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March 19, 2017
Times of Israel on Pepi Littman

This turn-of-the-century crossdressing feminist proves that Yiddish theater ain't no drag, Mar 12, 2017

With a modern revival 100 years after Pepi Littman donned Hasidic garb, the irreverent, nearly forgotten performer is even more relevant

Posted by adavidow at 06:05 PM | Permalink
Frank London's "Hatuey Memoria de Fuego" premieres in Cuba

The KlezmerShack is embarrassed to be a month behind the times, but we'd rather be late than not acknowledge this neat new Frank London project

Yiddish Opera to premiere in Havana, by Miranda Cooper

'Hatuey: Memory of Fire,' written by composer Frank London of the Klezmatics, tells the story of a Ukrainian refugee who falls in love with a revolutionary Taíno singer

Hatuey: del cabaret a la colonización

El próximo viernes 3 de marzo, la compañía Ópera de la Calle estrenará Hatuey, obra que—además de haber captado la atención de los medios internacionales—promete un espectáculo singular en dos tiempos: el siglo XVI cubano y la vida social de los años treinta.

Basada en el poema épico del ucraniano Oscar Pinis: Hatuey, memorias de fuego, y adaptada al teatro musical por la dramaturga Elise Thoron y el compositor Sir. Frank London, la ópera mezcla ritmos judíos y afrocubanos en compases irregulares, muy diferentes a los acostumbrados en el género.

Posted by adavidow at 03:57 PM | Permalink
March 18, 2017
Yiddish Summer Caravan Orchestra to Haifa!

From Andrea Pancur on Facebook:

Are you 26 or younger? Were you born after August 10, 1990? Do play an instrument? If so, come join the young Israeli Jewish and Arab musicians on an exciting journey of discovery... Haven't you always wanted to go to Haifa? Do you have some free time between the July 23 and August 10 to travel, rehearse and meet new people? Then apply for the Yiddish Summer CARAVAN ORCHESTRA Project until March 31: yiddishsummer.eu/special/caravan.html

More on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/346286172119179/

Posted by adavidow at 11:10 AM | Permalink
March 13, 2017
Yiddish Summer Weimar: "most important festival for Jewish music"

Posted by Andrea Pancur on Facebook:

The Foward says so, and the whole Yiddish Summer Team is delighted: The most important festival for Jewish music is Yiddish Summer Weimar. If you, too, want to indulge into the sublime festival atmosphere for a week or even a whole month (July 15 - Aug 12) you can register right away for one or more workshops about song, instrumental music, badkhones, hasidic music, middle eastern music, yiddish language, story-telling, dance and dance orchestra.

Do so until March 31 and benefit from the Early Bird discount. Here's the link to the registration: yiddishsummer.eu/main/workshops/registration.html

Posted by adavidow at 06:54 AM | Permalink
March 12, 2017
Yiddish Teacher summer program, Brussels, Jun 17-28, 2017 Yiddish Teacher at the Institute of Jewish Studies (Brussels) Yiddish on the Continent The Institute of Jewish Studies (Free University of Brussels - Belgium) The summer programme offers students intensive language courses catering to elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. Language classes are predominantly conducted in Yiddish. The morning classes are complemented with a broad range of language enrichment activities including :
  • Singing workshop with Shura Lipovsky
  • Theater workshop with Tal Hever-Chybowski
  • Lectures on specialised subjects
  • Yiddish film
  • Visits to Jewish sites (museum, synagogues, monuments).
  • More information: www.ulb.ac.be/facs/philo/judaisme/
    Posted by adavidow at 03:29 PM | Permalink
New Yiddish CD of Botwinik songs

cd coverNEW Yiddish CD!

From Holocaust to Life = Fun khurbn tsum lebn

Internationally acclaimed singers Lisa Willson, John Packard and Ian DeNolfo join forces in this exquisite collection of 15 Yiddish Art Songs, with 2 bonus songs performed by world-renowned tenor Louis Danto. All the music is by Montreal-based composer David Botwinik (born 1920, Vilna), with lyrics by various poets.

