Monday, January 31, 2005

Mini Link Dump

One of the perils of being a Chassidic pop star is that people recognize you!

The Rebbetzin has been quoting Pink Floyd.

Here's an interesting NY Times article on children's entertainer Ralph Covert.

From the mailbag...

Arkady forwards the following link (Windows Media Viewer required) and writes:
If covered by the the Jewish Music star(s), or the next "stars shift", i.e. the Young Lions, this could become a BIG ONE, to dwarf all Chazaks and Moshiachs put together...

Then, imagine the nightmare for Avremi G having to notate that melody for the horn players to play it, and trade Letters A, B, C ... Z with the guitar and keyboard players?!

The TRUE NIGHTMARE would be for 1-Man-Bands...

I can see the OYLAM standing in front of 1-Man-Band bandstands, and monitoring the accuracy of the melody being stated! Then, the SINGERS would be subjected to the same test of accuracy!!!

This HIT could become a litmus test for Hasidic performers' excellence:)!!!! Kind of like "The Giant Steps" Yard Stick of Jewish Music...

Soon after, SIMILAR HITS would follow. I.e., if this MEGA HIT will come out under the name of Punjab Hora, then the follow up versions will be called The NEW Punjab Hora, in keeping with the Jewish music tradition...

Then the ladies dance instructors would dispense their choreographic genius onto the Jewish women!!!

Hopefully the keyboard players will resist the temptation of trying to outdo each other with the re-harmonizations of this MEGA HIT, i.e. A Fresh New Sound in Jewish music...

The PURISTS will insist on the ORIGINAL version, so not to throw the Jewish Paula Abdul's off their choreographic Masterpieces routines...

Eventually this SONG will turn Chazaks and Moshiachs into Jewish business' equivalent of Old Time Rock And Roll, or Satisfaction, and we all shall reminisce about the good old Erev Bar days:) ... when we didn't have to "double" on our WiFi laptops in order to rock the house that "offices-bands-orchestras" have built...

Aided by multi tracks laptops (?!), the bands will create the Sonic Ha Kotel upon which the Towering Guitar Solos shall be erected in order to whip the sea of black hats into a Halachicly Correct Frenzy, which will hopefully
culminate into musicians' Good News Code words uttered by a victorious band leader -- "We are going over... Half hour...", i.e. half hour OT (over time)!!!

I strongly doubt that this lingo will be too inside for anyone, with maybe the exception of John Coltrane's Giant Steps. But, hey, that's what is for... :) or just ask a musician... :) And while at it, if need be, explain to that musician what OYLAM means:)...

Shalom Aleichem and Aloha onto yall:)...


Friday, January 28, 2005

BY of Monsey or Beis Feiga?

DovBear gets a wedding invitation.

More Matisyahu

Psycho Toddler shares some impressions of Matisyahu's concert last nigh at Turner Hall.

Reader "Who knows one" contributes two links:

A brief Denver Post review and profile.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

MC Hy-mish

The Forward reports. He's got an interesting mix of collaborators on his upcoming album, Wyclef Jean, the Dave Matthews Band, and cuban pianist Omar Sosa.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What's That About Artistic Integrity?

In a review of "Ne'imot Yitenu", Ben Jacobson observes:
Ne'imot Yiteinu was released independently, but following its release, the Shevet Ahim ensemble closed a deal with Noam Productions. This is especially encouraging for two reasons. Firstly, it indicates that even in the small niche market of Jewish music, it is possible for artists to move up.

Secondly, the fact that Noam Productions is interested in working with acts far outside the hassidic pop genre shows that even in Mea She'arim, a market exists for music that has far more artistic integrity and spirit than Mordechai Ben-David and his cookie-cutter peers.

1/26/ 04 Link Dump

Bloghead has a post on the chumra of the week.

Psycho Toddler gets the call for a dream gig... but it's on Yom Tov. Bummer!

Apparently, there's a huge demand for MIDI Bagpipes.

Rolling Stone repents.

And now, a musical interlude. Here's a pretty Jobim melody,"The Girl From Ipanema."

The All-mom bands are coming.

EMES sheet music is now up.

Finally, mentalblog has posted a link to a video clip of Matisyahu's appearance on Carson Daly's show. He's also posted a message to us.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Questioning CD Distribution

Kyle Gann has a question about album release schedules.
I appeal to my experienced readers to settle a dispute. I have been told by a couple of artists that the only way to break through the wall of public indifference and get attention in the press is to have a lot of work come out at once. A CD will pass unnoticed; release three CDs in quick proximity and people will suddenly think you’re on a roll, and treat you as important.

