Wednesday, September 27, 2006

9/27/06 Link Dump

Emes Ve-Emunah writes on "Catchy Tunes for the Yamim Naraim".

The Jerusalem Post profiles Chinese-American-Jewish-Jerusalemite singer Hadassah Lee.

Esther Kustanowitz writes about Girls' Night On for the Jewish Week.

Mo C's got some "peeps" in his shul!


Off-Key Harmony Guy: He sings 'harmonies' at the top of his lungs. Unfortunately, he is on key 10% of the time.

Off-Tempo Clapping Guy: It's bad enough to have someone clapping loudly in my ears. When they are off beat, it can drive me to distraction.
So, that's where they go when they're not attending simchas!

Downtown Composer John Zorn won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.

Monday, September 25, 2006

First Disc Reviews of the New Year

In the mail... Baruch Levine's latest, "V'zakeini Legadel Banim", Ari Goldwag's "Flippin' In", and Avraham Fried's "Bein Kach U'bein Kach" ...a pair of discs by Sam Glaser and one from Lee Feldman.

Sam Glaser - Presence
I first discovered Sam Glaser's music when a friend whose father worked in Jewish education handed me a compilation cassette promoting a number of Jewish artists. I can't recall all of the artists on the compilation, but if I remember correctly, in addition to Sam's song, "Hineni," it included music by Safam, Craig Taubman, and Doug Cotler, among others. Shortly afterwards, I was given Sam's album, Hineni, which I liked a lot. It had a hip contemporary sound with slick LA-style production, something that, at the time, wasn't that common in Jewish music. Think adult contemporary pop with Jewish soul. That was about fifteen years ago. A dozen CDs later, Sam Glaser is still creating polished contemporary Jewish music.

Presence features fifteen of Glaser's original songs arranged in his signature style. Blending Hebrew lyrics from liturgy with his own English translations and original lyrics, Glaser creates a smooth mix of original Jewish pop, melding his polished vocals and layered keyboards with well-played backup playing by his band and glossy studio production technique. From opener "Ma Ashiv" to the pop-funk of "Presence" and "Sheyibane" to the contemplative sounds of "Boi V'shalom" this album is tasteful Jewish pop music. Incidentally, "Boi V'shalom," was recently nominated for best Jewish song of 2006 by Just Plain Folks.

The CD is available from Sam's website.

Sam Glaser & RebbeSoul - Nigun: Voice of the Soul
This project is a collaboration between Sam Glaser and guitarist Bruce Burger aka RebbeSoul. It's got nineteen tracks of nigunim. Most of these are original compositions by Glaser, with one by RebbeSoul and five covers. The covers are of a Breslover Tune, "Im Ata Ma'amin", a Modzitzer melody often called "Adam Harishon's Nigun", Carlebach's 'Mizmor L'David", and two Lubavitch melodies, Rabbi Feitel Levin's "Rosh Chodesh Kislev" march and the "Alter Rebbe's Nigun".

With no lyrics, other than yai dai's etc, these songs reflect the influences of nigunim past, but have a distinctly American-Jewish flavor. The musical sensibility is world-beat and draws from a nice range of influences. Glaser and Burger are well-matched for this outing. There are some guest musicians as well with Reuben Berci's accordion adding some especially nice color to the opening track,"Aliyah", a fun reggae-tinged number. The Carlebach tune, "Mizmor L'David", was arranged by the Moshav Band, who also contribute guitars and dumbek to the Middle-Eastern flavored track.

Guest vocalists include Dov Rosenblatt, Gershon Veroba, and Yehuda Solomon.

This CD is also available from Sam's website.

Lee Feldman - I've Forgotten Everything

This is not Jewish music per se, but Lee Feldman is a nice Jewish boy who sent me his latest CD.

I've Forgotten Everything is an eclectic CD that blends nice piano-based arrangements with Lee Feldman's Rhorsach-like lyrics. They're as deep as you want them to be. Blending irony and wit, seasoning with tasteful piano improvisations and grooves, Feldman and his band --a tight group-- sing and play sensitive songs about uncomfortable situations. Tin Pan Alley on Prozac.

You can buy Lee's CD's here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Peeps This!

