

Anyway, I feel bad for all of the teenage Chassid music fans with tickets and no show to go to. I remember being 17 with a ticket to a big concert in my hand (Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, and R.E.M). That was about as magical a feeling as I've ever had. Having the show canceled? whew. that would have been pretty dismal.

Here's a representative quote from one of the fans on one of the frum music mailing lists...

"This is a real loss and a sad victory for the dregs of frum society who hide
their rishus behind fake frumkeit. Lipa is FUN. We are allowed to have FUN. Get it? Got it? Good!!"

I hear you brother, and I'm sorry it's going down like this.


I was reading through some more of tonights blog / mailinglist discussion on the banning and have a few more details.

1. It seems that the issue with Lipa is that his performances are a bit 'over the top' and 'goyish' for some in the Jewish community. The official word is that Lipa has decided to change his act to leave the objectionable bits out of future shows.

2. The issue of 'goyish' songs (non-Jewish compositions) is coming up regularly. This is one of the most perplexing bits. Jewish music has always borrowed back and forth with the music of our non-Jewish neighbors. What's the big deal here?

3. Another possible issue is the use of mixed seating (e.g. men and women sitting next to each other.) Evidently this is frowned on. The confusing thing is that, according to my sources, the Big Event was not going to allow mixed seating and HASC, another big Chassidic Orthodox concert series, does allow mixed seating (and hasn't been banned).

Balkan Beat Box live in Israel (and heading your way)

I just downloaded the latest Balkan Beat Box album, Nu Med, from eMusic yesterday. Great stuff. I had a really annoying report to write at work and needed a little pick-me-up about half-way through it. Nu Med delivered and had me happy and bouncing for the 2 hours it took to write 20 word responses to 234 technical questions about my companies technical capabilities. sigh.

I've written about Balkan Beat Box a couple of times, most specifically in this post. But if you haven't run across them before, here's their band description...

"BBB makes connections that politics often keep separate. Jewish, Gypsy, Arabic, and American are united by hip hop beats and dancehall toasts. BBB’s musical hitch-hiking continues as they mix things up with dub and electronics, juxtaposed with ancient Moroccan and Mediterranean melodies. The band’s uncategorizable sound gives equal weight to soulful acoustic timbres and digital rhythms creating a uniquely organic sound with electronic elements."
Here's a recent video of the BBB guys whooping it up in Israel in their current world tour. Check out their MySpace Page for the schedule.

בלקן ביט בוקס בתל-אביב. Balakn Beat Box Live ל-

Hat Tip to Israeli website for posting the video. Check out other YosMusic videos here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shtreiml coming to town

Living on the North Coast (aka Michigan), I don't get a lot of great Jewish music bands coming my way. I'm in for a treat, though. Shtreiml will be hitting Ann Arbor on March 6 and playing the Neutral Zone. I hope I can make it to the show. I first posted about Shtreiml back in January of 2007. Here's how they describe themselves...
"Shtreiml offers a high-octane mix of not-so-traditional Eastern-European Jewish and Turkish music. Led by harmonica innovator Jason Rosenblatt, one of the few people worldwide who can play the diatonic harmonica (a.k.a. blues harp) chromatically, Shtreiml's blues-rock infused set delivers a new look at some centuries old folk music."
I shouldn't be greedy. If you don't happen to live on the North Coast (and if you do, please drop me a note) you can catch up with Shtreiml at any of these venues.

2/26 Boston, MA - The Beehive
2/28 Arlington, VA - IOTA Club and Cafe
3/1 West Chester, PA - Performing Arts Center @ University of West Chester
3/4 Pittsburgh, PA - Howler's Coyote Cafe
3/5 Cleveland, OH - The Grog Shop
3/6 Ann Arbor, MI - The Neutral Zone
3/8 Petoskey, MI - Crooked Tree Arts Center (Blissfest Org. Concert Series)
3/9 Traverse City, MI - Inside Out Gallery

Billy Ray Sheet's "The Ballad of Purim" Chapters 7 & 8

Here's Billy Ray Sheet's "The Ballad of Purim," chapters 5 & 5. If you haven't already, check out chapters 1 & 2., chapters 3 & 4., and chapters 5 & 6.

