Friday, May 30, 2008

Havdalah with the Moshav Band and with Reb. Shlomo Carlebach

Havdalah woodcutShabbat's almost here and it's time for some good liturgical music to help us get in the mood. Half the fun for me is the time I spend thinking about Shabbat, trying to decide what prayer or zmirot I'm most in the mood for. This week I realized that I'd never posted anything related to Havdalah. From one perspective, that's pretty reasonable. Havadalah is the service that closes out Shabbat. That would be a bit like going in the out door, right?

But, honestly, there's another reason why I've never posted anything related to Havdalah. I don't do the Havdalah service. I light candles (mostly) every Shabbat, but I'm not Shomer Shabbas. Even as my religious practice has improved over the years, I've felt very uncomfortable taking on Havdalah. For me, Shabbat is basically over once the Friday night candles burn out (or once I'm back from synagogue on Saturday on the rare occasion I make it there). So, for me, performing the Havdalah ritual would be strangely dislocated from the Friday night rituals by a day of secular errands and whatnot.

That doesn't mean I'm not aware of what I'm missing. The few times I've participated in it were moving experiences. An experience I was thinking a lot about this morning, for some reason. And so, without anymore whining about the problems I cause myself, here are lovely examples of exactly what I and my family are missing every Saturday night.

Moshav Band Live @ Makor 3/17/07 Havdalah Service

Havdalah of Reb Shlomo Carlebach

Hat tip to YouTube users asilver8 and sewy18 for posting the videos.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alex Jacobowitz on being a Jewish musician in Germany

Here's an interesting interview with Alex Jacobowitz, a classically trained klezmer musician. In the interview he talks about his experiences as an Orthodox Jew touring in Eastern Europe and Germany.

Interview (Jerusalem 1998)

When you're done with the interview, you should check out some of his other YouTube videos. Klezmer on a xylophone is an interesting experience. It evokes a tsimbl, a typical klezmer instrument, but with a very different tone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jewish Cowboys Part 6: Bucky Goldstein

And Teruah's obsession with Jewish cowboys continues with installment six, Bucky Goldstein. This installment is about a joke and a song. Because this is a music blog, we'll do the song first.

Bucky Goldstein

The song was written by Mark "Emo" Langbehn. Here's his explanation...
Back-story: The title is drawn from a Steven Wright joke, but I didn't know it at the time. Michael Huskey was jamming with myself (Emo) and Adam S. and he made up this hilarious song called Bucky Goldstein. But we completely forgot how it went, except for the part about a bagel. Anyway, I wrote my own version trying to match how funny Michael's version was.
And now the joke...

Steven Wright: on a bus

Thanks to YouTube user TimClague (of Projector Films) for animating and posting the Steven Wright joke and to Mark "Emo" Langbehn for recording and posting the song.

the adventure continues.......Jewish Cowboys Part 5: Shir HaBokrim, the Song of the (Israeli) Cowboys, Jewish Cowboys Part 4: Harold Stern, Manischewitz Cowboy, Mare Winningham's "Refuge Rock Sublime", Jewish Cowboys Part 1: Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, Jewish Cowboys Part 2: Scott Gerber, Jewish Cowboys Part 3: So Called's "You Are Never Alone")

Searching for a Sephardic choral recording

In my last post I proudly proclaimed my victory at tracking down Ari Kunstler's "Eyes on Jerusalem." Yay me. But sadly, I'm only batting .50 lately. I am currently failing to find a Sephardic choral recording that another Teruah reader is looking for. She described it as being a Sephardic choral piece, conducted by Sir Neville Mariner and performed by the Academy of St.Martin in the Fields chorus. She only heard it once, years ago on the radio, and has been looking for it ever since. The best I was able to come up with was the 2003 Naxos recording of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's "Naomi & Ruth and Sacred Service for Shabbat Eve" for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music.

Good guess, it was wrong. Does anyone have any better suggestions?

Searching for Ari Kunstler's "Eyes on Jerusalem"

I've got a new job title. A Teruah reader has officially dubbed me "Musical Schadchen." (A schadchen is an expert matchmaker. I had to look it up.) From now on every email I send will proudly proclaim it.

Here's what happened. I received an email a couple of days ago by a Teruah reader who was trying to "track down an album/tape that was released about 15 years ago (I think), entitled Eyes on Jerusalem. ... Used to listen to it on long trips with the family -- the tape eventually dissolved in a grimey mix of smashed banana, hard boiled eggs, old maps, old tennis shoes, pretzels, twizzlers, and big gulps." I can empathize. I had a number of tapes go that route. And couple of others that, once I dug them out, had spontaneously became Queen's Greatest Hits. The footwells of cars do strange and unfortunate things to music.

