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January 28, 2017

Yiddish Summer Weimar July 15–Aug 12

The program is announced. Get ready.

"Every summer, people of all ages from near and far come to Weimar to experience our inspiring program of workshops, concerts, dances, jam sessions and much, much more. You can come for a brief visit to hear a concert, join a jam session, dance or mini-workshop, or stay for as long as a month and immerse yourself in our unique, interdisciplinary program."

"Yiddish culture is world culture. It has many deep and surprising connections to other cultures of Europe, the Middle East, North and South America and beyond. Each year, we explore some of these connections. In 2017, our special topic is "The Other Israel: Seeing Unseen Diasporas." Israel today is home to a kaleidoscope of cultures from around the world. Yiddish culture is only one of these, alongside Iraqi, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Russian, and many others. This year, we will be introduced to this amazing and complex intercultural matrix, guided by some of the renowned artists and teachers who live inside it."


January 24, 2017

Registration open for 28th North American Jewish Choir Festival, to be held July 16-20, 2017, Catskills, NY

North American Jewish Choir Festival

July 16–20, 2017
Hudson Valley Resort and Spa,
400 Granite Road
Kerhonkson NY 12446

* Instant Choirs for All Singers
* Daily Community Sings
* Workshops Galore
* Outstanding Performers
* Opportunities

This Summer Also Features a

* Learn Contemporary and Traditional Synagogue Classics
* Improve Your Skills
* Bring New Inspiration to Next Year's Holidays

More information
Fellowship applications

January 19, 2017

Local singer brings to life cross-dressing Yiddish vaudevillian

Bay area folks may enjoy this article about Jeanette Lewicki and tonight's performance, "Comedienne in a Hasid's Pants: Pepi Litman."

Local singer brings to life cross-dressing Yiddish vaudevillian, Hannah Rubin, Jan 12, 2017, J Weekly

epi Litman may have been born in the 1800s, but from reading the details of her life, you wouldn't know it. A cross-dressing performer with undeniable Yiddish swagger, Litman toured Eastern Europe with her vaudeville theater troupe, singing songs about politics, archaic religious traditions and the death of bureaucracy.… [more]

The Lost Vault of Klezmer

This was posted last month, but it's a great story involving Michael Aylward and Joel Rubin. Enjoy!

The Lost Vault of Klezmer

Recently, after almost a decade of sleuthing, a rogue British hobbyist and one of the greatest living klezmer musicians uncovered a lost trove of vinyl records from the earliest days of the Jewish music industry. This week, we follow in their footsteps and revise musical history. We talk to the discoverers of klezmer's "lost vault", Michael Aylward and Joel Rubin, and we take a look at how the American working class fell out of love with opera. Plus, we indulge in some happy memories of holiday music.

You can help fund new Mark Rubin recording, "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter"

I try to find ways to explain what little I understand about Mark Rubin's music, but most tend to distract. He's been the linchpin of several Klezmer ensembles—that's how I first encountered him. But, he's also been the linchpin of a host of Americana bands, from Texas polka to bluegrass. He plays honest music astonishingly well, and he takes no bullshit from fellow musicians, so the whole damn thing tends to sound astonishingly well. An Ashkenaz performance where he played bass with Andy Statman (the always excellent Larry Eagle was on drums) remains one of my peak Andy Statman performances (and for that matter, a peak Ashkenaz concert). His first solo recording, "Southern Discomfort" featured his uncomfortable take on Leo Frank and other misfortunes, as well as some very fine picking. His appearance at the most recent Ashkenaz was wonderful, although I got a sense that people were looking for something a bit more … safe. By "safe," of course, I don't mean that this is avant garde music, but that it comes with the sort of chip on your shoulder you get when you are used to being the only Jew in a crowd of mostly non-Jewish folks full of their own tribal identities. I'd compare him to Kinky Friedman, but other than being Jewish and being associated with Texas, I'm not sure there is much else in common—although it is easy to compare "The Murder of Leo Frank" with "Ride 'em Jewboy" and "They don't make Jews like Jesus anymore."

Too many words. There is a new Mark Rubin recording coming. You can help make it happen:

GoFundMe for "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter"

January 18, 2017

Koukias brings opera "Before the Flame Goes Out" to Hobart

This came from a post by a friend on The WELL. Sounds fascinating:

Koukias brings opera "Before the Flame Goes Out" to Hobart, by Matthew Westwood, The Australian, January 14, 2017

"… [H]is new multimedia concert piece, Before the Flame Goes Out, will be performed at Hobart Town Hall this month and Koukias is thrilled that it will have its premiere in his home town. [Th]e piece is about a region of northwestern Greece that was the land of his forebears: a place of hard light and mountainous beauty, of religious and cultural diversity, and with a terrible episode in its history. Ioannina was home to the Romaniote community of Hellenic Jews: people with their own religious customs and a distinctive Greek-Hebrew dialect. They are said to have lived and worshipped in Ioannina since the 9th century, possibly earlier, and endured under a long sequence of Byzantine, Norman and Ottoman rulers, and then the Greek kingdom.…

The unexpected smash success of Jewish bluegrass music - Forward, 12-Jan-17

This one was captured by Margot Leverett, leader of the Klezmer Mountain Boys. Not sure the headline writer knows the difference between "blues" and "bluegrass", so think of this as a paean to Jewish "Americana" music. But, don't let the headline put you off—good article:

The Unexpected Smash Success of Jewish Bluegrass Music, by Gabe Friedman, January 12, 2017, The Forward

Saul Kaye never wanted to be a "Jewish blues" player. In his opinion, the Jewish music he had heard growing up in Northern California's Bay Area ranged from "really bad to horrible." In 2009, he was touring as a rock musician, playing hundreds of shows a year with various bands at bars and clubs. And though he had never been very religious, he experienced a bad breakup and felt the need to do something spiritually "radical." …[more]