Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Insert "Pot" Pun Here

MoW writes about a Matisyahu concert she attended.

Various Matisyahu fans respond here.

Post Memorial Day Link Dump

LIFE-of-RUBIN takes on Country Yossi as well as Mostly Music.

ON THE FRINGE is quite the MSB fan.

Treppenwitz follows up on Jewish ringtones.

Here's a French J-music blog.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cross at Cross-Currents

Mississippi Fred Macdowell is calling out Eytan Kobre's recent post on Cross-Currents contrasting Bruce Springsteen and "The Gedolim". (Isn't "The Gedolim" a great name for a punk band?)
Why is calling attention to the plight and misery of thousands of reduced moral worth? Do we really need to diminish others to elevate our own? I have never heard of a gadol who moved to the third world to bathe and service pagan lepers, yet that is what Mother Teresa devoted her life to. Just as her awesome service to her fellow man* doesn't diminish acts of tzidkus from our own gedolim it shouldn't be necessary to diminish the acts of others to elevate our view of them.
I agree with the old bluesman.

Psycho Toddler Wants You

Psycho Toddler needs your help.

He's Got Your Number

Here's Treppenwitz on Jewish Ringtones.

Andy's Archives

The Forward reviews Tzadik's new release of Andy Statman's archival recordings from the '90's.

Amazon has it here:

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Tefilah Groups

I mentioned an Ed Alstrom song in an earlier post today. Here are the lyrics to his song, "Prayer."

Prayer by Ed Alstrom copyright Sophimatic Music (ASCAP)

Thank you God for the poor and the homeless and those without hope
Thank you God for the doors closed to a young boy now selling dope
For pestilence and urban blight, For streets we can not walk at night
For no solution to this plight we thank you

Lord, accept our reprimand for things we do not understand
We take the bitter with the sweet to make our feeble lives complete

Thank you God for the system which alleges to declare us free
Thank you for politicians, long on rhetorhic, short on morality
Forgiveness for mistakes made twice, For Hills and Flowers, Harts and Rice
For leaving us to pay the price we praise you

Lord, accept our skewered plea, We only call the way we see
To Thee our bloodied head we bow, we see the larger picture now

Thank you God for the sick and diseases which we cannot cure
Thank you for all the widows and for all those who cannot endure
For prolonged anguish, slow demise, For loved ones taken by surprise
For loss and grief in every guise we thank you

Lord, please give begrudging ear, our plea is sordid but sincere
To your beleaguered servants here, instruct us how to persevere

Thank you God for the dollars spent on scholars who won't even think
Thank you God for asylums and the mindless, and those on the brink
For thoughts confined by culture's fence, For truths devoid of common sense
For genius jailed by ignorance we praise you

Lord, forgive this rambling, at times the mind's a terrible thing
Promoting fights we can't depend, and plays we cannot comprehend

Thank you God for the stages and the rages that direct our whim
Thank you for the offenders and pretenders who make turnstiles spin
For moody, heartless autocrats, for show biz's jungle habitat
For genius starved in a squalid flat we praise you

Lord, we wish we understood why what sells is not what's good
And why a culture with such flair is just as backward as this prayer

Thank you God for listening to the musings of a jaded few
Thank you for all the answers you couldn't give us if you wanted to
For deities we can't defame, For Satan who won't take the blame
Forgive us God for taking aim, but here's at you

Lord, invoked for all that's great, where evil truly dominates
Save this world you put us on, save what's left before it's gone
Now, here are the lyrics to a Garth Brooks song "Unanswered Prayers."

Unanswered Prayers Written by Pat Alger, Larry Bastian, and Garth Brooks (ASCAP)

Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
I played both of these songs for the teens on an outreach program I participated in and use them as a trigger for an in-depth discussion on what tefilah is.

Points to ponder:
Which song better reflects a traditional approach to tefilah?
What is each songwriter's view of prayer?
Which songwriters view do you agree with? Any? Both?
Can you cite any sources to support either view?
Can you cite any sources to disprove either view?
Can you infer anything about the songwriter's faith from either song?

Pocket DX7

Music thing reports on an FM synth that runs on the Palm OS.

