" /> the KlezmerShack: October 2014 Archives

« September 2014 | Main | November 2014 »

October 30, 2014

Yiddish song of the week, from Josh Waltezky

These are posted each week by Pete Rushefsky to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

O rebbe I stand and shiver
In my heart burns fire.
I want to be a good khosid,
a faithful khosid.

A song from the repertoire of Josh Waletzky's grandfather Morris. Commentary by Itzik Gottesman. Now at the Yiddish Song of the Week.

A project of Center for Traditional Music and Dance and the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center's An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture.

October 28, 2014

New Moors Video, "We're heading for a meltdown"

New video from The Moors. Not particular related to Jewish music, per se, but fun, nonetheless:

October 27, 2014

An exciting week in Cambridge, MA, and in NYC

There are a host of interesting and significant events happening this week in our northeast corner of the country.

Tonight, in NYC, Jeremiah Lockwood, leader of The Sway Machinery is back on this coast and will be debuting his new CD and offering up a tribute to his late mentor, Carolina Slim. Expect lots of blues.

Tomorrow night in Manhattan, CTMD and others present the exceptionally exciting NYC premier of Deborah Strauss's new women's klezmer violin trio, Figelin. More info at the KlezmerShack calendar. I might note that the trio is also appearing on Monday night in Brooklyn.

Most important for me, however, is the 2nd Annual Klezmer Festival at the Regattabar, here in Cambridge. Two of the most interesting Klezmer fusion bands, Klezwoods and KCB clarinetist Ilene Stahl's Klezperanto join forces. I've waited years to see Klezperanto again. This is going to be big. According to Ilene, we'll get the world premiere of lots of new repertoire and special guest, Kasia Sokalla, singer

Wednesday, for those lucky enough to be in Manhattan, Zisl Slepovitch is previewing his new Litvakus CD. I've heard it, and this is killer. It's called Raysn: The Lost Jewish Music of Belarus, and Dr. Slepovitch will also give a talk. He spent a decade researching the hidden musical treasures of Jewish Belarus (White Russia, also known in Yiddish as "Raysn") with the late, noted scholar Nina Stepanskaya. CTMD's Pete Rushefsky will interview Slepovitch during the program. More info on the KlezmerShack calendar, of course.

October 21, 2014

Tonight, NYC, "Letters to Afar" opening reception

"Letters to Afar" opening Reception Installation by Péter Forgács and The Klezmatics Tue, Oct 21, 2014, 6-8pm Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, New York, New York 10029 This multimedia installation is based on a YIVO collection of home movies made by New York City's Jewish immigrants who traveled back to visit Poland during the 1920s and '30s. The films document poignant family reunions and everyday life in cities and small towns, capturing a culture on the brink. Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/1491592681124535/permalink/1494650807485389/

October 18, 2014

Mark Rubin solo Kickstarter project

While I am mentioned the phenomenal Oklahoman who pretends to be a Texan (says the guy who went to high school there and has barely been back since), Mark Rubin, I forgot to mention that he is finally getting around to a solo recording. It's called "Southern Discomfort." You can help fund it (and you should). I have have.

Details are on the kickstarter page

Act now. Don't let this one fail, or you'll kick yourself for the next 120 years (we should all live and be healthy for so long).

Catch Mark Rubin and the Youngers of Zion live on your laptop 10/24

Those who have scanned the KlezmerShack calendar may have noticed that Mark Rubin and the Youngers of Zion will be performing next week in Lafayette, LA. What you may not know is that you can tune in. Pay what you want, and the Blackpot Festival and Valcour Records Present will be playing this 30 minute (or longer) show directly into their laptop, just for you! Feel free to request songs in the chat room and leave a tip when you enjoy something.