I'd never heard of the album. 15 years ago I wouldn't have known such an album existed. But I love treasure hunts, so I hit Google and did some sleuthing. It turns out that the album was recorded by Ari Kunstler, musician, songwriter, and father of current Jewish music performer Aryeh Kunstler. I had a nice email exchange with Ari, who was delighted to find out that 15 years later his album was remembered and loved. "Eyes on Jerusalem isn't available through JewishJukebox, MostlyMusic, Hatikvah or any of the other usual suspects (Eichler's has Ari's most recent album, "In this place of Mercy"). But Ari still has some copies that he'd be happy to sell to anyone interested. Email me and I can pass along Ari's contact information.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Sound of Sacred Time

Earlier this week I posted about Cantor Andrew Bernard's article on the Kaddish. His bio had an intriguing note about his book, The Sound of Sacred Time: A basic music theory textbook to teach the Jewish prayer modes. I emailed him about and found that the book is self-published (contact him (704) 366-1948 x3042 or email me and I'll give you his email address.) Here is his table of contents and the first bit of a sample chapter. It looks very interesting.
Table of Contents

Magein Avot chapter sectionIf your interested, email me and I can send you the .pdf files of the table of contents and sample chapter sections.

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman: Song of Autumn

Beyle Schaechter-GottesmanFolks, here's an interesting press release I thought I'd pass along. For those not familiar with Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (me, for instance), she has been an important figure in the American Yiddish music scene. According to Wikipedia, "Schaechter-Gottesman’s songs have been performed by Theodore Bikel, Adrienne Cooper, Theresa Tova, Lucette van den Berg, Michael Alpert, Lorin Sklamberg, Sharon Jan Bernstein, Fabian Schnedler, Massel-Tov and others. A song written for her nephew, "Binyumele’s Bar Mitsve", was adapted by Adrienne Cooper for her daughter as "Sorele’s Bas Mitsve" and was recorded on the CD Mikveh ....Schaechter-Gottesman continues to serve as a resource for researchers of both Yiddish folk and art music. She has been recorded and interviewed numerous times and participated in such cultural events as KlezKamp, KlezKanada, Buffalo on the Roof, Ashkenaz, and Weimar KlezmerWochen...In 1998 Schaechter-Gottesman was inducted into the People's Hall of Fame at City Lore in New York; and in 2005 she received a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, one of the highest cultural honors given by a United States government agency"
Yiddish Film Project
Worlds within a World: Conversations with Yiddish Writers
Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman: Song of Autumn


The League for Yiddish is pleased to announce that the film Beyle
Schaechter-Gottesman: Song of Autumn (BEYLE SHEKHTER-GOTESMAN: Harbstlid), the second film in our series Worlds within a World: Conversations with Yiddish Writers (A velt mit veltelekh: shmuesn mit yidishe shraybers) is ready and available for viewing and purchase.

Beyle Schaechter Gottesman: Song of Autumn is an edited interview conducted with this remarkable Yiddish poet, songwriter, and singer by her son folklorist/journalist Itsik Gottesman and enhanced by photo stills and Schaechter-Gottesman's music. The film is 72 minutes long. The interview is entirely in Yiddish WITH VERY ACCURATE AND COMPLETE ENGLISH SUBTITLES. In it, BEYLE, whose name has become synonymous with modern Yiddish song and who has played a central role in revivng and inspiring interest in Yiddish song and poetry among a whole new generation of artists, discusses her life and creative path: her upbringing in the Yiddish cultural milieu of Tshernevits (then Rumania) as the daughter of a remarkable traditional folk singer and a passionate Yiddishist, the war years in Rumania, her development as a modern Yiddish poet and songwriter in New York, and her views on Yiddish literature and creativity. What emerges is a rich picture of the world of a woman who recited poetry to the great Yiddish fabulist Eliezer Shteynbarg as a child, was part of a vibrant Yiddish enclave in the Bronx, and is the only Yiddish poet ever to be awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation's top honor for folk arts.

The film is directed and edited by Josh Waletzky, director and editor of Image before My Eyes and Partisans of Vilna, and editor of Emmy Award-winning "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House." Among other awards, Josh is the recipient of the Silver Ducat at the Mannheim International Film Festival for Image and First Prize at the Anthropos International Film Festival for Partisans.

Both films make the perfect program for a Yiddish circle, class, or eveny our local Jewish or documentary film festival. The film is available in VHS or DVD format. TO ORDER, SEND $30 PLUS $5 POSTAGE (IN THE US) OR YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION to LEAGUE FOR YIDDISH 64 FULTON ST. SUITE 1101, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10038. Postage for Canada – $6.00 for either VHS or DVD. International postage other than Canada – $5 for the DVD and $12 for the VHS. You may also order at our website with a credit card or paypal. For inquires, please contact us at or call 212 889-0380.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Guide Kaddish in 16 Tracks

ḲADDISH (La Despidida) scoreI ran into a great article recently that I thought I'd share. Cantor Andrew Bernard writing in the Reform Jewish Magazine in the Spring 2007 issue offers an article "Sounds of Kaddish" along with a companion set of audio samples, "A Guide to Kaddish through 16 Music Tracks." The article and audio samples highlight the variety of forms and presentations of the Kaddish prayers.