Psachya writes:
Just finished my season, & thought I'd pass on a couple more "peeps" (don't blame me, you started this up again) -

- The Hurry-Up-and-Slow-Down Rabbi - this is the mesader kidushin who arrives 45 minutes late, brings the wrong ksubah, takes forever to get the right documents signed, & keeps the guests waiting by the smorg for TWO & A HALF HOURS, leaving guests to mill around long after all the food is gone, with the band scrambling to dig up ancient boring-smorg-music. Then, about 20 seconds after the badeken, he's screaming at the bandleader, "Why aren't you guys set up by the chupa yet? We'll miss shkiah!!!" We run into the chupa room, set up feverishly, only to wait another 20 minutes for the ceremony to start. Meanwhile, the rabbi is telling anyone who will listen that if they miss sunset, it's all the band's fault. (True story - only a slight exaggeration.)

- The "Holy Neshomele" - a variant on some previous peeps. This is the guy who comes up to you at any point during the dancing (and occasionally during benching) and yells, "C'mon! Play "yay-di-di-da-ay yay-di-di-da-ay!" (the now-ubiquitous Neshomele Nigun). He inevitably assumes you don't know the tune, so he has to yell it loudly into your ear. He is then mortally offended if a) you don't immediately launch into it, or b) you don't play it for at least a half-hour straight, in every conceivable tempo, or lack thereof. (I'm waiting patiently for this particular trend to run its course...)

- The Matisyahu Fan. Related to the Blue Fringe Fan, the Beyond Eden Fan, the Moshav Band Fan, the Chaim Dovid Fan, the Yosef Karduner Fan, and the Aharon Razel Fan. No knock on any of these guys - just don't expect the average Jewish club-date band to duplicate their sound or automatically know their entire repertoire. (Maybe that says more about us than about them...)

- The Ambassador. This guy (or gal) says, "The groom (or bride) wants you to start a dance set RIGHT NOW!!" This, 30 seconds after the bride (or groom) personally came up to the band and informed us that their feet hurt and they want some nice quiet dinner music for a while.
I've got some more too.

The "Renegotiator". The "Renegotiator often, although not always, works for a tzedaka organization. After the gig, they'll try to get the musicians -- who may just be playing the gig for an office and have no idea of the price charged -- to reduce the fee and/or donate a portion of their earnings back to the organization. This doesn't happen too often, but it's quite uncomfortable when it does. Especially when the band/musician is already playing at a discounted rate.

The "But It Cost Less Last Time Guy". This is the person who calls you for a gig and insists that you charged them much less last time. Even though you have the contract and cancelled check from the last time around.

Note, sometimes the "Renegotiator" attempts the "but it cost less last time" manuever too.

From the mailbag...

Ron Benvenisti writes:
I am pleased to announce the formation of a new program for Lakewood Community residents which will be tailored to the needs of the OrthodoxJewish children and adults. Please see: for more information.
E. writes:
now i know why we are so messed up!

The entertainers have the "leading poyskim" worrying so much about how to compose the latest diatribe in CD copying they missed many years of deceit in Kashrus. Priorities, people! (and dont tell me the priority is keeping people from transgeressing and not as all the claimants have written, protecting the poor singers' parnasah.)
Daniel Greenwood responds to the Jewish hip-hop video we posted a few days ago.
Dont know.My 1st impression is not very good music.I can understand if the Artist does it and there is Artistic merit in it,well that's cool.I heard Ta Shma and I was impressed 'cause it sounds good.The 1st rule is are you copying someone else?If so you are not being yourself.Music is music.I like it when it's good!I like it more when it's creative and original.
PT writes:
I don’t know if any of your readers said this yet, but this “rental agreement” looks very similar to an abbreviated version of the End User’s License Agreements that we all click “I agree” to without reading whenever we install a piece of software. It’s very common and pretty meaningless.

9/20/06 Link Dump

MO Chassid on English lyrics.

Here's some Jewschool commentary on the recent Oyhoo fest. Here's more.

In related news, Y-Love offers a classy apology.

Circus Tent writes about Andy Statman on NPR

Check out track two for some timely music from Ethan Leifer. Music of the Night Season.