The Winds They Are A Changin'

The Jerusalem Post reports:
German rock veterans The Scorpions and Israeli teen songstress Liel Kolet have recorded a new version of the classic Israeli song 'Jerusalem of Gold,' which they will perform at a July 7 concert at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv.

A New Genre

Knitted Kipa pop-rock?

Yet More On Peeps In Da Hood

Psachya's comments generated more reader email.

Rhondda writes:
Reading "the accountant" and noticing the footnote reminded me of a day long ago [in a galaxy far away], no, in Hong Kong; our beautiful new JCC was about to open. At the time, it was frequently possible, if you were on the ball, to purchase used grand pianos from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts for extremely little. They would hold quasi-'insider' auctions a few times a year, you just had to watch the right notice boards. I passed along this info, right before an auction was going to be held, to the "programming committee" via the rebbetzin of the synagogue and the program director, both good friend who know things about music. You need to know here that pianos cost so much in HK that almost NOBODY actually buys them; they're rented. Except the Chinese ones that sound awful, those you can afford. Grand pianos?? unless you work for a major foreign bank, forget it. So here we had a chance to get hold of a seriously decent grand that would enable everything from chamber music concerts to purim spiels.... BUT, there was an "expert" on the programming committee, an amateur who fancied herself something more than that, who nixed this proposal thusly: "Oh, we don't need that. These days people just use electronic keyboards." No darlin', not chamber music, and not visiting artists doing violin recitals....

Hashem protect us from the input of amateurs...
An out-of-town bandleader emails:
I experienced a Dave Berg character recently:

I had just finished a wedding that started at 5 pm and finished after the mitzva tantz at 5 am. That's approx. 15 hours of work including set up and strike. So as I'm packing up, a guy is talking to me, and asks me, "So what do you do during the day?"

I then asked him, "so what do you do all night"?
Jordan emails:
I know those guys too.

There is a subset of the Carlebach Purist, which is the hippie musician Carlebach Purist, who knows all the Carlebach tunes and knows that Shlomo, who he has never met, wouldn't want a trumpet player to play on his tune, especially when the trumpet,(or sax or trombone) player played with Shlomo numerous times. Which is kinda like the Choson who once told me that he didn't want trumpets at his wedding because they sound so obnoxious. Then he told me that he loved Miles Davis, who played...wait, what instrument is that? oh yeah...... (His actual critique was against the Shiny Shoe Horn section style, with which I cannot really disagree.)

PS I played the job.
PPS Only Miles music though.
PPPS got paid sublead for it too.
He also comments:
Bob Smith was a Casio endorser for a while. His Funk-Fusion-R&B Band, Bob's Diner, used Casio keyboards. I know because he once gave me a Casio G-Shock watch for free.
The keyboard player in that band, Ed Alstrom, was the Product Manager of Casio's Keyboard Division for the better part of 16 years and occasionally writes reviews of "one-man-band" type arranger keyboards for Keyboard Magazine. I went to hear Ed play once a number of years back. His material was a lot of fun. He was playing with a trio. Call it arcastic, sardonic hipster jazz. I bought his CD, "The Record People Are Coming." I used to use one of the tunes off of that album, "Prayer", in a program on Tefilah I used to lead on a Jewish Awareness program for teens. More on that soon...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

More Reader Email - Peeps In Da Hood

This post is generating a lot of email.

Psachya Septimus writes:
A couple of more character sketches for you:

1) The Accountant: This is the chassidishe kid who asks, "How much cost deh speakehs? How much money you getting paid? How much cost deh Casio?" (PS - Has any professional musician ever played anything made by Casio?)

2) The Program Director: This is the guy who asks you, "So what song are you playing next? And after that? And after that? And after that?"

3) The Dave Berg Character (remember Mad Magazine's Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions?): An example: This guy is sitting there for 20 minutes, watching me shlep my keyboard, amp, speakers, music notes, etc. etc. up a flight of stairs. He turns to me and says, "So - are you the musician?"

4) Mostly Music's Favorite Customer: The guy who comes up and asks for a song by Yankel Klopper. When you admit your ignorance, he says, "How can you not know his stuff? His album's been out for two days already!"