To give you an idea of the article content, here's the first section. To read whole thing, go to "Sounds of Kaddish."
"When most Jews think of the Kaddish, they automatically think of the Mourner’s Kaddish, but we understand there are other forms. Could you tell us about them?

There are actually five forms of Kaddish.

Originally, Kaddish was used to conclude a time of study. This first form, known as Kaddish d’Rabbanan or the Rabbis’ Kaddish, probably dates from the Second Temple period and includes prayers for the blessing of scholars and their disciples, as well as praise of God.

The next two forms of Kaddish serve as prayer markers, telling us where we are in our liturgy. The Chatzi Kaddish—also known as Half Kaddish or, in our Reform prayer book, the Reader’s Kaddish—marks the conclusion of a particular section of the service. Kaddish Shaleim or the Full Kaddish marks the conclusion of the entire service. In this way, Kaddish migrated from the house of study to the house of prayer.

It wasn’t until much later, possibly as late as the thirteenth century, that the fourth kind of Kaddish, Kaddish Yatom or the Mourner’s Kaddish, came into the service, probably in response to the severe persecutions of Jews in Germany at the hands of the Crusaders.

The fifth form is the little-used Kaddish l’ithad’ta or Burial Kaddish. Written at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it is recited at the graveside at the time of burial. Interestingly, it is the only form of Kaddish that includes any reference to death or to resurrection."

I had great fun going through Cantor Bernard's 16 audio selections. Quite the surprising variety. Here are two of my favorites. You can hear the rest at "A Guide to Kaddish through 16 Music Tracks."

Track 1: Leonard Bernstein, Kaddish Symphony, Example I. In the first statement, a Din Torah, in which choir and orchestra present the strident, atonal theme, God is called to judgment for the terrible things going on in the world. From the CD “Kaddish Symphony,” Leonard Bernstein, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Conductor: Gerard Schwarz, Milken Archive 8.559456, Naxos American Classics. To order click

Track 5: James Raphael, Kaddish, Example I. Raphael’s Kaddish takes the listener on a journey from mournful lament…From the CD “Kaddish” for piano, James Raphael, Ars Musici Freiberger Musik Forum 1999 AM 1282-2
Cantor Bernard also offers "The Sounds of Kaddish: Discussion & Study Guide".

Friday, May 23, 2008


Here's a great track from the Montreal group New York musician Moshe. Other than the note in the YouTube description that suggests that they're Chabad Lubavitch (of course) I don't know anything about them. I'll let you know if I can dig up a website or myspace page.

illusion, moshe

Update: Like I said above, it's hard to find info on Moshe on the web. I just got an email from him clarifying things a bit. Here's what he had to say..."
"I'm not from montreal i just did a gig there. I'm based out of new york. My dream is to create a fusion of spiritual music and ideas to inspire people! my music is an eclectic blend of reggea, folk, and rap. I just did a concert in florida for lag b'omer, there will be a video coming out soon"
Hat tip to YouTube user zoox01 for posting the video and to the Apple 770 blog.

Thursday, May 22, 2008, A repository of mostly Ashkenazi Jewish liturgical music

If you're interested in liturgical music, you should check out the new website. It just launched today and loaded with video and audio files, sheet music, and instructional material. And a list of 1700 liturgical composers compiled in the 1950's. I had no idea.

Here are a couple of recordings I particularly enjoyed.

Hashkivenu by Bornstein sung by Hazan Yitzhak Nevo

Yismechu by Robert Brody

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dean Friedman's 1977 homage to Paramus, New Jersey (and Jewish girls in peasant blouses)

Dean Friedman Album CoverTrolling around YouTube (as I'm known to do) I ran across this gem. The song "Ariel," written and performed by Dean Friedman in 1977, chronicles a young man's romance with a Jewish girl. The song is a hoot, wonderfully descriptive of the time period and blissfully poppy. How have I lived this long without this one? The Franky Valley squeaks alone are priceless. According to wikipedia, this song reached #26 on the billboard charts. Even better, Friedman is still actively writing and gigging. Check out his website for more information and to order one of his many albums. I just snagged his first album "Dean Friedman" (the one with Ariel) off of eMusic. Can't wait to give it a spin.

For the record, I don't know if Friedman is Jewish or not. But since he has an album entitled "A Million Matzoh Balls" with tracks titled "A Million Matzoh Balls" and "In My Sukkah" I can only imagine.

Dean Friedman - Ariel

Thanks to YouTube user abmcw for posting the video. And to Dean Friedman for making my day 30 years after the song was written. I'm looking forward to catching up on your recent work.