More information about the CD (and book) available online

Posted by adavidow at 02:31 PM | Permalink
Yiddish Song of the Week: "A Boat for Me, a Canoe for You"

"For me a ship, for you a canoe..." performance of a short Yiddish song by Zelig Schnadover. Commentary by Itzik Gottesman. Now on CTMD's Yiddish Song of the Week.

Posted by adavidow at 12:04 PM | Permalink
January 28, 2017
Yiddish Summer Weimar July 15–Aug 12

The program is announced. Get ready.

"Every summer, people of all ages from near and far come to Weimar to experience our inspiring program of workshops, concerts, dances, jam sessions and much, much more. You can come for a brief visit to hear a concert, join a jam session, dance or mini-workshop, or stay for as long as a month and immerse yourself in our unique, interdisciplinary program."

"Yiddish culture is world culture. It has many deep and surprising connections to other cultures of Europe, the Middle East, North and South America and beyond. Each year, we explore some of these connections. In 2017, our special topic is "The Other Israel: Seeing Unseen Diasporas." Israel today is home to a kaleidoscope of cultures from around the world. Yiddish culture is only one of these, alongside Iraqi, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Russian, and many others. This year, we will be introduced to this amazing and complex intercultural matrix, guided by some of the renowned artists and teachers who live inside it."

http://yiddishsummer.eu/

Posted by adavidow at 04:06 PM | Permalink
January 24, 2017
Registration open for 28th North American Jewish Choir Festival, to be held July 16-20, 2017, Catskills, NY

North American Jewish Choir Festival

July 16–20, 2017
Hudson Valley Resort and Spa,
400 Granite Road
Kerhonkson NY 12446

* Instant Choirs for All Singers
* Daily Community Sings
* Workshops Galore
* Outstanding Performers
* Opportunities

This Summer Also Features a
SPECIAL TRACK FOR
SYNAGOGUE CHORAL SINGERS

* Learn Contemporary and Traditional Synagogue Classics
* Improve Your Skills
* Bring New Inspiration to Next Year's Holidays

More information
Registration
Fellowship applications

Posted by adavidow at 04:41 PM | Permalink
January 19, 2017
Local singer brings to life cross-dressing Yiddish vaudevillian

Bay area folks may enjoy this article about Jeanette Lewicki and tonight's performance, "Comedienne in a Hasid's Pants: Pepi Litman."

Local singer brings to life cross-dressing Yiddish vaudevillian, Hannah Rubin, Jan 12, 2017, J Weekly

epi Litman may have been born in the 1800s, but from reading the details of her life, you wouldn't know it. A cross-dressing performer with undeniable Yiddish swagger, Litman toured Eastern Europe with her vaudeville theater troupe, singing songs about politics, archaic religious traditions and the death of bureaucracy.… [more]

Posted by adavidow at 02:37 PM | Permalink
The Lost Vault of Klezmer

This was posted last month, but it's a great story involving Michael Aylward and Joel Rubin. Enjoy!

The Lost Vault of Klezmer

Recently, after almost a decade of sleuthing, a rogue British hobbyist and one of the greatest living klezmer musicians uncovered a lost trove of vinyl records from the earliest days of the Jewish music industry. This week, we follow in their footsteps and revise musical history. We talk to the discoverers of klezmer's "lost vault", Michael Aylward and Joel Rubin, and we take a look at how the American working class fell out of love with opera. Plus, we indulge in some happy memories of holiday music.

Posted by adavidow at 01:05 PM | Permalink
You can help fund new Mark Rubin recording, "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter"

I try to find ways to explain what little I understand about Mark Rubin's music, but most tend to distract. He's been the linchpin of several Klezmer ensembles—that's how I first encountered him. But, he's also been the linchpin of a host of Americana bands, from Texas polka to bluegrass. He plays honest music astonishingly well, and he takes no bullshit from fellow musicians, so the whole damn thing tends to sound astonishingly well. An Ashkenaz performance where he played bass with Andy Statman (the always excellent Larry Eagle was on drums) remains one of my peak Andy Statman performances (and for that matter, a peak Ashkenaz concert). His first solo recording, "Southern Discomfort" featured his uncomfortable take on Leo Frank and other misfortunes, as well as some very fine picking. His appearance at the most recent Ashkenaz was wonderful, although I got a sense that people were looking for something a bit more … safe. By "safe," of course, I don't mean that this is avant garde music, but that it comes with the sort of chip on your shoulder you get when you are used to being the only Jew in a crowd of mostly non-Jewish folks full of their own tribal identities. I'd compare him to Kinky Friedman, but other than being Jewish and being associated with Texas, I'm not sure there is much else in common—although it is easy to compare "The Murder of Leo Frank" with "Ride 'em Jewboy" and "They don't make Jews like Jesus anymore."

