Sunday, October 31, 2004

Son of Mitzvah Man

The Town Crier thinks this will be a hit... but will Uncle Moishy cover any of the tunes?


Feeling particularly snarky, the Jerusalem Post's Ben Jacobson reviews "Chevra 2" and "Aidan and Dotan."

Here's a taste:
Eli Gerstner spreads his message of Torah in a manner that can be seen as 'cool' by adolescent 'at risk' Jews. Thanks to The Chevra 2, Orthodoxy's youth is now safe from going astray, which we all know might have led to mixed dancing.

Cher-ish Diss!

ABC reports that Cher's version of "Alfie" was dropped from the movie soundtrack "after test audiences laughed at the track."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

No Comment

Received the following email today from someone we don't know and who has never written before.
I am a piano teacher, please forward me sheet music of Abie Rotenber, Yossi Green, etc. Thx in advance!
Would anyone like to suggest a response?

Composing A Letter

Here's Musical Perceptions with "Letters from Camp."

The Watcher

A while back we had a few posts about unknown wedding customs. One of those posts, included the following customs which were submitted by David Bogner of Treppenwitz.
At every affair, there must be at least on designated 'conductor'. This is usually a drunk friend of the chassan who stands in front of the band gesturing wildly for some frenzied volume / tempo that he feels the band is deliberately withholding. His role is distinct, and should not be confused with the obligatory group of starers (see next minhag).
Every Boro Park / Williamsburg affair must have at least three (but preferably a full minyan) men who will stand absolutely still, with mouth partly open, and stare with blank, glassy-eyed expressions at the band throughout the affair. Extra 'schar' is earned for drooling. Olam Habah is earned if one can keep from blinking.
These resonated because any musician whose played these sorts of gigs has experienced this multiple times. Its simply one of the annoying things a club-date musician has to put up with.

Occasionally, though, the band gets a different kind of "conductor" or "watcher". The band had one such spectator at a performance last week. At the beginning of the evening, Eli (not his real name), who looked to be about 18 or so, pulled up a chair and sat down about two feet away facing us. During the cocktail hour, he mostly sat quietly watching us play. When the band took a break, he came over, introduce himself, and asked each musician their name. Speaking to him, it quickly became obvious that he was mentally disabled.

As the evening progressed, and the band began to play dance music, Eli began to jump up out of his seat. Conducting wildly and dancing directly in front of the band, he began to yell out encouragement to the musicians, calling each by their name. When we finished the first dance set, he congratulated us and immidiately began asking us when we were going to start th next dance. He couldn't wait for it to began again.

When we started the second dance, he was even more energetic than before. He spent almost the entire affair in front of us, dancing, conducting, and shouting encouragement, and he really seemed to be enjoying it. When the band finished for the night, he went over to each musician and thanked them by name. He then came over to me, thanked me for leading the band, and gave me a hug.

Sometimes, being watched can be a profoundly moving experience.

Orchestral Klezmer

This could be interesting ... Symphonic Klezmatics

Refluxive Defense

A reader (whose email inbox is full) writes in response to this post:
I wouldn't necessarily be too hard on Ashlee Simpson. It sounds like a joke, but acid reflux can be a very real problem for those who rely on their voices to make a living. A bad attack can indeed cause someone to lose their voice. Lesser attacks can cause the voice to be distorted, as well as making it very difficult to sing smoothly and in tune. (As a periodic sufferer of reflux, I can attest to this.) I would give Ashlee the benefit of the doubt. Whether she should have relied on lip-synching instead of cancelling the performance altogether is another question.

Play It Again, Not!

Nick Rogers has penned an anti-encore column. An old essay, but true.

It Takes More Than That! (Jewish Linkage)

Meet The Sparklifters. The late Allman Bros./Gov't Mule bassist Alan Woody guests on two tracks. Relix Magazine reviewed the album here. (Its review #6)

Psycho Toddler junior quits piano lessons.

House of Hock pays tribute to the Chevra in "Boy Bands, Ob'm."

Life in the Ghetto writes on why they only listen to Jewish music.