Billy Ray Sheet's "The Ballad of Purim" Chapters 5 & 6

Here's Billy Ray Sheet's "The Ballad of Purim," chapters 5 & 5. If you haven't already, check out chapters 1 & 2. & chapters 3 & 4.

Billy Ray Sheet's "The Ballad of Purim" Chapters 3 & 4

Here's Billy Ray Sheet's "The Ballad of Purim," chapters 3 & 4. If you haven't already, check out chapters 1 & 2.

Billy Ray Sheet's "The Ballad of Purim" Chapters 1 & 2

While the abuse of power comes as no surprise, neither does the abuse of those in power. Here is the inimitable Billy Ray Sheet, with a Purim Shpeil in four parts that tells the story of Purim while gently poking fun at our current leaders.

A merry retelling of the Purim story (Book of Esther), combining ancient Persia, the White House, and the planet Naboo (Star Wars), and putting them all into a Beverly Hillbillies envelope.

Here's part 1, covering chapters 1 and 2. I'll post the other 3 sections in following posts. Stay tuned!

For more of Billy Ray Sheet, see "Eight Nights, Eight Lights.", "Fun in my Sukkah, with Elvis" and Manischewitzville.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hamsa: Like the Backstreet Boys in Yarmulkes

Now we have a boy band to call our own. sigh.

Hamsa Boys Bring Us Shalom

hat tip to YouTube user Aslebow for posting the video.

Grin. I was just told (in the comments) that I'm 10 years late. Evidently Hamsa is 10 years old. I didn't realize that.

A sakh zmires un veynik lokshn (or, lots of sacred songs but very few noodles)

A drawing of a man carrying a pole of grapes (from the blog In Mol Araan)Funny how things connect. I haven't posted about Yiddish music in a while. Then, a couple of hours after posting the "Yiddish Language and Song" documentary I received a lovely note from "The Chocolate Lady" about her Yiddish food and song blog "אין מױל ארײן, In Mol Araan" My wife and I are obsessed foodies with a wall full of cookbooks and and happy kitchen table where a lot of songs get sung (zemirot, as well as as selections from "High School Musical 2") so I completely empathize with her connection of the two.
One of things The Chocolate Lady does, under the category of "sacred songs for the welcome table" (in Yiddish "A sakh zmires un veynik lokshn" or, lots of sacred songs but very few noodles - meaning "lots of effort for a small reward") is to transcribe the lyrics to Yiddish zimrot (religious table songs). While I can't read the Yiddish, here's an example called Oylem habe iz a gute zakh, ober lernen toyre iz di beste zakh.” “The world to come is a good thing; but learning Torah is the best thing.”

די װערטער זענען באמת אַ ביסל שװערלעך צו פֿאַרדײַען;
דאָס ניגונדל, אָבער, איז זײער לעבעדיק.
עולם הבא איז אַ גוטע זאַך;
לערנען תּורה איז די בעסטע זאַך.
װאַרפֿט אַװעק איעדן יאָך,
לערנען תּורה נאָך און נאָך,
עולם הבא איז אַ גוטע זאַך.

Her blog is almost exclusively in Yiddish, so I can't read it. But if you can, or are interested in in seeing Yiddish in action, you should check it out. The sections I read were in Yiddish, but I was assured that the blog is about 2/3rds in English. So everyone should check it out.

(By the way, how come I don't have a cool name like "The Chocolate Lady?" The only nickname I've had recently is "Kneesocks," given to me by one of my brothers after a certain fashion disaster I perpetrated last summer. )

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yiddish Language and Song: A Collision with Zionism and the Birth of Israel

I was catching up on some Yiddish video's this afternoon and ran into this fascinating documentary interview with Yiddish culture archivist, Frank Krasnowsky by PDXJustice.Org. I've only seen the first 10 minutes or so, but it bounces back and forth between Yiddish protest music, socialism and anarchism, and US and Israeli history. Great stuff. (Warning...this is a long GoogleVideo. You can see a 10 minute excerpt at

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ross M. Levy gets funky

Here's the lead track of off Ross Levy's "Where the Future Lies". If you like it, you can nab the album from his website. You can catch more of his videos on his YouTube channel.