Too many words. There is a new Mark Rubin recording coming. You can help make it happen:

GoFundMe for "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter"

Posted by adavidow at 11:00 AM | Permalink
January 18, 2017
Koukias brings opera "Before the Flame Goes Out" to Hobart

This came from a post by a friend on The WELL. Sounds fascinating:

Koukias brings opera "Before the Flame Goes Out" to Hobart, by Matthew Westwood, The Australian, January 14, 2017

"… [H]is new multimedia concert piece, Before the Flame Goes Out, will be performed at Hobart Town Hall this month and Koukias is thrilled that it will have its premiere in his home town. [Th]e piece is about a region of northwestern Greece that was the land of his forebears: a place of hard light and mountainous beauty, of religious and cultural diversity, and with a terrible episode in its history. Ioannina was home to the Romaniote community of Hellenic Jews: people with their own religious customs and a distinctive Greek-Hebrew dialect. They are said to have lived and worshipped in Ioannina since the 9th century, possibly earlier, and endured under a long sequence of Byzantine, Norman and Ottoman rulers, and then the Greek kingdom.…

Posted by adavidow at 11:28 AM | Permalink
The unexpected smash success of Jewish bluegrass music - Forward, 12-Jan-17

This one was captured by Margot Leverett, leader of the Klezmer Mountain Boys. Not sure the headline writer knows the difference between "blues" and "bluegrass", so think of this as a paean to Jewish "Americana" music. But, don't let the headline put you off—good article:

The Unexpected Smash Success of Jewish Bluegrass Music, by Gabe Friedman, January 12, 2017, The Forward

Saul Kaye never wanted to be a "Jewish blues" player. In his opinion, the Jewish music he had heard growing up in Northern California's Bay Area ranged from "really bad to horrible." In 2009, he was touring as a rock musician, playing hundreds of shows a year with various bands at bars and clubs. And though he had never been very religious, he experienced a bad breakup and felt the need to do something spiritually "radical." …[more]

Posted by adavidow at 09:45 AM | Permalink
December 22, 2016
Joel Rubin on "Good Reason" podcast

From Joel Rubin:

"Here's a podcast of the Dec. 13 broadcast of "With Good Reason" radio, which interviewed me in the first segment on the anthology Chekhov's Band: Eastern European Klezmer Music 1908-1913, and the recent CD with Veretski Pass, Poyln: A Gilgul:

player.fm/series/with-good-reason/the-lost-vault-of-klezmer

Posted by adavidow at 08:57 AM | Permalink
December 07, 2016
ePRHYME feat. Jon Madof—"Heavy Shtetl"

"Heavy Shtetl" is the second installment in ePRHYME'S series of Rap/Duets, which pair his densely packed poetic rhymes with a solo master instrumentalist.

For "Heavy Shtetl" ePRHYME has teamed up with Zion 80 front-man Jon Madoff to explore the creative process of "making music out of noise."

***Warning from ePRHYME: Acquired taste! Not for everyone.

Posted by adavidow at 03:11 PM | Permalink
November 28, 2016
Jewish music fans in NYC: Open House tonight The return of the Tuesday night Workmen's Circle klezmer workshop in NYC! Free open house tonight from 7-9 pm! Led by internationally acclaimed klezmer and Yiddish performer and educator Cantor Jeff Warschauer. Please forward and let everyone know! Come and bring your friends, relatives, anyone who likes to play or sing Jewish music! The free open house will be followed by paid sessions on subsequent Tuesday evenings: 12/6, 12/13 and 12/20 $30/session or $25/session for Workmen's Circle members. At the Workmen's Circle, 247 West 37 Street, Floor 5, New York, NY 10018 For more info: 347 623-4228
Posted by adavidow at 08:46 AM | Permalink
November 23, 2016
Ben Zion Shenker, z"l

Just caught a post on Facebook by Hankus Netsky with the sad news: Ben Zion Shenker, the composer of hundreds of melodies, including 'Eishes Chayil' and 'Mizmor L'Dovid,' passed away Sunday morning.