5) Hora Lovers vs. Hora Haters: On one extreme, you have the bochur who runs up 2 minutes into the first dance yelling, "Hora! Hora!" On the other extreme, the lady who comes up 30 seconds into the Hora set yelling, "Can you please play something faster?" What a shidduch!
I've met all of these guys too.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Reader email re: Peeps in Da Hood

Got some email in response to our recent Peeps from Da Hood - The NY Simcha Scene.

Jordan Hirsch writes:
what about the rosh yeshiva's chamberlain, who insists (without saying please) on the band switching to Yomim when the Rosh Yeshiva (doesn't matter which yeshiva) pulls into the parking lot. Ai, if it's so important, why wasn't he there on time?
David Bogner writes:
Great list! One thing to add to the 'Dance Nazi' section is what was arguably the best bandleader reply to a dance nazi:

The scene was Beth Shalom of Lawrence. We were playing a typical set of 'Ladies dances' and the band had just mistakenly played the 'B' section of one of the songs once instead of twice. One of the 'Dance Nazis' came running over to the band and started screaming at the bandleader about "not knowing the music", and "if you're not going to play it right you shouldn't play it at all", etc.

The bandleader calmly looked at this vision of loveliness and said, "Lady... you should be so careful about kashrus!", and turned casually back to the band.

The thunderstruck look on that woman's face was one of the highlights of my musical career!

Lma'an Yamdu Yamim Rabim

Here's an interesting article on the Judaica Music Rescue Project.

Musical Inspiration - Updated

Here's a great story about violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Update:Velvel emails the following Snopes link.

A Rude Solo

Here's a cute story from a back-issue of the Local 802 News.
Herb Winner passed along a story he heard about a quartet in a New Jersey jazz club led by bassist Vinnie Burke. A noisy foursome at a front table was getting Vinnie's dander up. Jazz bassists are used to suffering with conversations during their solos, which are usually quieter than the rest of the music, thus providing people who have something to say with an opportunity to make themselves heard. Even other members of the band will choose the bass solo as the best time to strike up a conversation. But this group at the front table on Vinnie's gig was so loud that he couldn't hear anybody's solos. One woman had a voice that could have challenged a heavy-metal rock group.

In desperation, the quartet went into an up-tempo blues. And, instead of trading fours with the drummer, Vinnie had them all trade fours with the loud- talking woman. Each musician played four bars and then counted another four during which she continued to loudly hold forth, never noticing that the band was putting her on.

Wedding Venue Update

A Monsey Yid is recommending Beis Yaakov of Monsey as a wedding venue because affairs must be over by 11PM. He's also complimenting their remodeled bathrooms.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Rabbis Rule On Illegal Music Downloads

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)has issued a statement calling on the community to refrain from illegaly downloading music online.
Whereas the Internet has improved our lives by allowing people to communicate with one another around the world with astounding ease, access fast-breaking news reports, and conduct scholarly research from the comforts of our homes; and yet,

Whereas the Internet has also enabled people to illegally download intellectual property covered by copyright, particularly music, thereby depriving record companies and artists of royalties due them by law; and,

Whereas such downloading and deprivation of royalties constitutes theft which is clearly prohibited both by secular law and Halacha for both Jews and non-Jews;

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America hereby calls upon our entire community, including Jews of all ages, to desist from illegally downloading music, Jewish as well as secular, and other forms of entertainment, in order to comply with the requirements of Halacha and the law of the United States.
Via Hirhurim

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Peeps from Da Hood - The NY Simcha Scene

Here are short sketches of some of the characters we've run across recently who populate the NYC simcha scene.

1) The Carlebach Purist
2) The rude Yeshiva Bachur
3) The drunk Yeshiva Bachur
4) The spaced-out bandleader
5) The pompous Rosh Yeshiva
6) The dance Nazi

1) The Carlebach Purist is the person who comes over to criticize the band for playing/singing a Carlebach tune differently than Shlomo did. They are especially notable for the smug self-righteousness they feel at being able to impart this criticism; nevermind the fact that the song has become well-known in a slightly variant form over the years.