Now, it just so happens that I may have the opportunity to put out three CDs in 2005. And one of the record producers just told me exactly the opposite: that if you put out two CDs in quick succession, one of them will compete with the other, and each will only get half the attention it might otherwise have. Both of these opinions have been given to me in the strongest possible terms, with the presumed weight of vast experience behind them.
Interesting question.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

They're With The Band

Here's a Washington Jewish Week article on Jews in the U.S. Marine Band.

Music Articles

The Forward has an interesting piece by Seth Rogovoy on Sephardic Music

The Jerusalem Post has an article on the BBC documentary "Holocaust - A Music Memorial Film.


Confidential to the person who found us via this Google Search. Need a wedding band?

Money for Nothing, Prunes for Free

James Lileks is looking ahead:
I expect to be picking out prunes as a 75 year old man, dimly aware that “Money” by Pink Floyd is playing overhead.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Inauguration Update

The inauguration will not not be takana compliant. Will any of the Agudah rabbonim attend?

Me too!

Instapundit is music blogging.

No he didn't... Aaron did.

The Klezmatics are preaching the klezmer gospel!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Ben J. Breaks It Down

Ben Jacobson reviewsBeyond Eden's debut effort.
Led by Toronto's Chayim Newman, who sings lead and plays rhythm guitar, these guys combine many fashionable flavors in an interesting manner: Beyond Eden's boy-band visual image, post-yeshiva cheekiness, and pop/hip hop/rock-reggae sound come together in a package that is highly marketable to today's Modern-Orthodox youth.

After opening its latest disc, On the D, with the obligatory Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach cover that must appear somewhere in every Jewish rock recording, Beyond Eden punches us in the face with its unique attitude in 'Avenue J (Which Way is the Scene)'- an ode to global Jewish late-teen aimless fun, pre-Shabbat loafing, and the pursuit of all things trendy.

On the platform of a Linkin Park-style mixture of boy band rap-lite and hard rock, Newman flows with too many lyrical gems to cite here. Rest assured, however, that MC Newman is known to 'Chap a shmef with my bunch of goons,' and likes 'To hear every girl from Michlala / Checkin' my Marzipan and goin 'Oooh La La.''
Via The Town Crier

Blogs on Matisyahu

Psycho Toddler weighs in.

SklarO World too.

But not MoC. Yet.

Monday, January 10, 2005

K'neged Kulam

Matt's shiur this week was on "Kedusha of a Nigun."

Klezmer stuff

the KlezmerShack informs of a new book containing transcriptions of thirteen doinas and seventeen kal bazetsns, most for the first time in print. The music was transcribed by Cookie Segelstein and Joshua Horowitz.

Also via the Klezmershack, a website hosting mp3's of recordings by Belf's Rumanian Orchestra.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Friday, January 07, 2005

Sounds of Silence

According to CNET news, iTunes has at least nine tracks of downloadable silence.
As the site notes, Apple treats the silent songs just like their more musical counterparts. The silent tracks sell for the same 99 cents as other songs, feature free 30-second "previews" and are all wrapped in Apple's usual digital-rights management software to prevent unauthorized copying.
Via Chromatic Musings

Yet More Matisyahu Emails

Steven Weiss responds to MoC:
In response to Moc: From another with a MO perspective

"What is very clear is that as a direct result of the Mattisyahu gig, quite a number of 16, 17 and 18 year olds at HAFTR went to his gig at BB Kings (and, I think Irving Plaza), both treif nightclubs where drugs, alcohol, body surfing and other stuff goes on."

With all due respect, have you ever been to BB Kings? It's not like you buy a ticket and get a complimentary joint, and flask at the door. Your branding of the venue as treif is based on what exactly? BB Kings is a concert venue with great sight lines and sound. What Shul or high school auditorium will be able to provide music lovers with the same concert experience? MO high school students, do not need to go to a concert to score drugs and alcohol, believe me. I was once one of them.

" He was told by his daughter that she was going to a "Jewish concert" and he was actually very happy about that. He also reasoned that since Mattisyahu played at HAFTR, it must be kosher"

Sounds like he is able to communicate with his teenage daughter to me, the man should be commended. Remember this young MO lady went to a social gathering with 1,000 other Jewish kids, and listened to an artist sing about his love of G-d and his devotion to his faith. Perhaps she should have stayed home and watched hours of crap on TV, or surfed aimlessly on the internet instead?

"Many of these schools have drug and alcohol awareness programs and have (perhaps unsuccessfully) addressed issues of teenage sexual behavior."