From Fishel Bresler:

I had the incredible privilege and honor of getting to know Reb Ben Zion a bit through davenen with him at Modzitz in Brooklyn over the years. A real gentleman, and a pleasure to talk to (and laugh with) about music. The last time I spoke with him and heard him lead the service was just a month ago, at Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. His voice was still beautiful, sweet and clear. The way he lived exemplified a life of modest, sincere avodah.

May he enjoy a lictign Gan Eden!
Fishel

A video of Ben Zion Shenker singing "Yedid Nefesh" (posted to Jewish-Music by Moussa Berlin)

Posted by adavidow at 05:40 PM | Permalink
September 22, 2016
Yiddish New York returns, Dec 24–29, 2016

We are excited to open registration for Yiddish New York (YNY) and to announce this year's programs and faculty. YNY is a 6-day workshop/festival that will run from Thursday, December 24 - Tuesday, December 29, 2016.

YNY's daytime programs at the 14th Street Y and adjacent Town and Village Synagogue include workshops in klezmer music, Yiddish song, language and theater, as well as lectures, panel discussions, films, walking tours and more, all led by a faculty of the Yiddish world's leading contemporary artists and scholars. YNY evenings will be filled with concerts, dance parties, a visual arts exhibition and jam sessions at venues around Manhattan's Lower East Side & East Village, neighborhoods steeped in Yiddish cultural history. We have great programs for kids and teens, and family members of all ages!

More info: www.yiddishnewyork.com

Posted by adavidow at 09:17 AM | Permalink
September 19, 2016
5th International Jewish Music Festival competition, May 4-8, 2017, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The 5th International Jewish Music Festival competition 2017 will be held from May 4-8th, 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It is a double celebration year as this will mark the 20th International Jewish Music Festival is held in Amsterdam. Preliminary rounds and semi-finals of the Music Competition will be held in the redesigned Uilenburger Synagoge with the Grand Finale taking place on May 8th at the spectacular DeLaMar theater holding a 1000 audience.

More info, registration, at ijmf.wordpress.com

Posted by adavidow at 03:47 PM | Permalink
September 09, 2016
Dave Tarras on video from CTMD

This announcement is over a year old, but I have no record of having shared it. About time! From Pete Rushefsky, Executive Director of the CTMD.

Center for Traditional Music and Dance is pleased to make available footage from a landmark November 1978 concert by the Dave Tarras Trio which also featured a youthful Andy Statman & Zev Feldman in their public debut, plus Yiddish singers Feigl Yudin and Ethel Raim. We're grateful for the work of Clara Byom (U. New Mexico) making this material available...

www.ctmd.org/davetarrastribute.htm

Posted by adavidow at 10:29 AM | Permalink
11th European Cantors Convention, Prague, 17-20 Nov, 2016

I am late to post this

The European Cantors association is happy to announce that booking is open for the 11th European Cantors Convention taking place in Prague from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 November 2016.

Guest lecturers will be Cantor Naftali Herstik and maestro Raymond Goldstein as well as a choir from the Tel Aviv Academy of Cantorial studies

All those interested in Jewish prayer music based on the orthodox tradition are welcome to attend. As well as lectures and masterclasses there will be a gala concert on one of the most beautiful synagogues in Prague and a tour of Jewish Prague. And best of all cantos and choir will illuminate two beautiful Prague synagogues with memorable music and prayer over Shabbat.

More details, a flyer that you can download and print off and the registration form can be found on the website www.cantors.eu.

Posted by adavidow at 09:59 AM | Permalink
new Klezmer resource: Sherry Mayrent's "Klezmer Academy"

I'm not sure if this is new, or simply new to me—the KlezmerShack has been mightily distracted for a while. In all events, it's a great site:

Klezmer Academy, curated by clarinetist Sherry Mayrent, has klezmer tunes, discussions of klezmer theory, practical lessons on style, musings on current and past trends in the music and its performance, and other topics on all aspects of klezmer and its history.