The Klezmer Shack reviews Andy Statman's latest recording of Chabad nigunim.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Chavroh Chevra Isa Lei

Here's a thread on the Chevra lawsuit that includes the full text of last week's NY Sun article.

Asked and Answered...

... at Kashrut.Org.

Um, Tehillim???

Excuses, We've Heard A Few

If you're caught lip-synching... blame it on acid reflux.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ignorance is Diss!

The Yada Blog's post about Uzi Hitman's passing is entitled "One hit(man) wonder." Benyamin Cohen's comment is:
Uzi Hitman, the guy who came up with that really fast tune to Adon Olam passed away this week.
In reality, in addition to Adon Olam, Uzi composed many other popular melodies including Todah, Ka'an, and Noladiti Lashalom.

Daniel Pearl Music Day

Hillels Celebrate Daniel Pearl Music Day
"Through journalism and music, Danny communicated friendship, understanding and respect for differences wherever his journeys took him. Whether he was interviewing ordinary people or world leaders, performing with orchestras, teaching violin to disadvantaged children, playing fiddle or mandolin with folk and bluegrass bands, or simply jamming and singing with friends and strangers, Danny recognized the power of music to bridge differences among people, and he used it to make friends and inspire understanding," Pearl's family wrote on the Daniel Pearl Foundation Web site.
Thanks, E!

Takana Update

Blog in Dm's Waldorf-Astoria correspondent reports:
In terms of the edict from the Rebbe - tonight's 'band' had 20 strings, 4 singers, and 19 or 20 non-string musicians.
Clearly, the takanos have been a smashing success.

Incidentally, Blog in Dm's Satmar correspondent is reporting that new and more draconian takanos are rumored to be coming down the pike in that community.



How to get caught lip-syncing... play the wrong song.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

From the emailbag:

A reader writes in to ask for our comments on this subscription-only NY Sun article, 'Boychik' Band of Boro Park Hits Sour Note With Lawsuit.which appeared last Wednesday. It speaks for itself, although the original complaint (18555/04 in Kings County Supreme Court) makes for fun reading and is inadvertently hilarious.

We will reserve comment, except for quoting two excerpts from the Sun article, each of interest for different reasons.
The Chevra topped the charts of a local magazine, Country Yossi, which performs a periodic survey of Jewish music sales at stores in New York, a magazine spokesman said. The Chevra became the "hottest group around," the spokesman said.
Michael Dorf, executive producer of the New York Jewish Music and Heritage Festival, said he was not familiar with The Chevra. But he said that many new Jewish bands, including Orthodox ones, are cropping up.
Another reader wants to know what Andy Statman's been up to. Here's Andy's website which has his performance schedule as well as audio clips of his recent recording of Lubavitch nigunim.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Hakol Kol Isha

Psych Toddler writes about his Kol Isha conflict in"My Daughter's Voice."

Burning Issue

Here's Biur Chametz:
'From when is Shma recited in the evening? From the time the priests enter to eat their terumah.' (Berachot 1:1)
Those words are the opening to the first chapter of the Mishna, the Talmudic code of Jewish law. But now they're also the lyrics to a chassidic song I first heard on the radio this morning.
Maybe this isn't new and I've just been out of the loop. I didn't catch the name of the group. From the sound of it, they're Israelis who sing with an Ashkenazi accent. The tune is lively and danceable - though I can't imagine why anyone would dance to such words.
I can't recall ever hearing legal texts sung chassidic-style. Psalms, yes; the Song of Songs, of course; inspirational sayings, naturally. But legal teachings? They must finally be running out of traditional texts to use for lyrics.
He's suggesting other texts for use as song lyrics.Reminds me of the time a friend and I set "ein machnisin mei raglayim ba'azara" to Sonny Rollins' tune "St. Thomas."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bruce Barth - Klezmer Pianist?

The Jewish Week profiles pianist Bruce Barth.

I loved his work on Andy Statman's "The Hidden Light" album... especially the reharms on "Lecha Dodi."

Good Punk/Bluegrass Shabbos!