Update: Youtube User abmcw just got back to me about the video and said "Glad you enjoyed it! It's a video I made using clips from the Prelinger Archive, an public domain archive of educational films, newsreels, commercials, etc." Great job and thanks so much.

Update II: I got a nice email from Dean Friedman tonight. First, he digs the video. Good job, abmcw. Second, about the Jewish songs. "
A Million Matzoh Balls is a collection of mostly silly Hebrew School songs I wrote for the local synagogue when asked to teach music when my kids were little. They've been picked up by synagogues and JCC's around the US. Fun stuff. It's not on eMusic but you can download the album via my website (or order the CD)." I'll do that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Radio Free Yidishkeit: Y-Love's 'This is Babylon'

This Is Babylon album cover...static pink noise detuned and oscillating WE GON' RISE...(bump bump) KEEP THE PARTY DIVINE (bump bump).... sirens rise against a slow base beat .... TWIST YOUR NECK MAKE YOUR HEAD MOVE SIDE TO SIDE .. machinery clanking . ARE YOU CONNECTED REJECT MISDIRECTED BELIEVE AND RECEIVE DIVINE DIALECTIC ... radio static static grind ... THIS CULTURE'S BABYLON SIN FEST ... quiver and semi-quaver, a power grid played like a theremin... WE GON' RISE ...MAKE THE PARTY DIVINE .........

I don't love this album, but I'm afraid of it. It owns my stereo and my attention like a radio broadcast from a warzone. I have to work to make out the lyrics over the hiss and crackle and when I can tune them in, the broadcaster is telling me that it's time to grab my family and run. But I'm too entranced by the rhythm and wordplay, the grinding soundscape. I have this feeling that I'm going to have to transcribe each song and learn them before I'll be able to shake it.

This is album is clearly hip-hop, but to me the unrelenting grind of it hits me like a good punk song does, right in the gut with no apologies. It lacks some of the humor, bounce, and gleeful language juggling of the earlier DJ Handler productions (like My Garden) and that lack turned me off at first. But 'This is Babylon' has it's own logic that is deeper and more compelling. While the slightly less dark "New Disease" will probably be the first single, songs like "Make the Party Divine" and "Mind Transit" goes right for the jugular. People have been asking me for a while who is going to pick up the torch from Matisyahu and bring to the masses a world class Jewish popular music. This is it folks.

The folks from Modular Moods have graciously provided this Y-Love samples radio. Enjoy

Add Y-Love Samples to your page

If you want to know more about Y-Love, you can listen to an interview on Public Radio International's The World.

You can find out more about Y-Love through his MySpace page or Modular Moods.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Heeb News Flash: Jews Are Neurotic!

Back in October, in a post on Jewish Emo music, I grumped that "I'm not a huge fan of Heeb [magazine]. I find the writing to be an exercise in hip irony with little substance. My one year subscription lapsed without much sadness." In particular "the music writing ... was pretty poor stuff. A lot of 'lets get some random person (someones aunt or rabbi) to write about contemporary music that they have no context for and then giggle about it'"

This morning I got a nice note from Arye Dworken, a music writer associated with Heeb and a variety of other outlets. He said "You should pick up Heeb again when you get the chance. We've been really tight with the music coverage in the past few issues. No more of that shticky comedian-review bit. I think you'd dig."

Marrisa NadlerCool. I'm always ready to give something a second try. Thanks for suggesting it. So I went to the Heeb online archive figuring I'd read the music writing from the last couple of issues. Issue 16. Nothing. Issue 15. Nothing. Issue 14. Bingo. Heeb writer Todd Goldstein has an article on Marrisa Nadler "The Little Freak-Folk Artist Who Could." The article is generally well written, if a bit vanilla, talking admiringly of Nadler's "finger-picked acoustic guitar and ... wispy, disembodied voice" and chronicling how she "originally had hopes of being a painter, but became disillusioned with the creativity-stifling competition at Providence’s Rhode Island School of Design." Then comes the money quote “I have a neurotic impulse to create that I think is very much a Jewish thing.”

Now, let's be clear. I'm not picking on Nadler. I haven't heard her music (for some reason I can't get her MySpace page to play her tracks) but she's gotten lots of good reviews. And I'm really not picking on Goldstein. (Ok, maybe a little bit). But mostly I'm picking on Heeb for letting Goldstein anchor the last paragraph of the article on this clunker. Is this really the best you can do, folks? Jews are neurotic? Thats it?

What's the point of having a Jewish magazine if passing off 30? 50?100? year old stereotypes about the urban Jew is the best you've got? If Nadler can't make a interesting connection between her music and her religion (not that she needs too), let it go at that. Or demand that your writers be real interviewers and help her explore the connection (if, in fact, there is one).

But this, to be blunt, is crap and the reason I let my subscription die.

