" /> the KlezmerShack: July 2008 Archives

« June 2008 | Main | August 2008 »

July 18, 2008

Steven Greenman+Walt Mahovlich, Cambridge, MA, Aug 4, 2008

Steven GreenmanIt's confirmed! Steven Greenman (violin) and Walt "Vlado" Mahovlich (clarinet) will be in the Boston area in about two weeks to play some freaking amazing Eastern European music. We rushed to find a venue and managed to rent the Lily Pad 7pm, Aug 4. Now to fill it!

The duo, 2/5 of the Cleveland world music band, Harmonia (as well as members of the original Budowitz) will be playing a wild array of Eastern European folk music: balkan, Rom, klezmer.

Walt MahovlichBoston Balkan music fans will know Walt from his many appearances at Balkan night. Steven, of course, is renowned for his Eastern European klezmer roots recording with Zev Feldman, Khevrisa, as well as his more recent, and stunning release, Stempenyu's Dream.

This is likely to be the most fun you can have on a week night any time soon. I intend to bring my copy of the Shalom Aleichem story after which Steven named his band for autographing ;-). Do please help spread the word.

July 10, 2008

Bob Cohen salutes the "others"

If you've been paying attention, you know that Alan Bern has set up a wonderful project with Jewish and Rom musicians as part of his Yiddish Summer Weimar project. They did a preview at the Krakow festival, and you'll get a chance to hear them in Vienna, then at Yiddish Summer Weimar, itself. Bob has been doing this sort of fusion most of his life, of course. Among my fondest memories of wandering in Eastern Europe in 1996 was listening to Bob and Josh Horowitz talk about meeting and playing with musicians, Jewish, Rom, and otherwise, throughout eastern Europe. This week, spurred by the Weimar project, Bob pays homage to some of his teachers:

Jews and Gypsies: The "Others" in European Music

New JTA column by "virtually Jewish" Ruth E. Gruber

Kinky Friedman, photo: Ruth Ellen GruberHey, I got it on the grapevine by reading the original Rootless Cosmopolitan, that writer Ruth Ellen Gruber has a new column, on the JTA website. To help confuse the perplexed, this, too, is called "Rootless Cosmopolitan."

What I find very interesting is that, for the first subject of her new column, Gruber touches on Texas country music icon, Kinky Friedman. Heh. It was only a few decades ago that I was starting a multi-lingual newspaper in Jerusalem. I needed an editorial. So, as the October War changed history around me, my first published newspaper column was on, um, Kinky Friedman and how the Israeli Knesset would react if he carried out his threat to concertise in Israel.

Gruber has far more interesting things to say as she discourses on "From klezmer to country: Linking the soundtracks". Check it out!

On the LadinoBus with Judith Cohen in Turkey

Judith Cohen writes to the Jewish-Music list about her travels.

on the bushi, well, it wasn't called LadinoBus, but that's what it was—I'm just back in Madrid from a couple of weeks hanging out on a bus careening through Turkey with a bunch of Sephardim mostly in their 70s and 80s, speaking Ladino (which is what most of them have resignedly taking to calling it these days; it isn't what any of them said at home) and visiting the cities they or their parents were born in; then a week in Bulgaria mostly with Sephardim as well, in their case mostly resisting the use of the term "Ladino" ("we don't care what they've decided in Turkey or Israel; Ladino isn't what is spoken"). I was on the Turkey trip as a sort of domesticated ethnomusicologist, and it was quite fascinating to see what memories of songs (and stories, recipes, proverbs etc ) the trip stirred up, between the places themselves, the interaction with others on the bus, and the interaction with Sephardim who had stayed in these cities all along.…

Photos of the trip are available on Flickr

I was trying to get past the usual Top Ten Sephardic Hits, which of course they all knew (either from home or, more often, from Yehoram Gaon and other recordings) and see/hear what they remembered of the older repertoire, if not to sing themselves (almost none could) then at least to comment on. The idea was to speak (Ladino, Judeo-Spanish, spaniol, djudezmo, djidio, whatever) all the time, and mostly we did, though English, French, Turkish and Hebrew, depending on the circumstances and the people, crept in. I played percussion for Izzet Bana's children's choir and adult choir in Istanbul, also taught quite a few songs on hours on the bus. In Bulgaria I was vastly amused when a small group of Sephardim in their late 70s and 80s put on a skit making fun of Bulgarian villagers and village dancing, then said they were too tired to sing, but when the sound technician put on some Bulgarian village dance music as he was packing up, they started dancing an energetic 9/8 ... (and I ended up leading the dance; they hadn't realized I also knew Balkan singing and dancing.)