Posted by adavidow at 08:36 AM | Permalink
September 03, 2016
Two essential Yiddish Trios

Two last reviews before I hit the road to Toronto and the Ashkenaz Festival. It's been 20 years of New Jewish Music, and I'm excited—but not so excited that I want to forget to tell you about these:

cd coverI have no idea why I haven't reviewed this release yet. It is exactly the kind of music I look forward to, created by three of my favorite young-ish musicians--KlezKanada and KlezKamp alumni, hurrah!, making music for their generation, and celebrating hundreds of years of Yiddish culture: Yiddish Art Trio, 2014.

cd coverAnd, in the same vein, drawing on veterans from the former USSR, from the UK and USA, we have the holy musical trinity of: Sklamberg & the Shepherds / Aheym, 2015. Just beautiful

It's a Yiddish-lover's world. Enjoy. As for me, I'm off to my own aheym at Ashkenaz!

Posted by adavidow at 08:54 AM | Permalink
August 31, 2016
"Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn" Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

This week's "Yiddish Song of the Week" features the original (two originals, in fact) of a song that was remixed as part of the WAKS recording that I reviewed this week.

"Ver es vil kayn tate-mame folgn" Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954

Posted by adavidow at 01:06 PM | Permalink
Barry Sisters on YouTube

From Simon of Hatikva Music

The Barry Sisters performing live...Amazing!!! "Nu, Zug Mir Schoin Ven" (Live! With lyrics)

Does anyone have the translation to this song????

Posted by adavidow at 10:48 AM | Permalink
Mickey Katz singles released in UK cd cover

Just heard about this new release in the UK:

Mickey Katz and his Orchestra / Strictly Kosher Singles

My respondent notes that there is a lot of variation in levels between the cuts--it sounds more like a paste-together compilation than something someone tried to make work together. But, minor cavils—the material is now available outside of collectors' shops.

The compilation appears to be released by Jasmine Records

Posted by adavidow at 10:37 AM | Permalink
August 29, 2016
Catching up with five "must listen" new releases

I am once again looking for a next gig (if you know someone in the Boston area who needs a cloud computing consultant/Project Manager/Scrum Master, do contact meAshkenaz Festival in a few days:

cd coverThis is one of the most interesting and successful "re-mix" efforts I've heard. A group of musicians in Germany has pulled archival recordings and integrated into their covers. The material is wonderful and nicely extends our repertoire, and encourages more to consult the same sources: Waks / Yiddish Voices, 2015. Highly recommended.

cd coverI always look forward to concerts and recordings by klezmer flautist Adrianne Greenbaum. This new one is especially noteworthy as it brings a klezmer family repertoire back to life: Fleytmuzik / Poyln, 2016

cd coverRecordings like this remind us why we miss the late Franka Lampe (and how wonderful it is that her partner on this recording, Fabian Schnedler, is just hitting his stride—see him next weekend with Semer Ensemble in Ashkenaz!). In this case, the duo mine field recordings amongst Jewish criminals (an obvious place to look for those who know of the reputation of klezmorim back in the day). Check out Schikker Wi Lot / Ganovim-Lider, 2016 and enjoy.

cd coverLocal (to me, here in Boston) avant-garde-istas return to the recording world after an absence of several years to remind us all why we miss them and how great it is to hear new material: Naftule's Dream / Blood, 2016. Sure to bring a smile to your ears.

cd coverIf there is a better Jewish band actively creating new traditional klezmer, I don't know of them. In this new recording, they include Joel Rubin, an equally acclaimed klezmer revival pioneer and professor. Just marvellous. Polish rural folk traditions klezmerified. Veretski Pass w/Joel Rubin / Poyln, 2015. Buy a few copies—you'll be handing them out to friends and family.

Posted by adavidow at 11:32 AM | Permalink
August 25, 2016
Yiddish song of the week: "Surele iz in vald avek"

Jeremiah Lockwood sings the Yiddish folksong "Surele iz in vald avek"

Little Sarah is off in the woods picking flowers for a bouquet.
In the forest a little bird comes to her and says: Tweet.
-Tell me little bird, how long will my life be?
-Forty, eighty, one hundred years.
-Thank you, little bird, very much.