White Shabbos has released their debut CD.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Now That's Customer Service

The Klezmer Connection's promise to you...
We will not explore the outer fringes of Klezmer on your time.
We will not give your Aunt Ida a heart attack by doing an ode to heroin in Yiddish.
You will never hear us fuse Klezmer with new wave Japanese hard rock.

Remembering Uzi Hitman

Here's Miriam at Bloghead.

This is Scary - William Shatner Update

William Shatner sings again!

Concert Reports

Dilbert attended a Piamenta concert this summer and describes his feeling about men and women being asked to sit separately.

Velvel attended a Blue Fringe concert. He wants to see them perform w/o 12-14 year-old girls in attendance.

Baruch Dayan Emet

Uzi Hitman 1952-2004

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Kahane Live

17 year old Gavriel Kahane has released his debut album of original music, "Guide Us Home."

He'll be performing at the upcoming Nefesh B'nefesh fundraising concert in Englewood, NJ.

Here's the info:

Congregation Ahavath Torah Proudly Presents
“Remembering Reb Shlomo”
An Evening of Music and Remembrance on the 10th Yahrtzeit of
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
To Benefit “Nefesh B’Nefesh”
Revitalizing and Expanding North American Aliyah
Featuring the Legendary Israeli Jam Band
Reva L’Sheva
as featured in the Jerusalem Report and the Jewish Week
with special guests
Gavriel Kahane and Eastbound
WHEN: Saturday Night, Oct. 30th, 9:00 P.M.
WHERE: Cong. Ahavath Torah 240 Broad Ave. Englewood, N.J. 07631
TICKETS: $20/ $15 (18 and under) in advance
$25/$20 (18 and under) at the door
Make checks payable to “Congregation Ahavath Torah”

Digital Accordion

Here's Instapundit on the new Roland digital accordion.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Karduner Concerts.

Yosef Karduner tour schedule here. Three shows over the next three days.

If you haven't seen him, or even if you have, it's a powerful experience. One man and his guitar in tefila and hisbodedus.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

For D.K.

Here's Dewey Decibel's FlipOut Guitar So what if you won't be able to reach the upper frets... it'll still get recognition from the yeshiva crowd. For much of that crowd, looks trumps technique.

Via Chromatic Musings

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Give The Drummer Some!

Frequently at weddings and other simchas, guests will come over and ask to sit in with the band. Most of the time, although not always, they are (or claim to be) drummers. In my experience, they are usually not good. They can't keep time, don't play well, and even in the rare cases where they have some chops, they either rush or drag the beat. What is the point of this exercise? At best, the guest and band manage to get through it without any major trainwrecks, but more often than not, the band simply sounds bad while this is going on.

I'm not talking about the chassan sitting in with the band for a few minutes if he happens to play an instrument. (I have some great stories about those cases too, but not for now.) I'm referring to guests who, whether in the immediate families or not, feel compelled to impose their musical skills --or lack thereof-- on the captive audience.

A few examples:

Recently, I played one wedding where two of the bride's brothers and one of the groom's brothers all played drums. And, of course, they all needed to play during the wedding. One of them, who has had some experience playing with a live band sounded OK. Not great, OK. IOW, no trainwrecks. The other two, who had never before played with a live band were rushing the beat so badly that it was messing up the dancing. Even with relatively quick turns, this ate up 15-20 minutes of the dance set. It wasn't pleasant for the band or the vast majority of the guests who were not watching the brothers play.

At another event, the guest vocalist brought along a yeshiva bachur as his shlepper/sidekick (why he needed a roadie for a microphone is beyond me) and asked if he could sit in. The roadie was terrible. He couldn't keep time and played so loud it was painful to be on stage with him.

A few months back, I attended a wedding where one of the guests took over on drums during the second dance set. The fellow simply couldn't keep the beat. I don't know why the drummer, who was standing next to him, didn't immediately step back in and take over. It was painful to hear. And, everyone who was dancing had to have noticed. The family had spent thousands on the band, but got a sub-par second dance set because one of the guests felt compelled to indulge himself.

