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August 31, 2004

Charming Hostess charms, blows us all away

picture of the band, singingCambridge's Zeitgeist is a small gallery/performance space, but it was packed last night with a crowd that new Charming Hostess' work well, and responded enthusiastically to the power and amazing grace of the performance. Imagine, if you will, a cross between Sweet Honey in the Rock and Bulgarian village music, or Zap Mama crossed with avant garde: three incredibly powerful, incredibly sweet voices singing everything from gospel to Sephardic song to non-poetic texts set to stirring, harmonic music.

The new material from the forthcoming "Sarajevo Blues" album was exceptionally beautiful. Bandleader Jewlia Eisenberg (in her full-time life a Jewish educator in San Francisco) met Bosnian poet Sem Mehmedinovic who had written about being in Sarajevo during the siege by Bosnians. Having been in the city only months after the siege ended I could visualize the world created by the poems perhaps a bit better than most. In one song, the poet writes of ducking behind a building to avoid getting shot by a sniper and running into a photographer who was undoubtedly hoping that he, the poet, would have been killed so that the poet could publish the sad picture and make lots of money. In another, the poet writes of the flies who are everywhere, since the windows which would have kept them out of the house are long broken by the bombardments.

But now, imagine these poems set to incredibly rich music, sung by three incredibly strong, beautiful voices who harmonize perfectly. Then you start to hear what we heard. As they sang, the singer's faces glowed (partly, granted, because it was very hot and they were very sweaty) and their faces smiled, as though singing was what mattered most.

Among other material, the band also performed a couple of songs from "Trilectic," an album comprised of selections from the Moscow diaries of Walter Benjamin and his lover Asja Lacis. Although I was excited by the album at the time, I can't say that I got it until I watched and heard the band perform some songs live.

But, that's the summary. Charming Hostess is like a van de graf generator encountering ideas and poetry and traditional music and coming out with an amazingly energetic and beautiful show. If I could, I'd take off and follow the tour like a Deadhead. If you're in Burlington, VT, or Northampton, MA, be sure to catch them. And stay tuned for the new album, "Sarajevo Blues", due out in October(?).

August 30, 2004

What a KlezKanada!

Pete Rushefsky, Michael Winograd, and Dan Blacksberg at KlezKanada cabaretI am back from KlezKanada, my first time as a staff person, and will be very slowly catching up and writing about it.

There was no internet access (temporary problem at the site—apparently not a usual situation) so I gloried in no email, no weblog—just klezmer and friends and yiddishkeit old and new 24 hours a day non-stop. Because there was no internet access, I'll be posting the "KlezKanada weblog" on a one-week delay, starting today/tonight (except that tonight, in real time, I must catch Charming Hostess in Cambridge, come hell or high water!). Bob Blacksberg has put up some preliminary photos, and I'll be using those since my photo skills, as we all know, are less than salutory. Here is one he took of Pete Rushefsky, Michael Winograd, and Dan Blacksberg at the cabaret the first night.

Trying to put a jumble of thoughts and impressions in some order is difficult, but my overwhelming feeling is how much fun I had, how many people I met that I enjoyed meeting, the incredible lectures/workshops I saw/participated in (and Judy and I gave, if I may say so), and over all, how much incredible music I heard—mostly klezmer, it's true (which is a good thing!), but the diversity of klezmer, and the incredible new Jewish music, and new music, period, was overwhelming. I'm not sure how I'm going to muster the will to go to Ashkenaz this week. After being inside the music for a week, spectating, even if I take one of Helen Winkler's dance classes or the like, won't be the same. I can't wait to go back next year and do it all over again.

August 20, 2004

Ashkenaz Festival Schedule complete

Ashkenaz: A Festival of new Yiddish Culture 2004 features outstanding international artists from widely disparate parts of the world, including Ethiopia's Yossi Vassa, France's Les Yeux Noirs, South America's Klezmer en Buenos Aires and Holland's Ot Azoj. Over the past decade, Toronto's Ashkenaz festival has become the greatest and most widely attended North American event celebrating the contemporary Yiddish cultural revival. Highlighting the theme of migration, Ashkenaz 2004 features a startling mixture of performances showcasing rich traditions moving in joyful new directions.

A festival schedule is now available online at www.ashkenazfestival.org

Festivities begin August 31, culminating in a bustling weekend of music, dance, theatre, film, visual arts, literature, lectures and storytelling at Harbourfront Centre, from sundown Saturday September 4 through Monday September 6, 2004. Many events are free. For tickets and information, call 416-973-4000. Complete festival details are available at www.ashkenazfestival.com and www.harbourfrontcentre.com.

The Klezmatics bring their soul-stirring Jewish roots music to Toronto for the first time in over five years. These renowned performers present a free stunning open-air concert at Harbourfront Centre's CIBC Stage on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 9:30 p.m.. The Klezmatics' rousing performance is part of Ashkenaz' spectacular post-Shabbes (Sabbath) evening, which starts with an uplifting, artistic and musical Havdallah ceremony at the Toronto Star Stage.

