Friday, June 24, 2016

Vu Zenen Di Froyen?

Over at the Forward surprisingly tolerant piece about Yiddish Soul, A Concert of Talented Men.



Some, however, had complaints, not about the quality of the singers or musicians but rather about who they were. In the middle of the show a woman stood up and shouted “Where are the women? Women can sing beautifully too you know,” and promptly left the venue.

It is, of course, a serious and fraught issue. Besides the Folksbiene’s Executive Director Bryna Wasserman not a single woman appeared or spoke during the three-hour show. Not one woman played an instrument, let alone sang. In the days following Yiddish Soul some secular Klezmer musicians and Yiddish singers took to Facebook to decry the Folksbiene’s decision to “discriminate” against women in order to assure that a religious audience would attend.
I have a lot of sympathy for such arguments but in this case I don’t agree with them. If all of the Folksbiene’s concerts and plays only featured men it would be an entirely different story. But it’s just the opposite: the company puts on a womanless show just once a year so that religious Jews who would otherwise be unable to attend can enjoy it. It’s worth it to do it once a year, especially if it allows the Folksbiene to present such great cantors and singers as Lipa Schmeltzer, Yaakov Lemmer and Benny Friedman.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt if next year’s Kulturfest featured a second concert on the same scale in which the Yiddish world’s many talented women singers and musicians could perform.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ay Yai Yai, Indeed!

"But, of course, Hakadosh Baruch Hu comes and "matzileinu's us"...

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Ein Li...

E. and David both emailed about Lipa Schmeltzer's cover of Ein Li Erez Anchoret performed with the song's composer in Hebrew and Yiddish: "Israeli lesbian composer moved to tears by NY haredi singer’s Yiddish version of her classic tune"



It's a horrible version musically speaking, IMO, but it doesn't much matter, because what's important is the dialogue that's happening here. Now it's easy to pretend that this is new, but the reality is that over the past few years there has been an increasing crossover of Chasidic artists willing to step out of the community's comfort zone to perform with/for secular/differently religious Jews (and non-Jews).



And that's the important part of this, the bridge-building that has been going on despite the leadership on both sides.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Dirty Mikveh Band

The song isn't so interesting to me, but the band name is perspired, I mean, inspired.



New Song in honor of Yud Aleph Nissan, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s birthday

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Cross-Currents Joins the Bandwagon....

....ranting about loud music at simchos in Hear Me Out.

As is typical with these kinds of articles, they blend together unproven assertions, irrelevant or even downright incorrect "statistics", silly suggestions and unworkable solutions that do almost nothing towards addressing the problem, but do serve as a "heter" for some sanctimonious , self-righteous fools to disrespect musicians.

I don't have the patience to address the distortions/misrepresentations/irrelevancies in this piece, and given the author's history of misleading statements, I don't think he deserves the benefit of the doubt on this either.

I do want to address one point, though. There is a simple solution to this issue. It is to hire bands that play softer. We exist. As one of the bandleaders who does just that, I can say that the "professional volume complainers" in the frum world do not practice what they preach. I more often get requests to turn up than turn down, and yet, my business from the professional complainer demographic is negligible, despite them hearing me at events and my booking many jobs on that basis from others in the community. When videos of the professional complainer's children's weddings are posted on line, they inevitably feature bands on the louder end of the spectrum.

I played an event for one of the "activists" behind a campaign about this in the frum community. She didn't hire me herself, though. She didn't talk to me before the event about volume either. The caterer hired me. So, someone who claims to be so concerned about this as a "signature issue", wasn't involved in making sure they had a volume-conscious musician at their own event. At the event, of course, she made sure to "virtue-signal" about volume, when it was absolutely not an issue.

To be clear. There are some in the from community who view these articles as a license to be verbally abusive towards musicians. This is irrespective of whether the musicians are playing too loud or not, and often happens before we've even played a note.

The solution is simple. Hire bands who are volume-conscious. Thus far, I've seen no evidence of that from the people who tend to respond to articles like this. Just nastiness.

(There are some other relevant factors as well, like the venue, layout of the room, etc. But, in large part, these could all be resolved by hiring bands that play softer. Yet, when the activists published a list of "approved bands", the list featured many bands that are clearly a part of the problem, and notably did not include some of those known for softer volume.)

Monday, February 29, 2016

From the mailbag...

Avraham (Alan) Friedenberg writes:
Do you have any ideas where I might be able to find CDs from the Stanley Miller Band? He was popular in the 70s, and I loved his stuff. They had a live album, and there was another one called "American Simcha." 
If you have any ideas, please let me know. Thanks!

This has been asked here before... I think if Stanley Miller released digital downloads of his albums, people would buy them. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

PSA Baby Banz Gemach



This looks silly, but is actually a good idea, if you are a close relative and need your away to be in the room at one of those loud weddings. Of course, the best option would be to hire a lower-volume band (I'm available), and next best would be for the baby to not be in the room.

But, if you need to have the baby there, or if you're one of those people who feels compelled to park your infant right in front of the speaker during the dance set, these are a good b'dieved option.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Drunk Homosexual Sex and Shabbos Zemiros

I recently read Marc Shapiro's recently published book "Changing the Immutable. It's a fantastic read, especially if you're interested in how history is often "shaded" in the Orthodox community.

In the section dealing with sex and modesty related censorship, he includes the following:
Let me conclude this chapter by returning to the subject of sex and pointing out that had it not been for an act of censorship, Israel Najara's (c.1555-c.1625) Ya-h ribon, would probably never have achieved popularity. R. Hayim Vital (1543-1620), in his Sefer hahezyonot, records that while drunk Najara engaged in homosexual acts. He also mentions that Najara had sexual relations with a non-Jewish woman. Because of this, Vital wrote that "the hymns that he has composed are in themselves good, but whoever speaks to him and whatever leaves his mouth is forbidden, because he always used foul language and was a drunkard his whole life."

In early editions of the book, Najara's name was deleted, and it is possible that it was even deleted from the manuscript used for the first edition. It was only with the 1954 publication of Sefer hahezyonot, from Vital's own autograph manuscript, that the report about Najara became known. Had this information been public knowledge in earlier years, it is unlikely that Najara's hymn would ever have been adopted, even though, as we have seen, Vital asserted that his hymns are without objection. Yet even after the publication of the uncensored Sefer hahezyonot, we should not be surprised that a 2002 edition of the work published by a Jerusalem yeshiva continues to omit Najara's name. To do so is a lot easier than explaining to people why such a man's hymns should still be sung.
The book is not really about music, but it's a fascinating read.

Amazon has it here:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Peeps!!!

"The Break-Dancing Photographer"
This peep comes running over at a yeshivish wedding and asks us to break down "Keitzad Merakdin" into Hip Hop, because he wants to get into the middle and "really bust some moves!"

Um, you're hired as the second photographer, not featured club dancer. I'm pretty sure the clients will want pictures of their other guests dancing "Keitzad Merakdin".


"'Mahapecha Shel Simcha' Guy"
This peep wants the bandleader to DJ a song during the dance set. Again. And again. And again. The same song. And, when the band takes a break after the set, again. And while we're packing up, yet again. It's a fun song, but really now...