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Klezmer Céilidh, Berkeley, CA, 4 Jun 2009

Thursday, June 4
Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo, Berkeley CA
Klezmer Céilidh
Doors at 8:00 p.m.; Show at 8:30 p.m.

A Céilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is a traditional Gaelic dance party, from the days before discos and nightclubs. But the 2 bands tonight are anything BUT traditional, merging Klezmer, Ska, Celtic music and much more into their own unique, high-energy styles.

The Mad Maggies are some crazy musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area who play world-inspired, roots-driven rowdy folk fusion. Tonight’s show follows up on the recent release of their 3rd CD, “Skull and Magpies.” The Mad Maggies are Maggie Martin on vocals and accordion, clarinetist and whistle blower Rhian Robinson, tuba player Johnny Blood, alto saxophonist Adrian Gormley, trombonist Lawrence Jarach, J.X. Lovejones on tenor sax and clarinet, drummer Billy Dee Boom, bassist Lewis Wallace, and guitarist Gary Wium.

Bay Area klezmer band Go Van Gogh also doesn’t fit the usual categories. As the members explain, they’re “not your bubbe and zadie’s klezmer band. Call it country music, but we’re not sure what country. Music for a Middle Eastern Western, Balkan surf ska, with a Western Swing Ethiopian twist. Whatever you call it, we play it, and you can dance to it.”

The band’s roots trace back 15 years to a duo formed by Connie and Jesse Walkershaw for their original songs, with various band accompaniments. Eventually the lineup became Go Van Gogh, currently with Connie Walkershaw on soprano and alto saxophone, Michelle Walther on violin, Brad Bechtel on lap steel, Alex Roitman on accordion, Sam Tsitrin on guitar, Jesse Walkershaw on bass, and Kelvin Burton on drums. In concert Go Van Gogh’s repertoire includes original tunes, a century-old klezmer song written by a great-grandfather, and klezmer standards including “The Odessa Bulgar,” “Fun Der Khupe,” and “Be Happy Jews.”

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