Review | Personnel | Songlist
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About What the Chelm
About once a month I get together with some friends to do havdallah and then sing and play music for a while. Our musicianship is often at the learning stage, but we have a lot of fun and many of the singers and musicians are very good. Most important, though, is the fun, and that certainly characterizes this long-awaited album by Northwest Washington State's What the Chelm.
This is very much a Jewish folk album that happens to have a couple of klezmer tunes--and, of course, the necessary staple of modern Jewish simkhas, "Nigun Atik." There are more modern Zionist folksongs here than in most such collections, but the selections are generally impeccable, from "Erev Shel Shoshanim" to the Sephardic "Los Bilbilicos" to the '50s American crossover hit, "Bei Mir Bist Du Shein" to "Lech Lamidbar." True to the nature of the album, I entirely understand the inclusion of "Tzena Tzena" ("come out kibbutz girls, the soldiers are here and need to be entertained! Don't be afraid! Do your duty") Awful words, but darn fun to play and to sing. I myself have sat in on sessions where we assaulted the song with harmonic, bazouki, and mandolin. This band has done far better by the song :-).
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that this album is often surprising, and a whole lot of fun! Don't have a simkha without inviting What the Chelm
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 6/16/96
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