Anyway, I haven't time to write a full account of all this but it was on the one hand, a great experience, both personally and professionally, and on the other hand, very sad to see how very very little of the old repertoire and singing style remains, even in people's memories, for various historical and social reasons, but also for reasons of the ubiquity of commercial recordings with the same dozen or so songs, most with largely Western European-style melodies, from the beginning of the 20th century. As an ethnomusicologist I'm just supposed to—well, you know, record, do fieldwork, think about it, deconstruct, deconstruct some more, make sure I'm not being, like, post-colonial or anything like that, then publish something, dust off my hands and go on to the next project. But being me, I just want the old songs and singing style back.


(A month earlier I was in Prague at a conference coinciding with the Roma festival, and was disturbed, to say the least, by the fact that there we were, a bunch of us, sitting around solemnly and multisyllabically going on about the Music and the Construction of Roma Identity etc etc while the Roma were out there constructing their musical identity—or rather, singing, playing, dancing and making a living.…)

Photos of the trip are available on Flickr

July 8, 2008

Paper Bridge fest starts today in Amherst, MA at NYBC

paper bridge logoStarting today, and continuing through July 17th, the place to be is on the campus of Hampshire College at the National Yiddish Book Center, for their Paper Bridge Festival. We're talking lectures, dance, music, discussions—an incredible gathering to get a sense of Yiddish culture today. Featured performers/bands include Eleanor Reissa (tonight!), a super-group featuring Hankus Netsky, Michael Alpert, and stars from Eastern Europe, the Ribs and Brisket Revue, Hank Sapoznik and the Youngers of Zion, SoCalled, and Margot Leverett. Oh, and did I mention that most of these folks will be holding workshops, and that Jeffrey Sandler will be doing some amazing stuff, as will be the infamous Michael Wex? They'll even be showing movies and TV—they'll even be playing a movie produced by my own Jewish Women's Archive, the festival-award-winning Making Trouble, about six ground-breaking (and very funny) Jewish women comedians.

Get the whole scoop at www.bikher.org/+calendar#2008-07-06

July 7, 2008

Leon Blank, z"l

Leon Blank with partner Edith Haglund in Dalarna, 2006. Photo Roland EngvallFrom Ruth Schwartz, on the Jewish-Music mailing list: To all listers who knew him: Leon Blank passed away last Friday, the funeral will be on Tuesday in Stockholm.

From Leon Blank's website, www.klezmer.se:

"I grew up in Poland in a Jewish family with Yiddish as my parents main language, which means that I have a good passive knowledge of Yiddish but I was not interested in learning to speak it when I was a youngster. Even while attending the Jewish primary school as a boy, my contact with Jewish literature was through the Polish language. As a teenager I attended many summer camps organized by the Jewish Cultural Association in Poland. We sang Yiddish songs, danced around the camp-fire, and felt that we could be ourselves as young Jews, for a time. … In the middle of 1960s, I came to Sweden and wanted to continue my competition dances but found it difficult to find a partner. So I started with folk dances, both Swedish and international.… I met the American group Klezmorim at a folk music festival in Falun, Sweden, some seventeen years ago. It was like a spark igniting! I realized that this was my music.… I have started giving workshops in traditional Jewish dances for interested dance-instructors in Sweden. In the year 2000 I have started the Swedish Klezmer Association.… [More]

For dance videos, see his website, www.klezmer.se/dance_videos.htm

Leon Blank poster from Klezmore AustriaFrom Leon Balaban: I'm very saddened to hear that Leon Blank died. I met him at the Ashkenaz festival 2006 in Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. We talked (in Polish) about dance and music and particularly the revival of Yiddish dance. Here is a video of Leon Blank ז"ל doing what he knew best: video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8915545871081725907

From Sylvia Schildt: "What sad news. Met him at Klezkamp several times. He was a lovely man and a master Yiddish dance teacher. He should have had more recognition on the global Yiddish music scene."

From Roberta Levine: "What a sweet, sweet man."

From Michal Borzykowski: "Koved zayn ondenk. Un zol er hobn a likhtikn ganeydn."

July 6, 2008

Catching up: Michael Winograd Ensemble at NYBC

It was mother's day. In our family, that meant an opportunity to gather the youngest son and travel out to the National Yiddish Book Center, where this year, the featured band was Michael Winograd's Klezmer Ensemble. The weather was perfect. In fact, it was tempting to sit out in the orchard and watch the birds, enjoy the sun. But, inside we went.

CD coverIt was my first chance to hear Winograd perform material from his latest CD, Bessarabian Hop. For the occasion he also brought in a singer from New York City, a cantor named Judith Berkson. Amazing voice. As was the case with Winograd's earlier band, Khevre, the songs he chose are newer ones, not the usual golden oldies. We started off with Josh Waletzky's "tantsn kales" (Brides are Dancing). By the time the afternoon was over, my notes show songs by Arkady Gendler and Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, as well. As Winograd said about Gottesman (which could have been applied to any of the material), "wicked in a good way, if you know what I mean."