Kesher Talk has been posting Teshuva contemplations with an mp3 of a Jewish song related to the theme.

Darn! We missed this eBay auction for Anti-Jewish Sheet Music.

Mo C guest posts at DovBear on copying music.

Jewschool discovers the skeleton in Miri Ben-Ari's closet. (It's a Shelly Lang production.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

CD Rental Education

Here's an education alternative to the CD rental nonsense approach. It's an educational video from Sameach Music.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

From The Mailbag...

Anya writes:
Ok, so here's the thing - there is this video on YouTube:

Jewish Hip Hop Strikes Again

--shot in Jerusalem, guy in Yeshiva rapping about consciousness and whatnot - I want to know what people think? Do people buy frum guys in the hip hop world or do they just chalk it up to a Matisyahu wannabe? Kind of a social experiment. Can you help me out, perhaps post on your blog or send it around to others?
Dave Kerner writes:
Hi, this is David, from I hope all is well with you. I see my good friend and band-mate Zal has weighed in on the 'roots of Jewish rock'.

This email is to mention two events that JCRC is cosponsoring - the Jewszapalooza concert this Sunday at Riverside Park - - and the National Solidarity Rally for Israel on Wed., Sept 20, 12 noon at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th and 2nd Avenue) .

Blue Fringe is scheduled to perform at Wednesday's rally.

If you'd like to let your readers know, that would be great.
Mordy writes:
i don't know if this interests you, but i'm trying to start a Fight Club style debate about the 10 best jewish albums ever. it's up on my personal blog:
A reader writes:
Rental schmental. Wald put out a CD?
Ron Benvinisti writes:
The "creativity" of our monopolistic Jewish Music distributors never ceases to amaze me. It is invariably confined to the domain of their wallets and bank accounts. It's unfortunate and probably tragic, by this and other dubious practices, that the artist's creativity and inspiration suffers. I don't think for a minute that they are trying to protect the artists (I have heard too many stories from the artist's perspective about how contracts and commitments are honored). This is a great example of the creative rationalizations some in our community come up with to usurp the rights and finances of others. I, for one, am glad to see that many of the really "creative" ones eventually wind up behind bars. To me, this is a World Class manifestation of Chilul Hashem, that is most likely indicative of a massive ice formation just below.

Next time I buy a CD from one these outfits, I will leave the following with the cashier:

I, __________ am purchasing this CD under the conditions that the distributor make publicly available any and all records pertaining to production and sales including amounts and percentages paid to subcontractors, artists and other personnel (including relatives, friends and charitable organizations) as well as copies of the contractual agreements regarding them.

If said documentation is not provided within 10 days of this purchase, as per the Federal Office of Information Act then the entire cost of this purchase will be refunded in cash to the purchaser within 30 days of the original purchase.

(If someone wants to do the official looking Hebrew "psak" version, Kol HaKavod")
E. writes
There's a very simple solution to this whole business.

Tell the Jewish entertainers to quit kranking out albums that only have one or two songs even worth listening to, much less paying for with 8 to 12 additional tracks that are just there to fill space. Tell them to forego that unnecessary expense, and release singles or EP's or whatever you want to call them that only have 1 or 2 tracks on them. Perhaps then people will pay for the one or two songs that you have them shelling out the entire $17.50 for in the first place.

Another point of many: It is silly to assume that many "hundreds of thousands" of dollars are being lost by people transferring multuiple song files who ordinarily would never be able to afford the many albums from which they derived in the first place.
"An Anonymous Jewish Music Insider" writes:
I told a few people about this rental thing in Shul on Shabbos and they laughed at me. They thought I was making a joke. This is not the right way to deal with it. They right way to deal with it is to educate people that stealing is wrong. We have to respect the laws of this country and the law says you are NOT ALLOWED to burn a copy for someone who has not paid the artists/producer for it. People have to be reminded that this is the law and the truth is that the copyright holder does indeed have the power to take people who copy to court just like the RIAA did and still is doing today.

The answer is NOT going to come through playing silly word games. A person who is going to copy is going to copy whether its a "rental" or a "sale", this isn't going to change anything it is only insulting to the consumers of Jewish Music.