Recently, a Carlebach purist approached the band we were freelancing with to take issue with the way the vocalist had sung "David Melech" The purist felt that the last two bars of the A section needed to be phrased "David melech yisrael chai v'kayam" and the singer had sung those bars as "chai, chai, chai vikayam." "Listen", he said singing it his way, "the words make much more sense this way." Whatever.

Incidentally, Itzik Aisenstadt, a long-time Carlebach associate, who regularly corrects performers at the Carlebach Shul claims to have corrected Shlomo as well. If Shlomo sang the songs differently at different times, than arbitrarily deciding on an "authoritative" version seems both pointless and silly. In any event, it is the nature of folk melodies to evolve over time.

2) The rude yeshivah bochur we most recently came across was of the type who yells at the bandleader mid-song for not immediately handing over the microphone to his friend who "sang on Baruch Aboud's album." A pleasant specimen.

3) The drunk yeshiva bocher is the one who grabs the mic on "Moshiach" to yell "Oy, the Lubavitcher Rebbe" in place of the "oy, yoy, yoy" echo on the B section of that tune. Much fun is then had by the rest of the bochurim present who are thereby granted permission to yell "kofer", "yechi", etc. Nota Bene: This did not occur on Purim.

4) The spaced-out bandleader is the one who forgets that the affair is booked 'till 11 and tacks an hour-long set of "American music" requests to the end of a one hour simcha music set, so that he can get all the song requests played by 10. Needless to say, after a two hour second dance set, there was no more dancing and the affair actually ended early. Not that we're complaining about a party ending a little early after a two hour dance set.

5) The pompous rosh yeshiva is the one who insists on being introduced to be mesader kiddushin as "one of the gedolei hador." Personally, we'd be embarrased to be introduced like that. We've run across similar characters in the past too, like the out-of-town Rosh Yeshivah we've run into a few times, who stands near the band in the back, even though it's pretty obvious that if he's made the trip into NY for the wedding he'll be receiving some kind of honor under the chuppa. This way, he gets to make the long stroll down the aisle when his name is called. We particularly like the way he adjusts his frock before doing "The Rosh Roll" TM down the aisle to the chupa.

6) The dance Nazi is the woman who has requests for line dances no one else in the room knows, and who wants them played at much faster than normal tempi. She has a huge repertoire of "hits" from the early to mid-nineties that she wants to dance to, and there's no way she's going to let the musical needs of the party prevent her from getting all of them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Chopped Liverpool

From the Shlock Rock newsletter:
The 26th Shlock Rock CD is now in production. This is the ultimate Shabbat CD. A combination of Shlock Rock, The Beatles and Shabbat. It is due out August or September and it will have all of the traditional Shabbat Prayers and Zmirot set to the melodies of the Beatles. This album was the concept of "The Kraz" and he had to convince Lenny to take the idea seriously. But as Lenny started working on it he saw more and more how beautiful the melodies of the Beatles were and how they work with the words of Shabbat both in the synagogue and at home. Then, after the fact, Lenny was faxed a rabbinical ruling claiming that not only is it a Mitzvah to take secular songs and place them into the liturgy but it is an obligation. So everyone stay tuned as Lenny goes into the studio and comes out with Shlock Rock 26: A Shabbat in Liverpool. Please stand by!

Whatcha Looking At, Punk?

Here's a Commentator article on punk rock and Orthodoxy.

The concluding 'graps:
The best punk music drives 3 chord chops and screaming into your head with the ferocity of a riot. This leads me to a second anecdote. I heard from a Rabbi in the same Yeshiva mentioned above that Rav Aaron Kotler used to passionately scream at his students when he disagreed with them. One time, his student walked out of the room rather than continue the fight. Too impassioned to notice, Rav Kotler told the other students to throw that one out. They coughed nervously and explained that he already left, about ten minutes ago. "Well then drag him in and throw him out again!" Rav Kotler screamed.