Unsuccessfully being the key word here. If Yeshiva's would concentrate on instilling a love of Torah and Judaism from early on, instead of force feeding us everything, many of societies ill's would be less of a problem. Kids would have a better understanding as to why these vices don't jive with a Torah life, and discussions about enjoying Jewish music in a club setting wouldn't be necessary.

Also, C. Rubin writes:
I must say two things I feel very strongly .. and one thing on the web issue ...

A. Who says he (Matisyahu) asked HASC to be on their show ... id assume from his current explosion of success from out of nowhere ..HASC wanted one of the hottest names in JM on THIER show, and since they are obliviously doing it as a surprise they think its worthy of that type of excitement .. as Sruly Williger is not their surprise .. no offense to him ...
So my first point is he isn't "bringing his music" to the Frum/HASC world .. they possible though i think more so probably have invited HIM into THIER world (JM/HASC)

B. and in my own opinion the MOST IMPORTANT THING .. the parent has the MAIN responsibility in all of this as the buck stops with the father and mother when it comes to chinuch .. not the school, the shul, the kids friends, the kids musical interests ... the FATHER AND MOTHER, must say .. ok .. son or daughter where is this show? someplace called BB Kings .. in the city .. 8.30 at night .. hmm ... since i didn't grow up in Kansas .. I think its safe to assume i should check into this venue that has a show at 8.30 at night on a sat in the city .. it aint Edward R Murrow Hall -ya know ... don't give me this you know what - how the daughter says to the father i want to go to a "jewish concert" and he says ok .. dum did diddee doh ... that's so beautiful go wherever you want ... since its JEWISH ... what kind of lazy parenting is that??

If i dont want my kid being in that type of world or place, i will take an active role, making sure he/she is going to a kosher area, with music i deem as kosher being the parent, with friends who i think are kosher friends to be hanging out with .. dont blame all of the frum worlds problems on HASC and Matisyahu and Noah Solomon .. please ...

and regarding access to web sites .... same thing goes ... any "charedi" or frum household that has access to the web (were talking Ave J kids here ... not Williamsburg or 13th ave.) the parents should be monitoring the kids access as well, just as easily as they could go to Matisyahu's site and see his shows they could see anything else in the world including non jewish music bands, or a billion other things available on the Internet, use your imagination ... unless you think a kid going to a Matisyahu show in the city cause of the Internet is the worst thing ON THE INTERNET a frum kid could access ...
next .. a kid on 13th ave or in Monsey or in Williamsburg probably doesn't have NORMAL access to the web, and if he/she does .. either the access is severely limited and watched like a hawk ... or its some sort of weird rebel modern chaseedish monsey world, which in that case no amount of emailing or blogs can help ..

PS - I AM a parent so im not saying this as some snot nosed 16 year old kid .. im 32 and have 3 kids, one of whom is 9 and very often wants things I have to tell him he cant have .. being a parents is not easy but you cant hand it off to the "community" or "hasc" to raise your kids ...

Shabbat Zemirot

Miriam comments on the Ma Yofus article we blogged earlier:
Which makes me wonder -- why do we have so few songs for the Shabbat table? You would have thought that over the years many more would have been written, and if more were written (the Forward does mention a compilation of 127 appearing in the early 20th century,though I assume that includes many Seudah Shlishit one-liners), that more would have survived / stayed popular.
There are many great recordings of Shabbat zemirot; I don't know why more aren't popular.

Here's one excellent recording of Shabbat Zemirot:

The R' Yirmiya Damen Atika Kadisha series we reviewed here is also interesting.

More Matisyahu email

MoC emails:
Why do you limit your criticism of Mattisyahu, Soulfarm, Moshav, etc., to the "chareidi world" ? Drugs, alcohol and shomer negiah issues apply equally to the MO world. One example to illustrate my point.

Mattisyahu played at HAFTR during Chanukah. Moshav played at Mayanot (a girls high school in NJ). Whether, in a vaccum, these were good things or not is beyond the scope of my email and people can disagree.

What is very clear is that as a direct result of the Mattisyahu gig, quite a number of 16, 17 and 18 year olds at HAFTR went to his gig at BB Kings (and, I think Irving Plaza), both treif nightclubs where drugs, alcohol, body surfing and other stuff goes on.

I spoke to one parent about it. He had absolutely no idea about the nature of these nightclubs or that there were other acts playing with Mattisyahu. He was told by his daughter that she was going to a "Jewish concert" and he was actually very happy about that. He also reasoned that since Mattisyahu played at HAFTR, it must be kosher.

It wasn't kosher, not literally and not figuratively.