The industry must impress upon people that sales numbers are much lower than the public might assume and if 10 kids in 20 Yeshiva's copy the newest (insert artists here) CD, that is a loss of 200 unsold CD's. Maybe people think the artists are all rich and they can take the financial hit. I can tell you that isn't true. But let's just for a moment pretend it is true. What you may not realize is that there are other people who rely on these CD's to sell in order to make a Parnasah. There are composers, arrangers, mixers, individual musicians who provide the music, adult choir members. The Judaica stores and sales people who stock the stores. The companies which duplicate the CD's, the men who deliver them to the stores, the graphic artists that designs the CD's, the printers who print the CD booklets and posters that are hung. The Jewish newspapers which rely on advertising dollars from the artists/producers of these CD's and so on and so on and so on.

Every copy which is made unlawfully hurts every single person involved in this process and although one person by himself with his friend may not think they are impacting the big picture. Just remember there might be 100 more people like you who are thinking the same exact thing. It all adds up in the end. I would just hope that people would try use some common sense when it comes to this matter and do the right thing.
David writes:
As long as you brought up the concept of "Dina D'malchusa", let me point out that according to the New York State law, children under 14 years old must wear helmets while riding bicycles or skating (

I cannot comprehend the number of kids from observant families I see zipping around on their bikes, without helmets. Aside from the statistics that clearly indicate that if their kids are wearing helmets they're much safer in the event of an accident, its the law. And let's not forget that you can't enjoy Jewish music unless you have a functioning brain.
Finally, the music industry insider whose email we posted in our last post responds with a few points:
1) it is not a scheme or silly it is an attempts to do what ever is necessary to save this industry. all the other warnings didn't work. i agree it is a shame but what shall we do?

2) its not aimed at the sellers they are beyond help its aimed the people buying trying to tell them in any way possible that it is wrong.

3) when people steal from u u dont worry about being condescending or insulting u do whatever u can to save your self yes it is a desperate situation

4) its not fake it was composed by experts on halacha in conjunction with leading poskim it takes away the supposed heter from those people who rely on rabonim who feel that if one buys it it is theirs and they dont care about dina demalchusa

5) it is with daas it is on the outside cover
We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. We obviously have very different perspectives on this.

I’m convinced of the following:

1) Insulting all music buyers because some act inappropriately is counterproductive.
2) This scheme makes the entire JM industry look bad.
3) This is not halachikly or legally binding. The note on the outside cover is meaningless, even if you can assume that the buyer read and understood it.
4) This approach will not accomplish anything.

I do agree that there's a problem and I think that education is a part of the solution. But, that education needs to be based on mainstream law and halacha, not a “chap”. Do you really think that “all poskim” (who apparently can’t agree on anything else) will agree that this “rental” has halachik validity?

The other part of the solution has to involve the industry adapting to the reality of downloading by making individual tracks available from a reliable source at a reasonable price. I suggest signing with iTunes.

One final point. Those taking the lead on educating the public about “intellectual property rights” need to have clean hands. For example, if artists with a history of borrowing other musicians songs without permission or attribution, or a record label with a history of dishonest business practices become the public face of the industry on this issue, people will respond cynically.

I think it would be helpful if the industry would support a PR campaign to increase public awareness of the damage done by illegal copying/downloading, but this isn’t the way to do it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

More CD Rental Mishegas

J. forwards a link to a Yiddish Hyde Park discussion of the subject.

A music industry insider writes:
here's the story about copying CDs
b"h most people don't copy and its enough that we right copyright or duplication is not permitted
Hundreds of thousands of dollars a year is lost in this business because people copy download etc because they say they bought it and they can do what they want with it
they even have some "rabonim" to rely on
in case u didn't know we ( the business) recently busted (stopped not arrested) a guy selling a hard drive full of songs about 5000 songs for $50
there are many others doing this we are working to stop this but we cant stop them if people continue to buy from them
so this rental agreement is basically a last resort to try to stop those people that still do it believing its ok lehalacha
your quote The standard "All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws." works unfortunately incorrect
kesiva vechasima tova
Downloading/illegal distribution of music is wrong and needs to be addressed, but the music industry isn't served by schemes that make it look bad. This rental agreement is silly and is bad for our image. Does anyone honestly think that someone who is selling a hard drive full of copyrighted material will stop because of this rental agreement?