I do appreciate Ayre inviting me to take another look at Heeb. I sent him an email asking if there were better examples of recent writing that he could point me to. If he can point me to a couple of examples of good Heeb music writing I will let everyone know. Until then...bleah.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Músicas na Rua: Portugese klezmer band Melech Melaya looking cool on street corners

There should be rule that every good klezmer band needs to be able to look and sound cool playing on a street corner. Melech Melaya sure does. I was catching up on recent posts on the Spanish language klezmer blog "Música klezmer" and found Melech Melaya's "Músicas na Rua" video. Which is, more or less, a medley of klezmer tunes, Melaya style, on a street corner. There is something infectious about the bumpadity drum and the swirly carnival style clarinet runs. Great fun.

Melech Mechaya - Músicas na Rua

For more on Melech Melaya, check out their website.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Kikar Israel: Your Central Spot for Israeli Music

Yael Naim Going WorldwideIsrael's 60th birthday has gotten the spotlight aimed at Israel for something other than it's domestic crises for once. And Israeli's have risen to the occasion, burnishing their collective image with lots of new media activity. One new website that grabbed my attention is Kikar Israel "Your Central Spot for Israeli Music." It's an English language website with music videos, charts, band bio's and headline news. If you consider statements like "Ninet shaves her head!" as being a headline.

As a teaser for the good stuff available through Kikar, here's Yael Naim and Din Din Aviv's video for "Mashmauyot"

Din Din Aviv and Yael Naim - Mashmauyot

Betty Rules!

Elizabeth Ziff, Alyson Palmer and Amy Ziff of BETTYBETTY Rules!

BETTY is a a five-piece pop rock band fronted by Elizabeth Ziff, Alyson Palmer and Amy Ziff (L to R in the photo below) I haven't seen them play yet and I am, as we speak, missing their performance at Ann Arbor's Ark theater.

BETTY isn't specifically a Jewish band, though from the major Jewish bling that Elizabeth is sporting in the photo I'm guessing the sisters Ziff are Jewish. BETTY has been playing together for 20 years or so, and has recently put together an Off-Broadway stage show called BETTY Rules! which tells the story of, brace yourself, a "feisty punk-pop-alternative-rock trio formed 20 years ago in the basement of the Ziff family manse." Autobiography is a beautiful thing. Adding a bit more Jewish cred, BETTY Rules! was in residence at the Theater J (at the Washington DC JCC) for a while. They're getting great reviews and racking up the tour miles.

Here's what BETTY has to say for themselves...
"Bonded since an unfortunate incarceration, BETTY began as an edgy a’cappella/spoken word/techno-beat trio in Washington DC. Fierce Elizabeth (vocals, guitar), funky Alyson (vocals, bass) and funny Amy (vocals, cello) are the songwriters, while virtuoso guitarist Tony Salvatore and sizzling drummer Mino Gori complete the band, now based in downtown NYC. Activist entertainers, the band is known for fighting fiercely for what they believe: equal rights, feminism, finding cures for breast cancer and AIDS, Planned Parenthood, the Pro-Choice movement, an end to sexual violence and everybody’s inalienable right to safely dance naked in the streets."
Anyway, I loved the photo and thought the tracks on their website were a hoot, so I figured I'd share.

Jungle Jane

It Girl

BETTY and the Serious Jewish Bling
If theatrical "feisty punk-pop-alternative-rock" makes you smile, check out their website and the BETTY rules site for more tracks, their gig schedule, and their 5 or so albums.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jewish music and disaffected Jews

I had an interesting discussion with one of my cousins at my brothers wedding this past weekend. We were catching up a bit and ended up chatting about this blog and Jewish music. He's a typical American disaffected, non-observant, cultural Jew and found the idea of a Jewish music blog a bit perplexing. Christian music, he thought he understood. Or, at least, he'd had it marketed to him through Grammy awards, holiday specials, and much more public marketing campaigns. He'd never thought about Jewish music as a genre or category. And I understand where he's coming from. I didn't either until I really started listening to it and for it.

While we were talking he raised on question that has had me pondering for days now. He noted that he, not being part of any particular Jewish community, didn't have any exposure to Jewish music and unlike everything else in this society, didn't have it marketed to him. And there are lots of reasons to do the marketing. To the music lover, there are so many great bands playing live and recording all the time that I can't track them all. To the disaffected Jew looking for a community, music can provide an easy connection between people not based on being frum or even observant (though that can come later if desired).

So how can we fix that? Lots of cities have Jewish music festivals. Even more have small Jewish musical groups or host visiting groups. Do we really do a bad job of publicizing them? Where is our Grammy? Where is our XM or Sirius satellite radio shows? Why does every list of 'religious music' radio shows on the internet consist almost entirely of Christian music.

It's a bit frustrating. That's all. I didn't have my iPod with me when I talked to my cousin, but if I did I'll bet I could have gotten him hooked on at least one or two recordings. So how do we make it easy for people like my cousin to get exposed? Any ideas?