Im Ein Ani Li Mi Li (Funk Edition)

Broadsheet: Jewish Music in the News

Reports about Jewish music show up in a lot of odd places. I'm going to try to keep up with the more interesting reports. Here are some recent ones...

"La Mar Enfortuna and Pharaoh's Daughter: Expanding The Jewish Musical Tradition", All About Jazz, February 17

New and Notable (Golem and Pharoah's Daughter play the Houston JCC), Houston Chronicle, Feb 15

"Yelling Melodiously" a review of The Shondes' Red Sea, The Forward, Feb 13

From Niggunim to Led Zeppelin, Cleveland Jewish News, Feb 14

A new kind of aria for Dershowitz
, Harvard University Gazette, Feb 14

James Conlon's mission: Revive operas banned by Hitler, International Herald Tribune, Feb 13

A Rare Jewish Bid for the Classically Sacred Concert, The New York Times, Feb 12

Berel Lazar called Grammy’s laureate Yury Bashmet a pride of Jewish people
, Interfax Religion, Feb 12

Kosha Dillz spearheads Jewish rap movement, University of Wisconsin Advance Titan, Feb 11

American Jewish Rockers Seek to Boost IDF Morale, Israel National News, Feb 10

UCLA receives $1 million to establish chair in Jewish music, UCLA Newsroom, Feb 6

Jorge Liderman, award-winning composer and music professor, dies, UC Berkely News, Feb 6

Music biz ponders Amy Winehouse's plight
, Detroit Free Press, Feb 3

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Double Klezmer Wednesday: Cracow Klezmer Band & The Bester Quartet

Bester QuartetI just realized I haven't posted any Klezmer recently. To make up for it, today will be (insert lots of reverb) 'Double-Klezmer Wednesday.'

The first video is by the Cracow Klezmer Band with guest vocalist Grazyna Auguscik. According to their Myspace Page, the CKB formed in 1997 in Krakow, Poland. They've had a number of successful albums on the Tzadik label and have played festivals and concerts around the world.

According to her bio, Auguscik is "is one of the most intriguing contemporary vocalists on today’s World jazz scene. Her elusive style challenges traditional definitions of jazz and show vocalist and musician without boundaries." (I love bio puffery. Does this actually mean anything?). If you like her performance in this video (and I do) check out her website for more info or her new album 'Live Sounds Live' available through CDBaby.

Cracow Klezmer Band & Grazyna Auguscik

And for my second Wednesday klezmer video...The Bester Quartet, the latest incarnation of the Crackow Klezmer Band. Less frielach, more chamber music, the Bester Quartet's "trademark is performance of the music of a vast stylistic range that assimilates some selected elements borrowed from classical, jazz and vanguard music, including the best of achievements of the contemporary chamber music where improvisation constitutes a foundation to build some unique instrumental forms on." (whew, I'm breathless and I only cut and pasted that puff). I love traditional klezmer, but I've come to really enjoy this kind of klezmer infused chamber music. For me, Davka owns this space, but the Bester Quartet is a welcome addition.

Bester Quartet

Hat tip to YouTube users Thomkee and MCKMyslowice for posting the videos.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Todd Herzog - Tree of Life

Here's another video I'm taken with at the moment. It's Todd Herzog, performing 'Tree of Life' at the Union of Reform Judaism 2007 Biennial. I got turned on to the video by Todd's wife Karen who emailed me some promotional material the other day. I'm kind of surprised how much I like this song. It has a lovely combination of vulnerability and reverence, and like the best of singer-songwriter lyrics, it paints a detailed enough picture of a life in transition for me to say, 'yeah, I've been there too.' And I have been. Great stuff. I've listened to the video about a dozen times already and may have to shell out for his new album, Proverbs (available through CDBaby).