It also insults the vast majority of honest purchasers. Does the industry really want to do that? Even when we address issues of piracy, we have to do it in a way that isn’t condescending or insulting to our listeners’ intelligence. One recent CD release included a video message against illegal duplication that, although it may not been intentional, was widely viewed as condescending. Is this really the way to go?

Finally, I can't see a rationale for this scheme that doesn't either explicitly or implicitly say that Orthodox Jews as a community don't respect copyright law. IMO, this implication is a profound chillul Hashem.

The writer asserts that this is a "last resort" to get people who believe its "OK lehalacha" to stop doing this, but also mentions that there are "rabonim" who permit it. If these people's rabbis say its ok to distribute pirated music, how would a fake rental mitigate the problem? Aren't those rabbis likely to reject the rental on clear halachik grounds? Although those rabbis are wrong on the downloading, they'd be right with regard to this rental.

I'd be surprised if any posek would uphold a "rental" made without the "da'as" of the purchaser. In a letter to the industry posted on the above linked Hyde Park forum, Mendy Wald writes of an education campaign about this concept and asks the industry to support it financially.

Here’s Wald’s missive:

Dear Friend 

As we all know, the Jewish music business has been plagued with unauthorized copies. Many are copying & file 
swapping etc. Especially lately, with the advent of MP3, where its very easy to transfer many songs in split seconds 

Our livelihoods are at stake. I have been pondering how to tackle this for a very long time, & I'm sure everybody else 
was also thinking, how to stop this robbery of our livelihoods 

By the way, I just heard today, that there is a yungerman in Lakewood that transfers songs to IPOD for FREE. When 
asked why, he said that Reb Dovid Cohen says its muttar. Whoever can do something about that, should do so 
ASAP. Perhaps Reb Eli Cohen can help 

Also, I was asked many times by customers that called Mostly Music, if they are allowed to transfer songs to their 
friends IPODS. Many people really dont think that there is anything wrong with it. Thats why its so much more 
important to counteract on this issue 

I recently came across a Sefer by the title of Emek Hamishpat Volume 4 "Zechuyot Yotzrim" its a 500 page Sefer 
detailing all the Shitos concerning copying. Anyway, there is a Nusach in that Sefer, that, according to the Mechaber 
of that Sefer, Harav Yakov Avrohom Cohen, will prohibit copying according to ALL of the Rabbanim. [By the way, he 
will be in New York in the next couple of days. If you want to contact him for any reason, I will get you his cell 
number] I translated the nusach into English, so that we have it in both Loshon Hakodesh & English. Basically, its a 
agreement, not a sale 

A product can be rented with any restrictions that the renter [in this case, the artists, or copyright holders] wants the 
rental terms to be. Read the agreement & you will understand 

see this link 

I think that its very important to get as many artists as possible to be part of this "Rental only" situation. On the new 
CD's , we should have the Agreement in full on the inside, & on the back of the CD, a WARNING: This product is not 
for sale. You can only rent this product as per the rental terms. Ask your store for a copy, or online at 

On the older CD's, there should be a sticker with a similar message 

We should also put up posters in all the streets & in all of the Jewish papers, about this new approach. I think that it 
definitely will help to stop this problem. Even if it doesnt help all the way, it will nonetheless help in some way 

If you have any suggestions, I'll be glad to implement them. We are also going to need some money to get the 
message out. I am willing to help get this thing out to the street, but i also need your help. Let me know, how much 
you want to contribute. I've already spoken to some newspapers about getting some free space to advertise & they 

- Here is the language for the posters & ads - 

No More Sales 

The owners Jewish music & movies & computer programs are having a major problem. It is called file swapping or 
copying - that is when someone emails or copies a song or file & gives it to a friend. Hundreds of thousands of 
dollars are lost every year due to these unauthorized copies. We, the owners of these produts, make our parnassah 
from these CD's, tapes, programs etc. Our livelihood is suffering in a very distinct manner 

There are many who found Heteirim [Loopholes] to allow them to copy. First of all, according to most poskim copying 
is not allowed at all. Harav Moshe Feinstein, Minchas Yitzchok, Harav Eliyashuv, Harav Wozner, Harav Fishel 
Hershkowitz & many more [See the attached letters, see also the Sefer Emek 
Hamishpat Vol. 4-Zchuyot Yotzrim - 500 pages] have ruled that copying is assur [forbidden] 

Would you eat meat that according to most poskim is assur? Then, why would you want to play with Lo Sigzol? 