Details at www.concertwindow.com/shows/9884-blackpot-festival-and-valcour-records-present-mark-

Two different takes on Jewish music and Americana: Koby Israelite and Ezekiel's Wheel

cd cover

I have reviewed early Koby Israelite releases on these pages, and always with delight. But this latest, which includes some wonderful Americana, along with his usual patented remixing of world traditional music from all over (including a classic version of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," perhaps arranged as only an Israeli exile in London can). If you haven't heard of Israelite, or haven't yet heard Blues from elsewhere, you are in for a treat.

cd cover

The only thing sad about Ezekiel's Wheels first full-length release is that it has taken me a year to get it online. A traditional American klezmer band, the Wheels seem to infuse everything with a special energy. Their arrangements, even their newer compositions, are so much a part of the traditional approach to klezmer without foregoing what it means to be an American band making Ashkenazic Jewish simkhe music. They don't just sound special as a band, but in person they still seem special. This is the best capturing of that soul, so far, Transported

October 12, 2014

Zion80, Ichka, Lemon Bucket Orchestra, Lenka Lichtenberg/Yair Dalal - save the best for last from Ashkenaz 2014

So, we're just about at the end of my writing about the Ashkenaz 2014 fest and what I saw and heard there. Just a few more bands/releases to cover. Bear with me. I've kind of saved the best for last, so you wouldn't all go away.

The first full evening of the festival was Saturday night. As festival director Eric Stein noted, every act playing Saturday night was Canadian. That already makes Ashkenaz special. Beyond the rare incursion by some of the Montreal bands, you wouldn't think from sitting here in Boston that there was Jewish music, much less new Jewish music in Canada at all.

cd coverOne of the key ingredients of the festival is the ongoing dancing. This year, the band that did most of the playing for that dancing was a Montreal band, Ichka, that has also done some minor touring—they were even south of the border, here in Boston on a double bill with local favorites Ezekiel's Wheels last winter. They are a powerful, brassy ensemble that remind me in some ways of the venerable Dutch band, Di Gojim. Ichka is young and they play with excellence and fervor. Their first release, Podorozh, captures the contemporary North American klezmer sound: Not only familiar songs such as "Nifty's Freylakhs" or "Fun Tashlikh," but updated to include Steven Greenman's excellent "Dreaming of Goldenshteyn," a delightful "Glazier's Hora" from Alicia Svigals, and best of all, reaching across the pond to capture "the Tongue," by Merlin Shepherd (who, as already mentioned, was also at Ashkenaz with wife, singer/piano player, Polina Shepherd). Opening with a fantastic drumroll and a fantastic blaring of horns, this is both a blast from the past, and a statement about keeping the dancing speaking to us. If you were't at Ashkenaz, you can get your CD or MP3s from bandcamp.

cd coverJoining Ichka on its debut album was the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, one of Toronto's best street orchestras. You don't know from street orchestras? Somewhere, in an urban area near you there is a festival called "Honk!" featuring these popular, often-amateur ensembles from around the world. (Boston's was held this weekend, in fact!) Lemon Bucket is famed for calling out the band to play in an Assisted Living home, or to accompany a good protest. At Ashkenaz, they headlined on Saturday night, exciting the largest crowd I saw during the festival with incredible energy, precision, and a scintillating mix of klezmer, balkan, and whatever else they felt like playing. Their new recording, Lume Lume has the frenetic mix you would expect, with tunes from all over Eastern Europe, Jewish and otherwise. They close with one of my favorites, "7:40." Back towards the beginning of the klezmer revival, this was recorded by everyone. We all moved on. I am greatful to the Lemon Buckets for bringing it back, and for having so much fun playing. You can find out more and get your own copy (CD or MP3) from their bandcamp page.

cd coverAs part of my introduction to the artists playing at Ashkenaz, I mentioned Lenka Lichtenberg's recent CD, Songs for the breathing walls. She was at Ashkenaz to promote a new, just-released project, an album of lullabies which she has put together with Iraqi-Israeli artist Yair Dalal. Lullabies from Exile presents lullabies from both European and Mizrahi Jewish traditions. Featuring the gentle voices of both, as well as Dalal's wonderful oud, and backed by an excellent ensemble, this is the children's recording of the festival. Soothing and gentle, and drawing from so many Jewish traditions (and their overlap), it is a pleasure. Check out Lichtenberg's website for your own copy and for more info.

