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March 24, 2004

On the road with Frank London and Boban Markovic

Mark Rubin, a Texas Jew held in even higher esteem in these parts than even Kinky Friedman, send the following from the road:

Hello Rubinchik List Folks,

Thought I'd share this with you all.

For the last 3 years, I've been travelling to Europe as a member of Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars, playing all over Central and even Eastern Europe.

It's been quite an amazing for me journey musically, culturally, even spiritually, not to mention physically. Our tour schedule just last year took us from Vienna to Belgrade, from Riga Latvia to the small village of Vladichin Han, just a few miles from the Serbian border with Kossovo. I just returned form a concert in Chemnitz Germany, and in June will return to Vienna, by popular demand, to open the famed Weiner Festwochen (Week of Festivals in Vienna) as well as a concert tour of Italy.

One of the highlights of my experience with this group has been our collaborations with the Boban Markovic Orchestra, Serbia's finest Gypsy Brass Band. We recorded a CD with them, "The Brotherhood of Brass" in Budapest in 2001, which was released the following year on the Pirhana label. Just last year, we recorded a track for their latest CD "Boban I Marko" in Belgrade.

That CD was featured on NPR's "The World" recently, and just in case if you missed it, I've included a link where you can hear the story as it was broadcast, including the tune we recorded with them: and old Hassidic melody given the Gypsy treatment.


I've also posted a photo diary and a written diary of our trip to Serbia, including the recording of the CD. You find even more photos from our many trips posted here as well, www.franklondon.com/photos.html.

It was quite an experience travelling Eastern Europe and Austria with Gypsies. Not always a pleasant one at times, made all the more chilling by the recent horrific treatment of the Rroma population in the Czech Republic, and news that the Austrian Government is building jails in Romania to house "Romanian criminals" (mostly Rroma) outside their own country. Anywhere that you can openly discriminate against gypsies and other "outsiders", you can be sure that Jews can expect the same treatment eventually. All I know how to combat this ignorance is to continue to return to Eastern Europe and elsewhere, identifying myself unabashedly as a Jew and attempting in my own small way as a musician to illustrate those things that bind ALL peoples together, rather than what makes us different. I invite you to visit this site with links to Roma Rights organizations.

Shabbat shalom, and best to you!


March 23, 2004

Watts CD release party a smash

album coverPete Rushefsky attended the CD release party for one of the most-talked about (and sought) CDs in recent months, the killer disk by the mother-daughter klezmer power house of Elaine Hoffman Watts and Susan Watts. They are joined by friends such as Frank London, David Licht, Rachel Lemisch (another severalth generation Philly klezmer). Since Pete's review includes the vital "how do I get my own copy" info, I am posting it here. My own copy has just arrived, and I am salivating. More soon.

I had the pleasure of attending the CD release party for "I Remember Klezmer" hosted by Elaine & Susan Hoffman Watt's band The Fabulous Shpilkies in Philly last weekend. The venue (The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA) was absolutely packed with a few hundred revelers. The Shpilkies played a terrifically spirited set of traditional Philly (and Hoffman family) klezmer and vocal tunes sung by Susan in her amazing Yiddish/Jazz style.

Then Susan started inviting her friends on stage... and then the band headed out into the audience as tables were pushed aside for dancing...

A lot of klezmer luminaries were to be found there, including... Shpilke Trombonist Rachel Lemisch, Writer/Critic Elliott Simon and his daughter/Clarinetist Jill Simon, Harmonicist/Pianist Jason Rosenblatt (of Shtreiml fame), Mandolinist/Musicologist Craig Harwood (Amherst College), Flautist Daniella Cohen (formerly of Yale Klezmer Band), Violinist Illana Sherer (formerly of Brown's Klezmer band), many of the Klez Dispensers (Clarinetist Alex Kontorovich, Trupeter Ben Holmes, Violinist Amy Zakar, and Pianist Adrian Banner), Robert and Molly Friedman (of the Robert and Molly Friedman Jewish Music Archive at the University of Pennsylvania). There were many other representatives of the venerable Lemisch and Hoffman families (both renowned klezmer dynasties). I'm sure I must've missed a few as well-- it was quite a crowd.

Here's the information Susan Hoffman Watts sent me on ordering the CD featuring her and her mother Elaine Hoffman Watts entitled "I Remember Klezmer."

I think if you were to write a check to Susan Watts that would be fine...

The CD will be available from CDbaby.com or by sending $15.00 and a bissle for shipping to:

I Remember Klezmer
C/O Watts
832 Beechwood Rd.
Havertown, PA 19083
E-mail Susan Watts Hoffman.

Folkways Jewish Recordings Now on CD

Simon, from Hatikvah Music in LA, posts this to the Jewish-Music list:

After much prodding, we have negotiated with the Smithsonian to let us distribute their Jewish music collection on the Folkways label on Compact Disc! Until now, you had to order them directly for a custom disc at a much higher price.

Since these are not produced in mass, they will custom produce them for us in generic packaging, however all CDs will include the original inserts that were included with the original records when Folkways was owned by Moses Asch.

We just received 44 different titles from the collection including the entire catalog of Yiddish recordings--songs as well as readings and poetry--all the Ruth Rubin, Mark Olf, Chassidic, Raashe, Geula Gill/Ornim Zabar, Hillel & Aviva, Sephardic/Ladino, cantorial (including a David Kousseviztky recording) and other miscellaneous Folkways titles.

For the Passover collector, there are two CDs available from this collection:

  1. "Yemenite Passover," recorded in a Yemenite home in 1953.
  2. "Chad Gadya" a collection of the many interpretations of this piece from the various tradition Included are various interrelations in Yiddish, Aramaic, Italian, Russian, Greek, Ladino, Arabic, and more.

Unfortunately, it will be a while before we can get these up on our web site, however for those familiar with the Folkways catalog, please feel free to PHONE me at 323) 655-7083 to place your orders or for any further information.

Thank You
Hatikvah Music
(323) 655-7083