More on Samaech's "Siman Tov Mazel Tov" Wedding Album

Here's a quick addendum's to this week's post on Samaech music's "Siman Tov Mazel Tov" wedding music compilation album.

First, when I wrote the post I forgot that Samaech sent me sampler track and the songlist. It would be a shame not to pass them along, so here you go.

Siman Tov Mazel Tov

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Maaco does Matchmaker, Matchmaker

I forget whether I was home on the North Coast (aka Michigan) or in Los Angeles when I saw it, but it cracked me up. There, on TV, was a new television spot for Maaco "America's Bodyshop." Cars were spinning and dancing and changing colors faster than a chameleon with Attention Deficit Disorder, all to the rock'n tune of Matchmaker, Matchmaker from "Fiddler on the Roof"

Maaco , to the tune of Matchmaker, Matchmaker Maaco Commerical

It hasn't been posted to youTube yet, but you can view it on Maaco's website.

It's a strange world.

More on David in Shadow and Light

After I posted about Daniel Hoffman and Yehuda Hyman's new musical David in Shadow and Light at the Theater J in Washington DC last week I received a nice note from the folks at Theater J. They wanted everyone to know that they had some special events planned relative to the musical. Here's the note....
"Following yours entries on 5/5 on Daniel Hoffman in conjunction with Theater J’s new musical David in Shadow and Light, I thought it would be worth emphasizing that we at the WJMF are also highlighting Daniel’s music with two fascinating programs:

a. David’s Harp: Following a performance of David in Shadow and Light (that coincides with the WJMF), we will have a post-performance discussion about “Jewish Music” and about David’s music with ethnomusicologist and clarinetist Joel Rubin and Composer and violinist Daniel Hoffman (June 4, 7:30 pm). More info below and in the following link.

b. Another special project is a screening of silent film The Golem with live score by Daniel Hoffman played by his excellent band Davka (June 3, 8 pm). More info below and in the following link.

The festival, which is coming up soon (May 31-June 8) celebrates and explores the wide spectrum of sounds and traditions that make up Jewish music. Throughout a nine-day festival, audiences will be able to hear a wide range of styles and influences that make up the richness of Jewish music. In addition to the above programs, the festival will feature David Buchbinder’s Odessa/Havana, an exciting Jewish-Cuban musical fusion; the Afro-Semitic Experience, showcasing the musical traditions of both Jewish and African diasporas; Beyond The Pale, presenting new klezmer music, fused with folk and roots; the Sisters of Sheynville who swing in Yiddish; dance music and classical music; musical theater and pop; and much more.

Some of the artists who perform at our festival are familiar to readers of your blog; others are artists about whom your readers would probably love to read. I invite you to check out the very exciting line up of the festival at and to join us for this celebration of Jewish music. Here is another reason for a trip down to DC!
Thanks folks. I'm doing my best to arrange a business meeting for in DC on one of those days (don't tell my boss).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Field testing Jewish wedding music: Sameach's Siman Tov Mazel Tov

Has it been a week since I posted? Whew. Sorry folks, it's been pretty hectic. I was scrambling to finish up some work prior to skipping town for my brother's wedding. Me and my gang flew west to LA for one of the coolest wedding's ever. My brother married a lovely Chinese American woman. The ceremony was Jewish (Reform style with some nice more traditional flourishes) and was bracketed with a Chinese Tea Ceremony and a nine-course Chinese banquet complete with Lion Dance. The Tea Ceremony was particularly entertaining for me and the other groomsmen. To help the the groom gain admittance we had to charm and bribe the bridesmaids. This involved dancing a can-can line, singing from the musical Grease, and drinking special tea (two shots of Makers Mark bourbon). Oh yeah, and I got thrown from a mechanical bull at the bachelor's party.

Siman Tov Mazel Tov cover artSo, I had this grand plan. Sruly Meyer from Samaech music recently sent me a copy of their new Jewish wedding compilation "Siman Tov Mazel Tov." My plan was to coax the DJ at the wedding into slipping in some of the tracks. Once upon a time, my brother was going to have a klezmer band, but ended up with a DJ with 7 versions (I asked him) of Hava Nagila and not much else. Perfect, right. Even better than me reviewing the disc, I could tell you what my family and my new sister-in-law's family thought. Would they dance? Or not?

Well, the perfect plan failed. The DJ was happy to take the CD and promised me to play the tracks I suggested. But the party ran late, my kids melted, and my wife pulled the plug. We scooted back to the hotel with me hoping for a few spectators reports. None came though. Without me their to nudge, the DJ didn't play the tracks. Sigh.

Anyway, selecting tracks for the DJ gave me a good focal point for listening to the disc and got me to remember the occasion the disc was intended for. Which was good, because from my Conservative Jewish perspective, it's a bit of a strange disc. There were the requisite jazzy versions of Yiddish standards, chuppah sets and big band sets. And Israeli disco sets.