There are some bands or bandleaders who allow guests to sit in with them at weddings. Others have (or try to have) a "no sitting in" policy with regard to amateur musicians. I understand both sides. It's hard to say no to someone, especially if they're a family member of the chassan or kallah or if they are persistent. At the same time, no band wants to be in a situation that makes them look/sound bad.

The simplest solution would be if people stopped asking to sit in with bands at simchas. The music will almost always sound better if people would just let the professionals do what they were hired to do. Even if the guest is a good drummer, they should still let the person who was hired play the job. In many cases, the bands have arrangements of the tunes that the amateur simply isn't familiar with, and even when the band isn't playing set arrangements, it will usually sound "tighter" when the regular drummer is behind the drum kit. Obviously, not everyone will listen to this suggestion, but if an awareness helps to mitigate the problem even somewhat, it's an improvement.

I've hedged slightly in the previous 'graph ("usually" and "almost always") because there are occasions where the hired drummer is incompetent and the guest will do a better job. In my experience, this occurs in three different scenarios. The first is when a pickup band is put together for a busy date. Sometimes, the band owner has a hard time finding an available drummer and hires someone who isn't so good because he doesn't feel that he has a choice. (This is mistaken logic. There is always a choice in the NYC area.) This also sometimes occurs with the largest band, when they overextend themselves on a busy date (i.e. Sundays in June).

The second is when the "bad" drummer is the person putting the band together which happens occasionally. I call such gigs "International Date Line gigs" because the drummer is in a different time zone than the rest of the band.

The third is when a singer puts together a pick-up band for a concert. These shows are distinct from the full concerts where the musicians are all either extremely well-rehearsed or reading arrangements off of charts (although the client may not be aware of this). In some cases I've seen, the singers have put unqualified drummers --usually yeshiva kids-- on these shows for a variety of reasons. Often it's because they'll work for less money, sometimes it's because they're friends, and occasionally it's because the drummer's parent/relative is in the booking/promoting business and they're trying to curry favor with them. Needless to say, regardless of the reason, this is unfair to the organization promoting the show and to the people who have purchased tickets to the concert. It's also unfair to the musicians earning a living in the business who have their prices undercut by kids.

At one such concert, the drummer had no idea of how to end a song with a band. As a result, every song ended in a train-wreck as the singer tried to slow the song down to end it and the drummer kept playing at tempo. At the beginning of the show, the singer confessed to me that he knew the drummer wasn't good, but he was hoping that using him would get him preference from the boy's mother who is a concert promoter.

At another concert, the singer as a favor to a friend, put him on drums. I knew it was going to be a rough gig when the sax player pointed out that the bass drum was backwards. The drummer had a rack for his toms, and he'd mounted his kick pedal to the back of the bass drum and had it facing backwards (with the anti-skid spikes pointing towards him). The sax player earned double duty on that gig, in my opinion, because he had to conduct the drummer, who apparently couldn't count to three, throughout the performance.

Incidentally, the problem with guests wanting to sing with the band is also a huge one... perhaps later.

Lubavitcher Beatboxing

Here's a video clip ofMatisyahu Beatboxing

Via JewschooL

Analyze This!

Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" B'iyun.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Oy Vey, Mateys!

The Telegraph Online reports on a wedding "pirate shtick" gone wrong:
The bride’s uncle pulled a pistol on the groom and best man, who were role-playing as pirates during a wedding reception at the Bounty Lounge late Saturday night, police said.
Gerard Moccia, 55, of Medford, Mass., was arrested about 45 minutes later on two felony counts of criminal threatening, Detective Sgt. Andrew Lavoie said. Moccia was a guest at the wedding, which was followed by a pirate-themed reception at the Bounty Lounge at the Holiday Inn on Northeastern Boulevard, Lavoie said.
As part of the reception, the groom and best man were to burst into the lounge and “take over” the large-scale pirate ship model that graces the lounge, a former nightclub now used as a function room, Lavoie said. The bride was on or near the ship at the time, he said.
The two men wore tuxedos, but they had put on eye patches and wielded plastic toy swords to play their part as pirates, Lavoie said.

eBay item

This eBay item didn't get any bids.