Posted by adavidow at 08:49 AM | Permalink
"The Tsimbalist" - murder and klezmer, too!

Thank you, Pete Rushefsky for turning me onto this one. It's a murder mystery set in mid-19th century Russia and the hero is a tsimbl player—just like Pete! (although, other than musicianship and being people you'd like to hang out with, there are no other resemblances). Written by Big Galut(e) fiddler Sasha Margolis, the mystery provides a good, if occasionally idealized look at Jewish life in that place and time (not so idealized that there aren't anti-Jewish mob confrontations, mind you). The mystery is reasonably good, the characters are sympathetic, and the novel ends with a wonderful description of an old-style wedding. Best of all, the seeds are sown for a sequel. I would look forward to reading another one. If you don't want to order via Amazon, I am sure your local bookstore could be convinced to order it, and perhaps even to stock it for the convenience of your friends.

Posted by adavidow at 08:32 AM | Permalink
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About Klezmer Music

The Klezmer revival (article revised 9/97) sparked a renaissance in Jewish music and culture. Nowadays, the revival is over--klezmer is a popular music form that is no longer exclusively Jewish, and other forms of Jewish music are also gaining in popularity. And no one questions the place of klezmer in both Jewish and popular cultures. Well, no one we care about. Meanwhile, the edges of musical and cultural boundaries continue to change, expand, and morph onward, fueled by the imperatives to explore new music on the one hand, and by the shifting sense of Jewish identity on another, not always related, hand. So I find myself, in these pages, moving both directions at once: trying to expand access to all Jewish music materials, and happily exploring musical edges, some of which have nothing to do with Jewish music.

Klezmer is the music that speaks to me. It's balkans and blues, ancient Jewish culture and prayer and history, spirit and jazz all mixed together. Good klezmer, and the music inspired by it, demands that one dance. In the words immortalized by Emma Goldman: "If your revolution doesn't include klezmer, I don't want it." I sometimes envision the Holy One, Blessed Be Whatever He/She/It May Be, who knows all history before its time, sitting on the throne in heaven, watching new music and cultural excitement unfold, turning and declaring to the assembled angels and saints and sinners, "ahhhh, now I can hear it live."

KlezmerShack FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions)

We have klezmer news and the latest reviews. For new musicians, we've added a FAQ on "Essential klezmer repertoire" culled from the Jewish-music mailing list.

If you want to be listed here, or to get advice on putting together your own web page or CD, read this short "how-to" page.

If you are looking for sources of sheet music, several online vendors carry books and music. If you are looking for album recommendations, browse the reviews and try what sounds like you. Be aware that I don't know which , and will never recommend any band for your simkha--contact your local Jewish community newspaper, book store, or federation--or any of the bands from your area. And, mazel tov! Oh, and don't forget to browse the "klezcontacts" page. The Klezclassified's is the place to check to advertise, find other's ads, jamming partners, whatever. If you'd like to be listed, on any of these pages (or more than one) just send me e-mail, or use the semi-convenient form, telling me a bit about yourself. (Don't send me a web URL and expect me to extract info. Don't even get me started about incoherent web pages--look over my notes on designing a usable web page, and then, still, send me a paragraph of text about yourself, your band, or just to say 'hello'.)

Search the KlezmerShack:
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Note that the latest stuff may not yet be indexed.

As I said, I never make any recommendations beyond what is listed here. For recommendations of any sort, or for gossip, discussion, or even to ask about stuff that I clearly don't know about, the best place to ask is the jewish-music mailing list. I specifically never make recommendations or suggestions about bands for your wedding or bar mitzvah (see above for similar rant). To repeat, you always want to be consulting local Jewish newspapers, federations, and other community organizations and services. They survive only because you use them. Please do.

If you have a klez story to tell, comments, reviews to add, or just want to let people know about your band, or have something else to say that I haven't already mentioned (and especially about bad links or other mistakes)--send me e-mail. I'll get it all online as I have time. It's a pleasure!