Israeli disco? Songs like Popcorn and Electric slide side by size with Sandy Shmuely's Zodiac and Ari Pollack's Chai. In full disco horns and strings glory. Frum weddings must be quite the party if this is what gets played. It was the disco set I was hoping the DJ would play from.

But it was not to be. No field test for me.

If you're looking for disc of contemporary Jewish wedding music as played in the traditional Jewish community this disc is a one-stop shop. And if you're not looking for a wedding disc, it's worth the price of the disc just to hear the Israeli disco set. Really.

Go check it out at JewishJukebox. You can hear samples of all of the tracks.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Demo track for "David in Shadow and Light"

David in Shadow and Light PosterI exchanged some email this afternoon with Daniel Hoffman, the composer of "David in Shadow and Light." Daniel sent me a .mp3 recording of a demo track for one of the David songs and the following note
"sure you can use it - as long as you include this description/disclaimer:

Blood, David
Book and Lyrics by Yehuda Hyman
Music by Daniel Hoffman
copyright 2008 Davkamusic

This a demo (and I do mean demo- Its me singing, so its a little raw) from our new musical, David in Shadow and Light. This song is sung by Goliath's head after it's been cut off. Its a curse that Goliath's head puts on David. David joins in at the end in a little Freddy Mercury moment... Its based on a midrash about how David and Goliath were cousins- their great grandmothers, Ruth and Orpah were sisters. Goliath, in this production, is a manic punk rocker with a mohawk and leather pants. Hope you enjoy and can come see the production at Theatre J."

I'm glad I got to listen to the track. The musical's pop style is not at all what I had expected and the attention to midrashic detail was fascinating. I don't know the "David and Goliath were cousins" midrash so I'm off to crack open my "Book of Legends" to read up on it. Enjoy the track everyone. And go see the show if you can.

David Krakauer's Abraham, Inc - Live at the Apollo

Abraham, Inc. concert poster
Ok, so I missed this one. It was another MMH show (many miles from here), so I wouldn't have been able to attend but what a cool line up. I saw Krakauer and Socalled here on the North Coast a while back, the addition of Fred Wesley is amazing. The Apollo website has more information and this great promo video. An album and concert DVD will be released eventually. Can't wait.

"Ever since I formed Klezmer Madness! in the mid 1990's I've been exploring the possibilities of adding funk, jazz and lately hip-hop influences to klezmer. Improvisation has always been a part of my musical landscape, but it was my embracing of klezmer music in my early 30's that gave me the opportunity to create my own style of improvising and composing within (and under the umbrella of ) the music of my own Eastern European Jewish cultural heritage. all-out klezmer-funk dance party!
These explorations logically led me to my collaboration with Socalled, a kindred spirit in the search for that magic place where a combination of klezmer, funk, jazz and hip-hop can find a commonality of ecstatic trance. In a conversation with Socalled somewhere on the road in Europe in late 2005, the name Fred Wesley came up. Fred of course is world renowned as one of the great masters of funk through his amazing trombone playing and arranging with the likes of James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Parliament Funkadelic etc., etc . I felt that collaborating with Fred would be a tremendous (and logical) next step in this musical journey that I've been on for the last ten years. Much to my delight, Mr. Wesley accepted the proposal to join this path of musical exploration. -David Krakauer"
Update: I found some additional articles on Abraham Inc, including Weekend America, PRI's The World.

Here's the Weekend America interview.

Here's the interview from The World.

For more video's, YouTube has videos of Abraham, Inc. playing "Moskowitz and Loops of It" and "Tweet Tweet"

Related Post: "I just got back from seeing David Krakauer, Socalled, and Klezmer Maddness live"

David in Shadow and Light, a new musical

David in Shadow and LightHere's quick press release for a show that looks interesting. I wonder if I'll make it down to DC in time catch the show.
(Washington, DC) — Theater J presents the world premiere of DAVID IN SHADOW AND LIGHT, a modern musical retelling of the biblical tale of King David by Yehuda Hyman and Daniel Hoffman. The show runs May 6–June 22, 2008 in the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater at the Washington DCJCC. Press night takes place Sunday, May 18 at 7:30 pm. Tuesday, May 6 and Wednesday, May 7 at 7:30 pm are Pay-What-You-Can Previews. For the extended preview period of Thursday, May 8, through Thursday, May 15, all tickets are $25. Full priced tickets range from $20 to $55 and are available at or at (800) 494-TIXS.

An epic musical of King David’s astonishing trajectory from boy shepherd to superstar ruler to aging king, as he wrestles with the lowest and the purest form of human impulses, this visually stunning production incorporates thrilling dance sequences and a post-modern frame through which the triumphs and travails of the Bible’s most charismatic character are brought to life. The earthy sexuality of the story—David’s marriage to both King Saul’s daughter Michal and his paramour Bathsheba, as well as the ardent love he shares with Saul’s son, Jonathan—combined with its portrait of blood, war and passion is at once relevant to a modern world and classically powerful. This re-envisioning is cleverly framed by two characters, the Archangel Metatron and Adam, who according to ancient midrashic legend, chance upon the infant David and are compelled to watch his life. In this musical version the story unfolds on film, the action of which plays out on stage as a live movie.