The music was superb. Patrick Farrell's accordion went from Irish to French to New Orleans in seconds. It's rare to see musicians having as much fun playing such complex, sometimes serious music. We also got the real test. Would an audience consisting primarily of older people dig the new stuff? I guess so. In the middle of one of Winograd's introductions, one visitor exclaimed that he had to bring the band to her town, Saratoga Springs. And, at the conclusion of the concert as we drifted out, with the band, to enjoy the sunshine, it appeared as though almost everyone in attendance had lined up to purchase a CD. (It's an excellent CD, by the way. And, I forgot, the reason I bring all of this up months later is to announce that I finally have a simple review of the CD up, myself, to help spread the word. "Bessarabian Hop." It's the new dance/CD craze and a must-have.

Washington Post Columnist Starts Jewish Music Project

This came out a couple of months ago, but shouldn't get lost just because I had no chance to go through mail then ;-)

Post Columnist Starts Jewish Music Project, by Ezra Glinter, The Forward, Thu. Mar 20, 2008

Charles Krauthammer knows his way around the written word. But next month, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and his wife, artist Robyn Krauthammer, will unveil a project devoted to the music note. Pro Musica Hebraica, a new Washington-based organization spearheaded by the couple, will be devoted to highlighting historically neglected works of Jewish art music as well as commissioning new works.

more …

Beltz - Vira Lozinsky with Raanana Symphonette Orchestra

Here is a link to video of me singing "Beltz" during the homage concert to Leopold Kozlowski (the "Last Klezmer of Galicia") with Raanana Symphonette Orchestra.

Raanana, Israel , 08 October 2007
Vira Lozinsky

More video from Krakow

Bob Blacksberg, talented photographer and proud parent of world-famous trombonist Dan Blacksberg (who appears in the "Other Europeans" video) writes:

The Festival has now posted segments from several of the performances at www.dni-kultury-zydowskiej.info/en_main.html. The "Next" icon in the Windows Media Player applet will cycle through the segments, which each run about 5 minutes. All performers deserve hearing, of course. The final portion of the Other Europeans, that Ruth Ellen Gruber posted yesterday, is included in the "official" feed. Would that we could have seen today's Shalom on Szeroka Street.

"Other Europeans" concert at Krakow Jewish Culture Fest

Writer Ruth Ellen Gruber attended the first performance of Yiddish Summer Weimar's "Other Europeans" concert:

The "Other Europeans" project—an intercultural dialogue on Yiddish and Roma music, culture and identity—had its concert debut July 2 at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. The two-year project entails creation of two bands, one Yiddish and one Roma, which this year will play separately, developing repertoires with common Romanian roots and next year will join forces, performing together. At the concert in Krakow, each band played a set and then joined together for the encore—here's a link to a video I shot of that joint performance. Sorry about the fuzzy video, but the sound is more or less OK….

The project is a collaborative effort of the Yiddish Summer Weimar, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival and the KlezMORE festival in Vienna. Driving force behind it is Alan Bern. For details of the project, see www.the-other-europeans.eu/project.htm

Yiddish Summer Weimar kicks off next weekend with a 3-day "other Europeans" symposium.

Günther Schöller notes:

The internet radio station emap.fm broadcasts both Vienna concerts:

The concert of the "Yiddish Music Project" is on July 7th, starting at 9 pm local time, that's 3 pm in New York. The concert of the "Roma Music Project" is on July 8th, same time.

Both concerts should also be available as stream on demand afterwards, but I'm not 100% sure.

The Jerusalem Post weighs in on "Lipa"

Sent to the Jewish-Music mailing list by Michael Makiri:

The first haredi pop star, by Michal Lando, on July 3, 2008

The wisdom of crowds being what it is, the following comment came from Sam Weiss:

Great article, though it misses the mark in one key paragraph: "… in the past few years, Schmeltzer's albums have gained tremendous popularity within the Orthodox world—due in part to his innovations in fusing traditional hassidic music with contemporary music styles."

No: "fusing traditional hassidic music with contemporary music styles" is the least of it (every hassidic musician and his father have been doing that for a long long time.) Lipa's tremendous popularity rests on his tremendous talent and artistry, his rootedness in both traditional hassidic music and contemporary music styles, his bravado, his consummate showmanship, and his endless and shameless self-promotion. (Yeah, I like Lipa.) Of course, all of the above makes him very dangerous to the status quo, so opposition from the Haredi establishment is perfectly understandable. What I don't understand is why they've been asleep at the wheel until now and allowed him to progress as much as he has. I guess the answer lies in this very JPost article: As the man says, he's an inevitable force.