Monday, October 11, 2004

That's What It's All About

Here's guest hocker Dilbert:
This year, my 3 year old was old enough to have some understanding of what when on. He insisted on kissing every Torah, sang as loud as he could, and everytime the singing stopped(new Hakafah, new song) he looked at me and said, 'more music? more singing?'. On Shabbat and today you can hear him playing with his toys, singing 'aneinu, aneinu, be'yom koreinu'. Of course, he doesn't get the words exactly right, but you know what he means, and the tune is right on. I saw Simchat Torah through his eyes, and all of a sudden, all the people talking, not paying attention, leaving early, eating early, it didn't matter and didn't bother me. It was the best Simchat Torah for me in years.
I've got nothing to add.

Another Jewish Press Review

In contrast to the lifted review we mentioned earlier, here's Menachem Wecker's J-Press review of Seth Nadel's release, "Achas Shoalti" form the same issue.

Lo Talin cont...

This post on Lo Talin triggered a lot of email. Here are some of them.

MoC emails:
An interesting question: who is the ba'al habayis, the band leader or the ba'al simcha? If it's the ba'al simcha, I think he's patur because the band leader is his agent and agency suspends the requirement of immediate payment.
Also lo tallin applies only to the immediate day of work. As long as there is an understanding by the band members that it is customary NOT to get paid the night of the gig, the issur of lo tallin is suspended and it just becomes like any other debt obligation of the band leader.
Obviously you are right that it is inappropriate to string the band members along but I don't think it's lo tallin if the customary practice is to not get paid the night of the gig. On the other hand there is also a mitzvas aseh to pay someone on the day of the work. Band leaders are foregoing that mitzvah.
Treppenwitz's David Bogner writes:
I have to say a few words on this subject because it is one that heavily influenced my decision to play for one band (most of you know which one I'm talking about), and to stop playing for several others altogether (ditto).
Yes, you are correct that all of the main club date offices insist on paying the musicians as freelancers rather than regular employees. This should make them responsible to pay the musicians as 'day laborers' according to the halacha you quoted.
However, there are a few factors that come into play that you did not mention:
1. The club date offices are acting as contractors on behalf of a client who is not obligated to pay until after the end of the affair. In the halacha you quoted, it seems to be assumed that the person doing the hiring is the end user (the owner of the field... the proprietor of the factory, etc.). If I am incorrect and it is not implicitly assumed, then there is at least a lack of ample discussion of how subcontractors should be treated under the applicable halacha.
2. Each affair is booked for a set minimum number of hours, but it can, and often does, go overtime. This makes having checks prepared beforehand problematic. On the few occasions that the gig went 'undertime', the band for which I did most of my work collected the original agreed upon fee and paid me as though we had done the full time.
3. Many musicians have 'special deals' with the offices resulting in sophisticated individual calculations for many of the paychecks that need to be cut. This also makes having pre-made checks impractical. It is worth noting that these 'special deals' also call into question the status of many of the musicians as 'day laborers' (I'm talking about their halachic status, not their status under U.S. Labor law).
4. Many times the bandleader on the bandstand is not a member of management and is not privy to what each person is supposed to be paid (see 'special deals', above). This makes it impractical to have the leader pay the musicians.
5. There are often tips (yes Virgina, there are actually some honest offices that pass tips along to the musicians!). If the musicians pay was computed before the affair, it would create a very confusing situation for delivering this extra compensation.
6. Honesty. As I mentioned before, I stopped working for several club date offices (one in particular) that abused the process in order to gain additional 'float' by holding the musicians pay for weeks or even months after the client has paid for an affair. I cannot place enough emphasis upon this point. If a musician is working for a dishonest / unethical office, no amount of quoted halacha will fix the problem... and if they are working for an honest office, no amount of quoted halacha should be necessary.
7. In 17 years, the office for which I did most of my work miscalculated my pay two or three times; each times in my favor! I never missed a tip... and I know for a fact that they paid me on a few occasions even after being strung along (or even 'stiffed') by clients. When affairs were cancelled, they often placed musicians from the cancelled bands as 'freebees' on other affairs the same night in order to a) enhance the other affairs, and b) keep the musicians working. Even though the office benefited by being seen as giving a 'gift' to the clients on the other affairs... the gift was given entirely at their own expense!
8. The halacha as you quoted it should protect the interest of the workers. But the honesty and ethical behavior of the offices (which would indicate their acceptance of halacha in the first place) is a necessary ingredient for a positive result.
So I guess my message to musicians concerned with this aspect of Jewish law: Quoting halacha to a person who does not follow it may make you feel better, but it won't help in 'Olam haZeh' (this world). Part of having free will is being selective about with whom you do business... and in whose fields you toil!
I’m reasonably certain that in most cases it is the band owner that is considered to be the ba’al habayis, as it were, and not the ba’al simcha. My understanding is that generally freelance musicians view themselves as working for the band and not the client. In most cases, the musicians don’t even have an idea of whom -- other than the band owner — they’d collect payment from... The chosson?... His father?... The kallah’s family?... Somebody’s uncle???