If Mattisyahu thinks that his gigging at nightclubs is 'kiruv' *(a very dubious proposition, but, again, not the point for now), good for him. But he should stay away from the MO yeshivas and the HASC concerts and other places where the results will be the opposite of kiruv.
I agree that these issues apply to the MO community as well.

The reason I distinguish between the communities is because in the MO community, there's at least some discussion of these issues in the schools. Many of these schools have drug and alcohol awareness programs and have (perhaps unsuccessfully) addressed issues of teenage sexual behavior.

The charedi kids are totally unprepared for this. The fact that the community regards them the same way once they go to a club, regardless of what they actually did there, is a disincentive for them to behave since they feel that they're already labeled "bad." For the most part, the charedi community doesn't distinguish between those who go to clubs, drink or dance at clubs, or do drugs and are promiscuous. As a result, once the line has been crossed by entering the club, from the teen's perspective, there's no reason to not do all the other stuff. All of the social barriers are gone. The only reason left would be common sense, which is often not a good enough reason for teenagers.

Simply Reviewed

Ben Jacobson reviews the Simply Tsfat live wedding album "Souls In Harmony."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

NewMusicBox on Klezmer

The latest issue ofNewMusicBoxhas alot of cool klez related stuff including an interview with clarinetist David Krakauer.

Via the KlezmerShack.

Just A Paramedic

Here's a new blog"The Night David Lee Roth Saved My Life."
In New York City's emergency rooms, medical care is undertaken by two different but equally important groups. The people who suffer injuries and illness, and David Lee Roth, who saves them. These are their stories.

From Karduner to Anthrax

A Simple Jew is seeking Jewish music's "Anthrax."

Reader Comments on the HASC Concert

Steven Weiss sends in the following two emails:
I read your blog from time to time and appreciate your outlook on the JM scene.

I want to preface this by saying that I work together with Yosi Piamenta, who as you know has chosen to bring his music to both Jewish and non-Jewish music fans, through the club scene in NYC and elsewhere.

If you check Matisyahu's website, and his concert listings on a site like Jambase, you will notice that Matisyahu's club gigs are not being pushed to the Charedi community. Matisyahu does many "Jewish" shows that are in environments that would be deemed appropriate by the parents of the kids in question. I think it's wonderful that a guy like Matisyahu can successfully present his music to a HASC audience one night, an an audience half-filled with Jewish hippies the next. Why can't there be a separation between the two worlds?

As far as being a role model goes. Considering the path Matisyahu's life has taken him I can think of no better role model for the Jewish youth of today's troubled world. His commitment to his faith is a testament to him as an individual.

Anyway just rambling off a couple of thoughts concerning your post...............
Now that I look at my earlier e-mail, I can see where my comment "you will notice that Matisyahu's club gigs are not being pushed to the Charedi community" doesn't hold much water because his gigs are obviously listed on Mat's website, which anyone can access. What I was trying to say was that Matisyahu seems to be trying to keep a clear seperation between the two different musical arenas in which he operates.
I happen to agree with some of what Steven writes. As I noted in the post he references, I think that Matisyahu has made a Kiddush Hashem in SOME of his public appearances. I think that he can be a positive role model for some. I also don't neccessarily have a problem with Jewish artists performing in clubs -- I do think that a positive presence by Jewish artists in such venues has a positive impact, although I don't feel that it's for everybody. (The personal challenges those artists may face as a result of booking these kinds of performances and the issues raised are a different discussion for perhaps another time.) I also think that there CAN be a seperation between the two worlds.

To illustrate: Years ago, I saw Piamenta perform at the old Knitting Factory on Houston Street many years ago with Bentzi Gafni, Shlomo Deshet, et al. I personally don't take issue with those kinds of performances. There are many Jewish performers I respect who play in clubs, but there are clubs... and there are clubs.

My primary criticism of Piamenta's (and others) bar and nightclub performances is because they started marketing those shows to the youth in the frum Brooklyn community. I remember seeing posters in the kosher pizza shops advertising things like "Simchas Beis Hashoeva at Wetlands." Piamenta wasn't the only group selling himself this way. Inasense, now Soulfarm, also began marketing themselves that way at about the same time. This type of gig promotion coincided with another shift; both of those bands, who had primarily been playing venues like the Knitting Factory, The Lone Star Roadhouse, and The Bitter End, where people sat and listened to the music --dancing was prohibited in those places-- began to perform in clubs like Wetlands and much later B.B. Kings, where there is a huge dance area directly in front of the band, and few seats. The vibe in some of those places is quite different from the "listening venues." For instance, the crowds tend to be wilder and rowdier and there is much more obvious drug use. Wetlands, which is now closed, always reeked of weed, for instance... especially in the downstairs lounge area.