Klezmer en Buenos Aires helps kick off the Ashkenaz Festival week, with the extraordinary clarinet and accordion talents of César Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky, Thursday, September 2 at 8 p.m. at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Ave,Toronto. The group returns with special musical guests on Sunday, September 5 at 7 p.m. at Harbourfront Centre's Brigantine Room. Tickets for each concert are $36.

Prolific, multi-talented, Montreal-born pianist Marilyn Lerner presents the world premiere of her original score to the silent Yiddish film East and West, which stars Molly Picon (Fiddler on the Roof) in her first film, on Wednesday, September 1 at 8 p.m. at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre and Sunday September 5 at 2 p.m. at Harboufront Center's Studio Theatre. On Monday, September 6 at 5 p.m., Klezmer en Buenos Aires presents their musical version of the comedy classic film. Tickets are $18 for each performance.

Several important Toronto premieres, including many free performances light up Labour Day weekend, September 4-6 at Harbourfront Centre.

The Yiddish Radio Hour resurrects the classics of Yiddish radio from the 1930s to '50s. With a new radio program and theatre performance, Ashkenaz celebrates the forgotten geniuses and important recordings of this often overlooked chapter of the Canadian experience. The Yiddish Radio Hour can be seen and heard at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday September 5 and at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, September 6. Tickets are $15.

Yossi Vassa, "the Eddie Murphy of Israel," opens a window on the experiences of immigrants to Israel with his moving and often hilarious personal account of his 700-kilometer journey on foot from Ethiopia to the Holy Land, It Sounds Better in Amharic, 8:00 p.m., Saturday September 4, and Sunday, September 5, at Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre. Tickets are $15.

From Holland, Festival Mundial favourites Ot Azoj break onto the North American stage with their artful blend of old-time Klezmer, contemporary Eastern European folk music and the Klezmer revival sound for a heartwarming experience that is at once energetic, melancholic and joyous. Concert takes place at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, September 4 on the CIBC Stage at Harbourfront Centre.

From the vanguard of klezmer to their Canadian premiere at Ashkenaz, Berlin duo Khupe's (Christian Dawid and Sanne Möricke) intense musical dialogue defies paradoxes with improvisation and innovation that remains true to Klezmer's roots. Concert takes place at 9:30 p.m., Sunday, September 5, and 2:15 p.m., Monday, September 6 at on the CIBC Stage at Harbourfront Centre.

French-Canadian 8-member band Manouche pushes the envelope with sexy, energetic, contemporary renditions of old Yiddish standards at 5:30 p.m., Sunday, September 5, at Harbourfront Centre's Toronto Star Stage. They are part of a contingent of Quebec performers at the festival, which also includes the harmonica styling of Shtreiml and the unique cabaret performer Jeszce Raz. Concluding a quintet of French oriented musicians at Ashkenaz are the brilliant players in France's premiere klezmer group Les Yeux Noirs.

Ashkenaz: A Festival of New Yiddish Culture will feature a jam-packed weekend of film, theatre, literature, lectures and storytelling as well as music. Film buffs will be entertained by the Toronto premiere of Yiddishist and documentarian Yale Strom’s latest feature Klezmer on Fish Street. 1936's French-Czech cult film, The Golem, the hilarious Catskill Honeymoon, and the Edgar Ulmer and Moishe Oysher melodrama The Singing Blacksmith (Yankel Dem Schmidt) anchor the film program with classics. Rafael Goldwaser presents his one man theatrical show, S'brent, It Burns while David Buchbinder's Feast of the East dance party gets Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room hopping. Kids and Yiddish returns with Farmisht and Far-fetched!, a spectacular multi-media initiation into a world of Yiddish language and culture. And not to be missed, the Ashkenaz Festival Parade will transport families around a Harbourfront Centre magically transformed by hundreds of artists and musicians.

For more information about all performances, call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com and www.ashkenazfestival.com.

The Yiddish Voice — Boston Yiddish Radio Show's Tenth Year

Celebrating Cohost Hasia Segal's 90th Birthday
Team's 13th Year of Yiddish Radio

The Yiddish Voice, a Yiddish-language weekly radio show heard in Boston and on the Internet, is pleased to announce it has now completed ten years of broadcasting. The show is heard on WUNR 1600 AM in the Boston area every Wednesday evening from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

The show features music, poetry, comedy, interviews, news, commentary, and announcements of current events, all of it in the Yiddish language.