In Hilchos Schirus 11:4, the Rambam addresses the case of shlichus and writes: “omar lahem scharchem al ba’al habayis, shneyhem einam ovrin mishum bal talin, zeh l’fi shelo sachran, v’zeh l’fi shein peulasan etzlo. V’im lo amar lahem scharchem al ba’al habayis, hashliach over” IOW, it seems clear that Rambam holds that unless the contractor explicitly tells them that the ba’al habayis will pay them, the agent is obligated to pay them on that day and violates the prohibition if he doesn’t.

The Shulchan Aruch in Choshen Mishpat 339:7 is even clearer: “v’im lo amar lahem scherchem al ba’al habayis, afilu lo amar lahem scharchem alai ela sachram stam, hu chayav b’scharam, l’fichach hu over mishum bal talin. The Rema adds that if the workers know that “ain hamelacha shelo”, then the shliach isn’t over b’stam. This may apply in the case of a larger office where the contractor is not an owner, but it would rarely apply in the case of smaller bands where the contractor is the band owner.

Interestingly, the Pischei Teshuvah quotes the Ma’amar Kaddishin who says that the reason the mechaber writes “Haomer l’shlucho” instead of “omer adam l’shlucho” is to teach that even in a case of agency, although b’dieved the ba’al habayis isn’t over, l’chatchila he’s over on ba’al t’shahe.

My impression is that if a client doesn’t pay, the musicians have no legal recourse to sue directly. Rather, the band has to sue the client, and the musician’s claim would be against the band.

This is the perspective I’ve always taken; that the bandleader is NOT a shaliach for the ba’al simcha and that Lo Talin generally does apply. I always pay the musicians at the end of the gig. I’ve only once forgotten to bring my checkbook on a gig and the check went out first thing the next morning. I consider myself obligated to my musicians even when the client has stiffed me. (Thankfully this doesn’t happen too often, although, I’ve had to lay out money for months on several occasions when clients were late with payment.) I don’t believe that it is customary not to get paid the night of the gig, except in the case of larger offices where it MAY be so depending on their agreement with a given musician and/or contingent on whether or not the client pays in cash. (A whole ‘nother discussion, incidentally.)

In the case of a large office, where the contractor is not one of the owners, the p’tur of agency may apply – although it is certainly not in the spirit of the halacha as I’ve indicated above. The issues of potential overtime fees as well as the special arrangements these offices have with some musicians are additional reasons why in the case of a larger office it is logistically difficult to pay at the end of the gig and this may be implicit in the arrangement they have with their musicians. If so, then there is no violation of lo talin, although I believe there still would be a bittul aseh.

I’m not sure why the amount a musician is supposed to get paid would affect his status as a day laborer, though. My impression has been that it’s based on the length of time a worker is hired for.

