Daniel Kahn and Painted Bird bridge generations in Boston
Judy and I have been out every night for days. The Boston Jewish Music Festival is that good. Last night was my first opportunity to see the current incarnation of "The Painted Bird" and my first opportunity to visit Jamaica's "Milky Way Lounge" in its new setting. Major success all around.
For those who don't know Kahn's work, think of a cross between Brecht and badchaness—wonderful, topical rock, folk, cabaret songs about the (generally, ill) state of the world with facile, pointed lyrics, in Yiddish and English, backed up by a talented rhythm team (Michael Tuttle on bass and Hampus Melin on drums) and the always-scintillating Jake Shulmen-Ment on violin. At times you think of a young Leonard Cohen, but less caught in the glare of his love life and more caught up in the ways in which we live together as a society. Other times, I could clearly hear the influences of bands such as the Pogues, whom Kahn cited at dinner preceding the concert as among his influences.
One aspect of the concert that I especially enjoyed was the mix of the expected younger attendees with a large group of older yiddishists. All of us seemed to be having a good time.
Kahn is touring to support his most recent CD, Bad Old Songs, featuring the Brechtian "Good Old Bad Old Days," Leonard Cohen's "Story of Isaac" and much more. If you are lucky enough to be in NYC, you can catch him on tour starting Saturday night in Ithaca, NY, and on Monday night at the Grammercy Theatre; thence off to the left coast.