Theater J and the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity commissioned Yehuda Hyman and Daniel Hoffman to create this piece almost four years ago with the support of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Since then it has been further developed through readings and workshops in the Arlene and Robert Kogod New Play Development Program at Theater J. “Why do a show about King David now?” Artistic Director Ari Roth asks and then answers “Because he was the biggest celebrity to ever walk the face of the earth. He had the greatest gifts, the highest charisma quotient, he was wildly popular, wildly romantic, rapacious, God-fearing, flesh-loving, a bollix of contradictions—how contemporary is that?” The modern depiction uses non-traditional casting to envision a David of color: a Tiger Woods-like natural phenomenon, “the Barack Obama of the Bible,” quips Roth. King David will be played by DC native and rising New York star Matt Pearson (tick, tick…Boom! at Metro Stage, The Slug Bearers of Karol Island at the Vineyard Theatre in New York).

This stellar cast also includes some of DC’s finest musical theater performers including 2008 Helen Hayes Award Nominees Will Gartshore as Jonathan, Donna Migliaccio as the Angel Metatron, Larry Redmond as Uriah, and Bobby Smith as King Saul. “The musical,” notes Roth, “will be the biggest undertaking in Theater J’s history. We’ve workshopped the play for several years and brought together a superb team to make this incredibly well-told story come alive with relevance and immediacy.” The cast will also include Russell Sunday as Goliath, Peggy Yates as Batsheva, Norman Aronovic as Adam, Matthew Anderson as Nathan and Carolyn Agan as Michal.

Theater J Resident Director Nick Olcott and Musical Director George Fulginiti-Shakar will lead a talented creative team. Composer and world-class klezmer violinist Daniel Hoffman will head the four-piece band. Peter DiMuro, Artistic Director of The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, and Dance Exchange company member Shula Strassfeld will choreograph. Three-time 2008 Helen Hayes Award nominee, Colin Bills will light a set designed by Misha Kaufman.
Update: I was just about to email Daniel Hoffman to ask if there were any audio or video clips of David in Light and Shadow that I could share, when I realized who Daniel Hoffman is. He is none other than the band leader for one of my favorite Jewish music groups, Davka. Davka is an amazing mix of Eastern European and Middle Eastern Jewish music and chamber music. That just doubled my interest in this show. I hope I can make it. You can read a previous Teruah post about Davka here.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Do You Know The Words?

Know the WordsI was just catching up on the Life in Israel blog and caught a great pointer to a new Jewish music blog. It's called Know the Words and it wants to help us, well, know the worlds. Specifically, know the words to a repertoire of religious Hebrew language songs that get sung at traditional Jewish simchas. The lyrics are provided, many have audio clips, and lots of commentary on the spiritual qualities of the song. There's some serious work going into this blog, so I hope folks find it and take advantage if it.

For example, the author posted the song "Yamim Al Ye'mei Melech" (which, for the record, I don't know) as follows...
"יָמִים עַל יְמֵי מֶלֶךְ תּוֹסִיף, שְׁנוֹתָיו כְּמוֹ דֺר וָדֺר
Yamim al ye'mei melech tosif, sh'nosav kemo dor va'dor

"Days onto the days of the king may You add, may his years be like all generations." (Tehillim 61:7)

The Pashut explanation given by Rashi on this passuk is that Dovid Hamelech is asking Hashem that even if it has been decreed that he die young at the hand of his enemies, Hashem should remove that decree and grant him the full 70 years of every generation...."
The audio clips are turned off right now because of the Sefira period, but they'll be back up soon. I'm looking forward to it.

As an added bonus, the blog has a link to Yutopia.Yucs.Org's "Jewish Guitar Chord Archive."

Hatikvah, the World Record Singalong

Israel's 60th birthday is coming up and I hear about new celebrations almost daily now. One entertaining one is Israeli businesswoman Galia Albin's plan to break the break the Guinness world record for "Most people singing an anthem simultaneously" on May 7, 2008. If you feel like singing along, you can get information and lyrics at her website,

For signing practice here are three different (very different) renditions of Israel's national anthem. The first is the inimitable Barbara Streisand, the second is from the movie "Someone to run with", and the third is the, well, unique stylings of Francky Perez & Broadway.

Barbra Streisand Sings Hatikvah

התקווה מתוך מישהו לרוץ איתו

Francky Perez & Broadway: The Hope

Hat tip to YouTube users photonh2o and cohenronnie for the Babs video and the "Someone to run with" clip.