For the sake of completeness, I should point out that the employee has to ask for payment in order for the obligation to kick in. Also, if the employee is aware that the employer only has money on certain days, then the obligation doesn’t kick in either. (This point may also be relevant to the following email from Uncertain Trumpet.) For a better understanding of the relevant halachos, I strongly recommend reading the entire Siman in Shulchan Aruch and the entire perek in Rambam’s Hilchos S’chirus.

I agree with David that quoting halacha to people who have clearly demonstrated a lack of concern with following it is usually pointless, but I do feel that there are some who act inappropriately out of ignorance. These people, who simply haven’t thought about what they’re doing and most likely are merely copying what they’ve seen others do, may change their behavior when made aware of these issues.

Incidentally, the band David refers to, Neshoma Orchestra, has a well-deserved reputation for always trying to take care of their musicians and do right by them. This should be standard operating procedure in any Jewish industry.

I couldn’t agree more with David’s final point. If more musicians would refuse to work for unethical contractors the industry would be in a much better state. When I started out in the biz and was looking for work, I didn’t work hard to get into the big band that is the logical first stop for musicians in our end of the business because most of the musicians I respected wouldn’t work for them. I have done a few gigs for them over the years, but only on last minute notice — I won’t hold a date for them — and I charge them a premium. And, there are many bands/performers I turn down when they call me because they’re not ethical or honest.

Finally, Uncertain Trumpet emails:
One of the problems compounding this issue is that bands are waiting longer and longer to get paid by some clients. Unfortunately, because of the bottom feeding tendencies of our business, even larger bands work on much narrower margins than they used to.
This has two direct results. One is that they may not be able to afford the staffing required to process payment properly. Another is that the money is simply not available to lay out for what could be dozens of musicians on a given date. Having said that, bands could be better about paying on time. So could Yeshivas. And Jobbers. And wholesalers. And retailers. And clients.
As I noted above, this may be a valid reason, but the employee needs to be made aware of the situation going in.

In summation, I believe that Lo Talin applies much of the time, especially in the case of smaller bands, and in situations where freelance musicians are used by larger bands. There may be some exceptions due to the "agency loophole", but even in those cases, it's only b'dieved, there is most likely a bittul aseh, and the spirit of the halacha is violated.

Lenny Solomon/Kesher Update

Via the Shlock Rock newsletter:
Here is the latest update on the new album. The new Lenny Solomon album will be called Tnu Lanu Siman or Give us a Sign. The album will be released on October 28 in Israel and November 1 in the USA . There are 13 songs on this album which is all in Hebrew. As mentioned before in this newsletter there are lots of surprises on this CD like four Kesher songs re-released to satisfy the fans who have been asking for years. For those not familiar - in the 1980's Lenny's first band was called Kesher which means Connection. They released 3 recordings in 1984, 1985 and 1986. Lenny wrote 13 songs on those 3 albums and people are always wanting to know when they will be re-released on CD. It could be that will happen in the near future but in the meantime, Lenny re-recorded four of the songs that he wrote for the band and they are on this new CD. So Kesher fans, you can now hear four of your favorite songs on this album.
It's past time Kesher rereleased their CD's or a greatest hits compilation, and did a reunion tour.

Easy Listening Punk Classics

CNN reports on punk rock yoga.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Jewish Press "Review"

The current edition of the Jewish Press includes a "Top Chai Review" of "Shabbos Comes Alive" by guest reviewer Alan Jay Gerber. (No link because it's not posted on their site.) We're pointing this one out because Mr. Garber apparently writes reviews by lifting verbatim from the liner notes. Virtually his entire "review" is a word-for-word version of portions of the liner notes. It even looks like he may have written this piece without listening to the album. There is almost no specific description of the music on this album and what there is could have been gleaned from the liner notes. Those of you with a hard copy of the J-Press can easily check this by comparing the review to the liner notes which are posted on the "Shabbas Comes Alive" website here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

On the other hand...

Stopping in at Sam Ash does have one advantage. They're the only music store that consistently has those cheesy free mags/newletters covering the LI and NJ metal scenes. You know... the ones in which the highest praise a band can receive for a performance is that they kicked ***.