I recognize that these bands may not have started out going for the frum teen demographic at their shows, but they can not have missed that that's who they were attracting. Here's Soulfarm's Noah Solomon :
It already happened - they've already scared off everybody. Some of my friends just told me "Dude I can't hang any more. I like your music but I can't deal with the crowd." We've just come to realization - that's what it is in New York right now. Out of the city it's not like that. But they're really keeping us going, these kids, coming to concerts, supporting us, buying CDs and all. And they will grow up and, soon enough we'll have a sophisticated audience that have been with us for quite a few years.
These bands were not and are not unaware of who is coming to their shows.

My opinion on the Jewish bar band scene was very much firmed up by the goings on at one Inasense concert I attended at Wetlands. I'd seen the band perform a number of times in the early days -- when I was often the only kipa-wearer in the room - and since I hadn't seen or worked with the members in a few years, I thought it would be nice to catch the show and catch up with them. What I saw was quite disturbing. I'd estimate the crowd at that show at approximately three hundred, with about eighty-five percent of that consisting of frum teenagers (mainly underage) and a nice percentage of those being from Brooklyn. (You can spot a frum Brooklyn teen in a nightclub from a mile away.) Many of them were dancing in front of the band, and there was a lot of drinking, drugging, and er, not being shomer negia, going on. Many of these kids were there because the show was quite succesfully marketed towards them, and NOT because they were out experimenting or exploring NYC nightlife. In my opinion, the vast majority of these kids would never have entered a venue like Wetlands at that stage in their life, absent the marketing for these gigs by bands like Piamenta and Soulfarm. The Moshav band later joined the scene too, and more recently, I've been critical of Blue Fringe playing some shows on that circuit as well for the same reason.

With regard to Matisyahu... he may be attempting to maintain a distinction between his "kosher" performances and his club gigs, but the reality is that given his PR success, that distinction is impossible to sustain at this point. If he's promoted to the frum community as kosher through being featured at the HASC event and the prominent retailing of his album, then when he plays a club in the city, the frum kids will be there even if there are no posters announcing the gig hanging on Avenue J.

I recognize that he's already drawing a large number of these teens to his shows in NYC. HASC's featuring him will only increase that number and lend it an air of community sanction. When adults decide to go hear music in a bar, that's a personal decision. When naive kids are lured into an enviroment they're not prepared for, the artists and promoters share the responsibility, and when I refer to promoters in this context, it's not only the promoters of the bar show, but rather all who are selling this artist.

As such, HASC has a moral responsibility to its audience, and to those in the black hat/yeshivish/chassidish communities who support it, to not promote anyone who will attract their kids to what they view as unsavory locations or lifestyles. I believe it is an implicit social contract.

This is independent of any judgements on Matisyahu (or any of these performers) music. As an aside, I suspect that a large part of the HASC audience will not "get" Matisyahu's music. Incidentally, for similar reasons, many tzedaka organizations have either ceased or severly curtailed the "Young Leadership" activities conducted under their auspices. As a reader wrote: "Ultimately the responsibility lies with the artists themselves as well as the parents, and the community." I assume that HASC sees itself as part of the community.

One final point. The fact that Matisyahu appears to be a surprise guest prevents those concert goers who are concerned about this issue from making an informed judgement on whether or not to attend.

Mah Yofus Sheet Music

In the print edition of this week's Forward.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Inauguration Entertainment

AP reports: :
Guy Hovis, a vocalist from Tupelo, Miss., who performed on the Lawrence Welk show, will sing, 'Let the Eagles Soar,' a song written by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Judging by the title, Ashcroft's song is worthy of inclusion on a Hassidisco abum.

Al Hamichya V'al Hamusika

Allegedly catchy tune here.

Jewish Compositions

Crossing the Rubicon2 has posted a list of standards and Christmas songs composed by Jews.

Here's the Christmas list:
“White Christmas” by Irving Berlin
“ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by Johnny Marks
“Let it Snow” by Sammy Kahn and Julie Styne
“Silver Bells” by Livingston and Evans
“ Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” by Mel Torme

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

New Jewish Music Venue

Check out the Jewish Music Cafe, a neat new JM venue in Park Slope.

Hat tip, Malkie Stern.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Music For Tsunami Relief

A number of musicians from around the world (USU, UK, Netherlands, and Australia) have collaborated on a tune that can be downloaded here. There is a suggested donation of $2.80 and 100% of the funds generated go to the Disasters Emergency Comittee.

Pick A Tuning

Is this the world's smallest guitar tuner?

Via Music thing.