Judaism and punk culture are completely compatible. That is Punk Rock.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Play It Again, Only Better

Musical Perceptions has an interesting post on using HD MIDI technology to recreate classic piano performances on better tuned/voiced pianos with superior recording equipment.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Destiny's Child To Play Bar Mitzvah

BBC News reports on the estimated $7.4 million dollar affair.

Update:Bloghead has more.

Friday, May 13, 2005

They're Listening, But Not Buying.

John Buckman writes about his recent experiment with marketing musc via internet radio station.

The Nightingales

Bloghead is asking for more about "Los Biblicos", but the commentors have already provided information.

Economics Lesson


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Music-Free Music

Sefirah at the Nachum Segal Show."Music-free music"???

The Wonder of It All

The Jerusalem Post reports:
Fifty thousand Germans have never before serenaded Israel with the Stevie Wonder version of "Happy Birthday" – but they will on Thursday.

Friday, May 06, 2005

More Basque Perspective

Here's another Basque commentary on the Jerusalem of Gold story, "Basque Lullaby for Jerusalem." Go and learn some history.

Sadly, the anti-Semites are coming out of the woodwork. Here's a post called Jerusalem of Goldberg. Ironically, the blog this appears on is named Thoughtcrime.

Basque Perspective

Luistxo Fernandez emails a link to his
"Basque Country" perspective
on the revelation that Jerusalem of Gold is a Basque melody.

More on Jerusalem of Gold

Bloghead weighs in with a post titled "Gold-plated Jerusalem?"

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Source of Jerusalem of Gold's Melody

Haaretz reports:
A few days before her death last June, songwriter, poet and Israel Prize laureate Naomi Shemer confessed to a friend that she had based the melody to her renowned song from 1967, 'Jerusalem of Gold,' on a Basque lullaby...

...In her letter to Aldema, Shemer wrote that she had heard the Basque lullaby sung by a friend, Nehama Hendel, in the mid-1960s. "Apparently, at one of these meetings, Nehama sang the well-known Basque lullaby to me, and it went in one ear and out the other," Shemer wrote.

"In the winter of 1967, when I was working on the writing of 'Jerusalem of Gold,' the song must have creeped into me unwittingly," she wrote.

"I also didn't know that an invisible hand dictated changes in the original to me. ... It turns out that someone protected me and provided me with my eight notes that grant me the rights to my version of the folk song. But all this was done, as I said, unwittingly."
Via Jewschool

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Monday, May 02, 2005

Catching Up

Last week, the Jerusalem Post reviewed Adi Ran's recent release "Ma Yesh Lachem Lid'og."
Ran's vocal style is what George Thorogood might sound like when he first rolls out of bed after a long night - a sound well-suited to the album's mood.

The tracks range from thrashy fast songs about Ran's love for the Almighty ("Ani Ohev") to slide-acoustic-guitary mid-tempo tunes about Rabbi Nahman ("Mitbonen" and "Haniggun Hamushlam," which is reminiscent of 4 Non Blondes' 1992 mega-hit "What's Up") to slow, soul-ish numbers like the breathtaking Hammond organ-driven "Odcha."
Blog in Dm reviewed this album as part of our Israeli CD roundup here.

Dschingis Khan/Yidden

Ben Bresky emails:
This week on The Beat with Ben Bresky, interview with The Klezmatics and an in-depth discussion on "what is Jewish music". I will be playing Yidden by Mordechai Ben David back to back with the Ghengis Khan song as requested by The Klezmatics.
Israel National Radio. Archived all week starting Sunday May 1st.

It's Time For Some Afikoman Presents!

Here ya go!

First, here's a free sample libraries of orchestral sounds and effects. An interesting idea!

Second, via Jewschool comes a link to emusic.com. They'll give 50 free mp3's to start and they've got some interesting stuff. Worth checking out. In addition to albums by Matisyahu and Hassidic New Wave, (I recommend "Kabology"; I seem to have misplaced my copy of it), they've also got interesting releases by Adrian Greenbaum, Theodassi Spassov, David Grisman AND Denny Zeitlin, Medeski Martin & Wood, Brad Shepik, and Veretski Pass among many others. Note: these are not all "Jewish" or klezmer recordings. Your tastes may vary!