Here's Herzog's official 'press pack' description...
"Todd performs his own Jewish, spiritual, acoustic pop music around the country. He is an artist who takes the raw material of life experiences and creates soulful, spiritual, acoustic pop music along the lines of John Mayer, Jason Mraz, and Marc Cohn. The music is not intended solely as entertainment but also to promote healing and change in people’s lives. His songs invite us to slow down and take a closer look at how the simple choices we make each day affect the shape of our journeys. Todd is the Artist-In-Residence for Vocal Music at the upcoming JCC Maccabi ArtsFest in Minneapolis. He has a residency with several of the Jewish day schools in the Phoenix area to develop a project to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary. He is also the cantorial soloist for a Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, AZ. "
Todd Herzog at 2007 URJ Biennial

If you enjoyed this and want more, check out Herzog's two albums "What I Wouldn't Give" and "Proverbs", but available through CDBaby. You can also get more info on Herzog's activities through his website and MySpace page.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Betzalel Edwards

Betzalel Edwards is a Chassidic musician and scholar from Boston (US) now living in Jerusalem. I'm pretty taken with this video, but haven't been able to find out yet whether he has any recordings, or if he just performs live. reHe's translated 'Mei HaShiloach', the teachings of the Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Isbitza, into English. You can listen (online or download) to Edwards giving a shiur (lecture) on the topic at Reishet.Org.

Betzalel Edwards

sigh. I really need to get my guitar out again.

Israeli funk-rock band Zvoov im Groove chats with the Jewish Television Network

The Jewish TV Network has started posting some of it's original programming to YouTube. I'm sure I'll be posting more over time, but don't wait. They've got lots of interesting content on their site right now. Go check it out.

This video is JTV's Elyssa interviewing Adi from the Israeli funk-rock band Zvoov im Groove and includes the video for the band's song "A Girl from Peru." You can find out more about the band and hear more of their tracks at their MySpace page.

Zvoov Im Groove

No Grammies this year for Jewish entries (but Amy Winehouse cleans up)

Album cover for Statman's East Flatbush BluesThis was a strange year (as they usually are) for Jewish music and the Grammy Awards. There were only two nominees, both were for well known Jewish musicians involved with non-Jewish recordings. And neither won. Oh well.

Klezmer/bluegrass musician Andy Statman was nominated, but didn't win for his mandolin ramble"Rawhide," from his album East Flatbush Blues. (You can hear a clip from Rawhide here). East Flatbush Blues is an "a new album of American roots and original melodies, Statman's first all mandolin release since Andy's ramble" While this isn't a Jewish recording, Stateman is well known for his klezmer mandolin and clarinet playing on numerous recordings. My personal favorite is Statman's first collaboration with David Grisman "Songs of Our Fathers."

Album cover for People Take WarningMusician/historian/producer Henry Sapoznik was nominated, but didn't win, for People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938. People take Warning presents
"Songs of death, destruction and disaster, recorded by black and white performers from the dawn of American roots recording are here, assembled together for the first time. Whether they document world-shattering events like the sinking of the Titanic or memorialize long forgotten local murders or catastrophes, these 70 recordings - over 30 never before reissued - are audio messages in a bottle reflecting a lost world where age old ballads rubbed up against songs inspired by the day's headlines."
While this isn't a Jewish themed compilation Sapoznik is well known in the the klezmer community for his performances and for his book & CD compilation "Klezmer: Jewish Music from the Old World to Our World."

So, no trophy this year. But congrats to both Statman and Sapoznik for their marvelous work.

On the other hand British Jewish vocalist / disaster Amy Winehouse won 'Best New Artist" and most everything else in sight. She took "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance," "Record of the year" & "Song of the Year" for her album/song Rehab. She also won "Best Pop Vocal Album" for her album "Back to Black" Her producer won Producer of the Year. I'm sure the folks on Jewschool are doing little dances over this.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hava Nagila & JumpStart World

So, is Judaism the only religion in the world with a theme song? The occasion doesn't matter, if you want to something to sound Jewish, just add Hava Nagila. Sigh.

I had funny 'Hava Nagila' moment recently that I thought I'd share. I was washing dishes and humming to myself. I'd wanted to put some music on in the kitchen, but was foiled by my 5 year old. Before I could fire up one the 'Ofer Ben-Amots' discs I just got in the mail she asked to play her video game, JumpStart World Kindergarten. (Brief plug, JSW is a pretty slick game, with a great mix of educational and entertainment content. The wiggler loves it.). JSW is pretty noisy and has it's own sound track, so no music for me. Oh well. Back to humming. All of a sudden I realized I was humming Hava Nagila. Huh? Then I realized I was humming along with the little one's game. She was running around her game world with the body of a girl robot and a MIDI instrumental Hava Nagila soundtrack. When we started the game, we'd identified ourselves as "celebrating Chanukah." That got us lot of Jewish stars and menorah's around Chanukah. And now...Hava Nagila.