cd coverFinally, we come to my personal favorite, Sunday night's headline band, Zion 80, jazz guitarist/Tzadik recording artist Jon Madof's recent project merging the AfroPop sounds of Fela Kuti with the melodies of Shlomo Carlebach. While that original project was a wall of danceable, infectious nign, this concert highlighted material from the new release, Adramelech: The book of angels, vol. 22 featuring Madof's arrangements of John Zorn tunes from "The Book of Angels." The band isn't much smaller than the Lemon Bucket Orchestra, and took Jewish music to another continent entirely. If you don't have both of the Zion 80 releases, time to catch up. But, I also have to express my pleasure and delight especially at the new release. Available, of course, from Tzadik Records. Enjoy. Same time, same place, in two years for the next Ashkenaz Festival?

October 11, 2014

Catching up with Josh Dolgin at Ashkenaz

Josh "Socalled" Dolgin was ubiquitous at this past Ashkenaz (continuing my coverage of Ashkenaz 2014—if this goes on much longer, it won't end until I switch to KlezKamp coverage). He DJ'd late at night. He did magic tricks for kids. He interviewed Canadian folkie Geoff Berner about Berner's new novel. You could pick up copies of his little books of puns at the souvenir stand. No performances of his own music.

Truth is, Socalled appears to exploring a larger world outside Jewish remixes. We saw him evolving as a songwriter on recent recordings (see below), and in fact, his current project is the musical, "The Season." It sounds zany and fun, but is outside the scope of these pages. That being the case, let's work backwords for a while. But, I'll also note that there is a kind of neat capsule of the incredible diversity of Socalled's early Jewish-connected work in "The 'Socalled' Movie," back in 2010. You'd think someone this young doesn't yet need a movie. But, if you are at all familiar with his music, you'll have a lot of fun. And if you aren't familiar, this is a great introduction.

cd coverIn 2011, Dolgin released the Sleepover. To my ear, this was the first that focused primarily on Socalled the Canadian songwriter and hiphop artist, without any klezmer, and without any yiddish. With hits like "UNLVD," "Work with what you got," and "Richi," it's a lovely hiphop-ish, even pop-ish release. Featuring an abundance of Katie Moore's amazing voice, it is his most tuneful and soulful release to date, but also a curious one—a bit of a grabbag, as though he wasn't sure where he was going, but also wasn't going to hold back from trying whatever came to mind. The standout, for me, is a cover of the old Peggy Seeger anthem, "Springhill Mine Disaster." Sung at a faster clip than most versions, it is nonetheless beautiful. It is also one of the few songs to feature Socalled's highly expressive singing voice. More typical is the upbeat, calypso-tinged "Work with what you got." But then, just when you figure you've got the changes figured out, you encounter the "Richi" remixes at the end—a short Irving Fields solo piano gem, and a 15-minute dance remix by Derrick Carter. Like all Socalled releases, you can catch up with this one at the Socalled store.

icons of americanaOne of my favorite all-time releases is this all-star gem featuring David Krakauer, Socalled, and Fred Wesley (better known with James Brown). Jewish klezmer yiddish hiphop fun! I can't cover this in one paragraph. You can read the entire review of Tweet Tweet, or just rush to the website and get your own copy.

cd coverIn 2007, Socalled released the first CD to primarily feature his own songs (as opposed to the inspired remixing and rapping he had been doing for years). "You are never alone," singing of the 'Yiddish Cowboy' is a post-klezmer-revival classic, and that's just one of the songs. There is a full review of Socalled / Ghettoblaster finally up on the KlezmerShack. And, as above, you can get your own copy at the Socalled store.

cd coverThe most recent Krakauer-Socalled collaboration (excepting Abraham Inc, of course, and the very different intro/outro pieces composed for Krakauer's recording of Messiaen's "Quartet for the end of time" released last spring) was 2005's Bubbemeises. You can read more about this wild klezmer-jazz-hiphop collaboration on David Krakauer & Josh 'Socalled' Dolgin / Bubbemeises

As I was saying, Socalled was over the place at Ashkenaz 2014. But if it's Socalled's music you're looking for, these cover the last decade. Enjoy.