The show's host and producer Mark David stated, "On the occasion of ten years of The Yiddish Voice, I'd really like to thank first and foremost my cohost Hasia Segal for giving so much of her talent to our show. She has talents as a humorist, a wonderful speaker, and a fine interviewer. She draws on her great depth of knowledge of both Hebrew and Yiddish language and culture. Her experience of having lived through heyday of Yiddish culture, as a young woman in interwar Lithuania, has brought many interesting contacts and much interesting experience she has generously shared with us, and lends a special stamp of authenticity to our broadcast. I'd also like to extend warmest wishes to Hasia on the occasion of her reaching her 90th year, as we say 'alevay biz hundert un tsvantsik', with hopefully many more productive years ahead on the radio. I'd also like to thank the many other volunteers who have helped produce and/or host the show. Thanks, of course, to the many guests over the years; they are the living voices of the 'Yidishe Gas' (the Yiddish/Jewish world) that make our show unique. And I especially want to thank those listeners, and even some 'fans' who've only heard about us through the Internet, who have voiced so much encouragement and guidance over the years. Finally, thanks to our supporters, including individuals, businesses, and foundations, who've given the financial support necessary to make this venture function."

On the question of plans for the future, David continued, "We would like to recruit new volunteers to help to do the show. In this regard, I am particularly excited to welcome Iosif Lakhman, a writer for the Yiddish and Russian Forward newspapers, as a cohost. He's just recently begun this role, and his voice will be a very welcome addition. We also hope to continue to create and air great radio segments, especially through new guest interviews. In addition, we plan a project to better organize our rather vast archive of exclusive recordings, especially interviews, to make the "catalogue" more complete and up-to-date, and ultimately with a goal to make copies of most of the recordings available via the Internet, on tape, and CD."

The Yiddish Voice (known, in Yiddish, as 'Dos Yidishe Kol') was founded by the team of host/producer Mark David and cohost Hasia Segal. The team actually marks its 13th year of producing Yiddish radio in Boston this year: this same team created another all-Yiddish Boston radio show, The Yiddish Hour, in 1991. That show was, and is to this day, broadcast on WBRS 100 FM/Waltham, a non-commercial station.

The Yiddish Voice, the "new" show, was "spun off", so to speak, from The Yiddish Hour in 1994. The primary goal of this spinoff was to overcome the number one "complaint" about the old show: lack of reception. By operating on a 5,000 Watt commercial AM station, The Yiddish Voice reaches all of the Metro Boston area, whereas the old show was only heard in Waltham and surrounding towns, on FM.

In recent years, in addition to reaching a wider Boston audience through the higher powered airwaves of WUNR 1600/AM, the Yiddish Voice has been reaching a worldwide audience through live Internet audio streaming of its weekly program, and on-demand streaming of select excerpts of past programs. The audio streaming link is available from the show's web site:


The Yiddish Voice operates on a not-for-profit basis. Originally, it sought financial support in the form of advertising, grants, and donations to cover such costs as station airtime, equipment, records and tapes, and promotional materials. In addition, in recent years, the show has expanded its operations to include an associated "Yiddish Voice Store" web site (http://www.yiddishstore.com/">www.yiddishstore.com), which sells Yiddish-related items, including books, music, videos, and software, with all profits used to support the radio show.

The all-volunteer staff of the Yiddish Voice includes Mark David, the show's producer and regular host, and Hasia Segal, a native of Lithuania, who, as cohost, continues to offer frequent special presentations and exclusive interviews of important personalities.

Numerous other contributors have provided features over the years. These have included Miriam Libenson, Dovid Braun, Rhoda Bernard, Betty Silberman, Norman Miller, Zalman Srebro, and Iosif Lakhman, as well as the late Manya Web and Cantor Simon Kandler.

The show has produced a great many original and exclusive radio segments, including Jewish holiday specials, poetry recitals, live and recorded musical performances, and interviews. Interviews have been done on a wide variety of topics, with greater and lesser known Yiddish-speaking personalities from a wide variety of fields. The names and descriptions of interviews are too numerous to begin to list here. A lengthy, but partial, list of past interviews is available online at the show's web site.

For further information:

Mark David
The Yiddish Voice
PO Box 313
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 730-8484
Fax: (617) 249-0141

Spammers and the KlezmerShack listings

For a couple of years I have watched, in frustration, as spammers get faster and faster at picking off new e-mail addresses from new listings here on the KlezmerShack. Some people have been delisted, at their request, but the damage is pretty much done—it means coming up with a new e-mail address and implementing (usually) the temporarily-effective anti-spam-reading measures on local websites.

I have been working on a database-backed solution to this problem: I need to record working e-mail addresses, and am in the middle of converting all of the listings to a database format for sanity (and some expanded fetures). One feature, of course, is that it will no longer be possible to discover what someone's e-mail address is (although it will be easy to e-mail them from this site.) The scripts aren't done, and now won't be done until after KlezKanada.

Until the new system is enough in place to enable me to get new listings in, I will not be adding new listings (or changes) to the current system. If spammers have your old e-mail address, I can't help. But I can keep new addresses out of their hands.

This has actually been true for a few weeks, but it occurs to me that I should at least let people know what is going on.

One reality of maintaining a large, complex website in your spare time is that if you don't have much spare time, even important things can take time.

I apologize to all for the problem, and for the delay in implementing a solution.