Binyomin Ginzberg adds:

This paragraph is incorrect too.

"The ban on "The Big Event" was signed by 33 rabbis, haredi and non-haredi alike. It was the most significant ban of its kind and brought together rabbis who otherwise wouldn't be caught at the same table."

All of the Rabbis who signed that ban are haredi. Some are chassidic and some are not, and I suspect that that's what the reporter meant to convey.

Rachel Eisenberg then cuts to the actual performances:

What a great article about Lipa Shmeltzer! I have heard him perform live, several times, at a hotel in the Catskills. I find him to be very uplifting, and he injects spirituality into every performance. I believe his performances come from a higher level than just music for music's sake, and I am very disturbed by the critics who are trying to undermine him. I do believe, though, that for all his insistence that he will continue to do what he does regardless, that he was indeed scared off at least a little by the critics. In the last performance of his that I saw, this past Pesach, despite the crowd's continual yelling for him to peform "Abi Meleibt" (which puts Yiddish words to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), he did not perform this song. It is a shame that he caved under the pressure.

KlezKanada brochure available; registration filling up; Aug 18-24, 2008

KlezKanada 2008Okay, it's true that I'll be doing the multilingual daily newsletter (Yiddish, English, maybe some Russian, Spanish—in whatever languages events happen) and other computer-related stuff there, but there is also going to be some hot Yiddish culture, starting with klezmer.

The brochure for the 13th edition of KlezKanada's Summer Institute is now available! Download it in PDF form from our website. Also available is the Workshop Choice Sheet. Print it, fill it out and send it in!

Download the 2008 registration form/a> and send it in today to reserve your place at KlezKanada!!

Our new website is almost finished and should be online very soon! There, amongst bright colours, you will find full faculty bios, a year-round calendar of events, program highlights, pictures, videos and more!!

Can't wait until August?? Recapture some amazing moments from last year's concerts on KlezKanada's YouTube Channel.

JDub 5th Anniversary Party, NYC, Jul 20, 2008

We can thank JDub for some of my favorite music of the last five years, from SoCalled to Matisyahu, recent Golem, Balkan Beat Box, etc. This should be an incredible show.

event logoOn Sunday July 20th, JDub is celebrating its 5th Anniversary with a FREE event at the Prospect Park bandshell as part of the annual Celebrate Brooklyn festival series. The event, which runs from 5-9 PM (doors open at 4) will feature Golem, Soulico, DeLeon, Sway Machinery, and Michael Showalter hosting, as well as cool special guests like Brian from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Israeli godfather of hip-hop Sagol 59 and a marching band.

JDub has brought some of the most interesting music of the last five years--yeah, those are JDub artists above, and doesn't even include SoCalled or former stablemate, Matisyahu. This is the place to be on July 20th.

Celebrate Brooklyn @ Prospect Park Bandshell Doors open at 4 PM; music starts at 5 PM $3 suggested donation to Celebrate Brooklyn www.briconline.org/celebrate/072008.asp

La Minute Klezmer Bling Bling

Klezmer has really caught on in Paris. Catch this quick video from Yom, a Parisian klezmer channelling Naftule Brandwein.

Yale Strom to teach at Mark O'Connor Strings, Jul 28-Aug 1, 2008

July 28-August 1: The Mark O'Connor Strings Conference is back! The 5-day teach camp is taking place for the 8th time in San Diego, CA, and features an all star line up of teachers this year covering many different styles of violin and string playing. In addition to world renowned violinist and composer Mark O'Connor's instruction, students can enjoy learning from some of the best string players in the world:

Members of the Grammy winning TURTLE ISLAND STRING QUARTET, Texas fiddle legend SHORTY CHANCELLOR, leading Klezmer violinist and author YALE STROM, budding cello star RUSHAD EGGLESTON, Rock violin star MARK WOOD and many more.

Enjoy five full days of fiddle classes, seminars, demonstrations and concerts. Classes are given by Grammy winner Mark O'Connor and a stellar faculty of guest instructors. While participation is subject to change due to scheduling and availability, faculty in past years has included Darol Anger, Randy Elmore, Natalie MacMaster, Matt Glaser, Buddy Spicher, Yale Strom, Mark Wood and Rachel Barton.

Sessions are designed to accommodate players from the ages of 8 and up and of with a wide range of achievement levels. From beginners (young and old) to professional musicians from symphonies, bands and chamber orchestras, the programs offer activities and instruction appropriate for a wide range of players. Instruction includes in-depth explorations of fiddle styles, including classical, jazz/swing, Texas, Bluegrass, klezmer, Celtic and others.

The San Diego Conference also offers instruction for viola and cello. Register now at www.markoconnor.com for the five-day event. It is just around the corner!