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Seth Rogovoy on "What the Klezmer Revival can teach Sephardic Music"

In this week's Forward (Feb. 21): "What the Klezmer Revival can teach Sephardic music", by Seth Rogovoy. Yes, I've already talked about the inane Forward "you must register or else" web viewing style, today.

But, here's the thing. Do make the effort to read the article. Do you agree with Seth? Does his article account for the fact that Klezmer no longer seems to be the hip form (at least, not to the young, hip set - by me, and I presume by Seth, we're still excited), and harder to book? Is there a different path Sephardic music fans could take, or are taking, or should fans worry about the music's popularity or familiarity among the non-cognoscenti in the first place? (trying not to give away too much that is in the article - if you post a comment, do make sure that you have read what Seth had to say first.

Some quibbles for those who have read the article: First, without arguing for a minute against the fact that Golem do a dynamite version of "Ocho Kandelikos" (after seeing them live this December they are firmly on my "never miss a chance to see" list), writing pilpul to try to prove that a Bosnian song written in Ladino could properly be considered "Eastern European" is a bit of, well, pilpul. Second, I do want to note that I recently had an e-mail conversation with singer/researcher Judith Cohen about the music of Sarah Aroeste. Both Cohen and I are big fans of Aroeste, so it was odd to read him contrast the two singers' work (one traditional, one not) as though they might be at odds. And finally, while advice is being offered on how to make Sephardic music more successful than klezmer, it should be noted that Sephardic music significantly outsells klezmer in Judaica shops. The explosive Sephardic music scene in Israel (and the spin-offs into rock, hip hop, and dance music) is also worth noting.

Having said all of that, as I said, Rogovoy has excellent points to make and I thank him for writing the article.


Sam Weiss noted this interesting article in the same issue of the Forward:

"Sephardic Arts and Culture: A Dialogue."
"Sephardism" at times can be an elusive quantity for many of us (myself included). Although this dialogue doesn't provide definitive answers, it does clarify the contours of confusion from the standpoint of some "native" cultural artists, which I found illuminating.
Here's the link:

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