To quote a friend from college..."now thats a metaphor for something larger"

Friday, February 8, 2008

Simply Tsfat on Rabbi Doug, 1992

This video is a blast, not only for the great performance by Israel's 'Simply Tsfat', but for the honky-tonk Rabbi Doug theme music that leads off. Rabbi Doug does a weekly radio show in the Chicago area. You can get more info and show times from his website. He recently started putting clips from his show onto YouTube and I'll probably post a number of them over the coming weeks. Great stuff.

Simply Tsfat are Breselev Chassidim from the US and Canada, who now live and perform in Israel. They have a half dozen or so albums available through Sameach Music and well loved in the frum Jewish music community. I forgot to mention, I picked this video to play today because of the lovely performance of Shabbos Kadshenu. Shabbat shalom!

"Simply Tsfat" performs on TAPED WITH RABBI DOUG

Hat Tip to Rabbi Doug for posting this video and lots more.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Koby Israelite Live

Koby Israelite is an Israeli multi-instrumentalist in the John Zorn mold (and on the John Zorn Tzadik / Radical Jewish Culture label). This video isn't the greatest, but will give you a taste. I'm particularly in love with his album 'Dance of the Idiots.' Here's the album description:
"Koby Israelite is a young Israeli musician living in London who enjoys smashing genres together and grinding them into dust. Koby has absorbed an astounding array of musics, and blends them together here in dynamic and colorful musical world all his own. As complex and finely crafted as naked City, Frank Zappa or Mr. Bungle at their best, the music on Dance Of The Idiots, Koby’s debut recording, is a passionate exploration of the Jewish experience. Cantorial Death Metal, Nino Rota Klezmer, Balkan Surf, Catskills free improvisation. You’ve never heard such sounds."
Koby Israelite Live

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

MyFaceSpace, the musical

And now for something completely different.

Jewish video game commentator "GameJew" teams up with art-pranksters "monochrom" to stage a musical about social networking and personal privacy. Much hilarity, and a spot on BoingBoing TV, ensues.

Teihu rocks Pittsburgh

Band pic of Teihu
I just got an email Teihu, from my favorite Pittsburgh Chassidic heavy metal band. I went to school for a while in Pittsburgh and have a soft-spot for all things related to Da'Burgh. (I particularly miss being around folks who speak proper Burgh English. Yinz jeet jet? No, d'ju?).

Anyway, the "screeching cacophony of bliss" wants everyone to know that while they didn't win the battle of the bands they were participating in they did really well. They also have some new demo's available on their website & myspace pages.

Here is Phykkusabrig and Dirty Little Secrets. Let me know know what you think.


Dirty Little Secrets

They're going to be in Cincinnati for a "Pre-Purim Party on March 19. Last year about 250 college students showed on Purim to the Chabad House for the event. Going for a bigger crowd this year!" Contact Yitz the Poritz at for more info.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Contemporary Niggunim: the Techelet Ensemble & The New Song For Jerusalem Quintet

Here are two lovely examples of new niggunim from Israel. While both are instrumental, not vocal, they interpret and draw inspiration from the niggun tradition.

This first video doesn't have any of the arty dissonance I love, but every once and a while I force myself to listen to something that's just pretty. (It's good for me) And this video of Yoel Taieb and the Techelet Ensemble from Jerusalem, is pretty, but there is also a gentle sense of adventure to it that's gotten me to re-listen to it a number of times. It's basically a wedding video, but if you can take your music with a dose of rosy cheeked hand-holding then it's worth the watch. The Techelet Ensemble have two recordings available through CD Baby, "The World to Come" and "I will hope for him.

Techelet Ensemble Nigun

The second video is Amir Perelman and the "New Song for Jerusalem Quintet." I couldn't find out much about Perelman other than he "meshes the many musical styles he's picked up while plucking his way around the globe. Whether dabbling in traditional Indian music or playing contemporary Western material, the Israeli composer seems to always teeter his tunes on the edge of complexity." Whatever that means, this is lovely piece.

Amir Perelman Shtaltem Nigunim

hat tip to Yoel Taiem and YouTube member abperi for posting the videos.