These are the only place you get to read reviews like this (from Paragon music magazine's review of W.A.S.P. in Sayreville on July 31st, 2004):
Blackie had an awesome custom-made mic stand which looked like a giant spine with a skull and cross-bones at the top of it. He was able to jump on it and rock back and forth, and I must say, watching a guy near his '50's move around that much is VERY entertaining.
And, they've got pictures. Music journalism at its finest!

Dm Goes Shopping

I had to make a quick stop at Sam Ash today, and the experience reminded me of why I usually avoid shopping there.

Today's agenda was to replace a mic cable for tonight's gig. Simple enough. It generally takes me 1-2 minutes to order one online, but since I needed it today and I was passing Sam Ash anyway, I decided to buy it there. Here's how I think the transaction should have gone:

Step one) Enter store
Step two) Select mic cable from display rack which is located in easy-to-find and well-marked area.
Step three) check out

Assuming there's no line for the cashier, the entire procedure shouldn't take more than five minutes.

Here's what happens in "Sam Ash world."

Step one) Enter store
Step two) Wander into potential "mic cable section" of store.
Step three) Make eye contact with Sam Ash employees who are happily ignoring the only customer in their department.
Step four) Browse section looking for mic cables with no success.
Step five) Tell employee who finally deigns to offer help that I need a mic cable... with an on/off switch.
Step six) Try to explain to uncomprehending employee what "mic cable with on/off switch" means.
Step seven) Follow employee to another department where mic cables are located.
Step eight) Wait for said employee to give you mic cable.
Step nine) Ask said employee, who is seemingly just hanging around, for mic cable.
Step ten) Listen to employee explain that it's not his department.
Step eleven) Employee calls for assistance.
Step twelve) Another Sam Ash employee shows up and locates mic cable.
Step thirteen) Sam Ash employee locates "grabber" tool and takes cable down from hook on wall near ceiling.
Step fourteen) Original Sam Ash employee is wowed by concept of switch on cable and takes a moment to "check it out."
Step fifteen) Employees discuss who should get the credit for the sale. (They're paid on comission.)
Step sixteen) Employee enters item into computer.
Step seventeen) Employee manually fills out paper slip listing items purchased
Step eighteen) Employee instructs me to take said paper and the mic cable to the cashier.
Step nineteen) Cashier rings up sale on old-fashioned credit card unit, manually taking imprint of credit card.
Step twenty) Security guard -- who has watched checkout from about three feet away -- checks receipt to verify payment.
Step twenty one) Finally leave store, further commited to shopping elsewhere in the future.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Hashem is Where?

Hirhurim pens "Reflections on Returning from an Uncle Moishy Concert."

You're The Meaning In My Life, You're The Inspiration.

Psycho Toddler writes:
You know who has inspired me? A family friend, who once swore to us that he would never put his kids through a yeshiva education, who started learning in the kollel. That made me determined to get a chevrusa, though the needling of the frummies always made me want to keep out.
Lenny Solomon, who loves Rock and Roll and Star Trek, but insisted on taking an red-eye flight into Chicago before a gig, so that he would be able to catch a minyan there. After that I started going to minyan more.
Ruby Harris, who, during a break at an Irish Pub where we were playing, turned to me and asked, 'Are you taking time to learn a little everyday? You should do Daf Yomi.' That made me want to play in Bars more (just kidding).
Lenny Solomon... a true "Minyan Man."

PSA: Country Music May Be Hazardous To Your Health!

From Musical Perceptions:
In my high school speech class I gave a persuasive talk on the dangers of country music. I detailed the monotonous harmonic progressions that could hypnotize drivers; the suggestive lyrics that could encourage divorce, drinking, and truck driving; and the potential for certain vocal twangs to puncture ear drums. It was a very popular speech, and apparently one ahead of its time. Steven Stack of Wayne State University and Jim Gundlach of Auburn University have published a study of 'The Effect of Country Music on Suicide.' They found that listening to country music did cause an increase in the white suicide rate, 'independent of divorce, southernness, poverty, and gun availability.'
He's got a link to the study.