We spoke to Rabbinical authorities about the copying problem & they came up with a nusach [agreement] to 
which ALL Rabbinical authorities agree - it is a rental agreement- not a sale. This agreement allows the renter to 
specify exactly what type of usage will be allowed by the renters. 

This is going to be the ONLY way that we will distribute our music, movies & computer programs in the future
If the public is made aware of this rental concept, it might make some difference from a halachik perspective for buyers who are aware of it and accept the terms at the time of purchase, but if we're going to invest money and energy to educate people, why not educate instead about the illegality of downloading, the financial harm to the artists and producers, and the concept of supporting artists work by buying their music and attending their shows? Why invest all that effort to educate about a dubious rental concept instead?

There is a body of law related to music rights. There is a halachik concept that recognizes those rights. It's called "Dina D'malchusa." I'd suggest an education campaign around this topic instead. Of course, it would mean that the industry would have to acknowledge that the law and halacha do occasionally allow for copying/sharing music, something they’ve been misrepresenting. For example, it is clearly permissible for a purchaser to make a copy of a CD to play in their car, a right protected under US law, yet the industry likes to pretend that this is also impermissible. There are other scenarios as well that are likely permitted i.e. sharing mixtapes with friends.

(As a side benefit, encouraging the community to respect dina d’malchusa will have positive impact in other areas as well. It might even have a direct impact on the number of “heimishe” doing time in Otisville!)

Although the e-mailer above pegs the damage to the industry at "hundreds of thousands of dollars", it's unclear what the extent of the damage is. The only thing that's certain is that the J-music industry doesn't know either. To my knowledge, there has been no research into how widespread it is or what the losses to the JM industry are. Even the secular industry has no idea of their losses.

To take the example mentioned above, someone selling a hard drive with 5000 songs is clearly infringing. However, assuming an average of 10 songs per CD, are we really going to assert that all (any?) of the buyers would otherwise have purchased all 500 CD's? Clearly there is a loss of some sort of CD sales, but its hard to determine precisely what that damage is.

And, although this isn't a justification, there is sometimes a positive benefit to the industry when some people discover artists through downloading/file sharing and then go out and buy their recordings and attend their concerts. Many secular bands offer free downloads for precisely this reason. It helps drive sales.

In short, an education campaign is a good idea, but it needs to be based around the law, not legal fictions that won’t hold up in court or beit din.

Additionally, the industry needs to arrive at the same realization the secular music industry has reached. Music downloading is here to stay. People have iPods and other mp3 players and want to listen to Jewish music on them. The best solution is for the JM industry to make their music easily available online for legitimate download. If they provide a simple, reliable way for people to download the tracks they’d like for a reasonable fee, then most people will pay for them. See Apple’s iTunes for exhibit A.

There are a few “heimish” download options available, but judging by comments posted by users on the Yahoo JM board over the past year, they are not consistently reliable. From the artists’ perspective, there are also potential reliability issues with regard to “heimishe” accounting for downloaded music.

I’d suggest a paradigm shift. Instead of attempting to keep it all in-house with proprietary copy protection schemes, players, and the like, JM distributors should reach an agreement with iTunes to distribute their music. The benefits far outweigh the negatives of doing it themselves. Apple's iTunes store sells copy protected tracks for $.99 per song. At that price, I believe most would pay rather than download. The artists and producers would be protected by having an external third-party handling the accounting.

Finally, an astute reader points out that if Aderet chooses to pursue this rental idea as a matter of policy, it leaves a great marketing opportunity for Sameach. Here’s the marketing slogan. “Sameach: when you buy music from us; its yours!”

Thursday, September 14, 2006

CD Rental: Foolish or Insulting?

A reader sends in the "rental agreement" included with Mendy Wald's latest CD. Apparently, Wald's distributor, Aderet, is trying to portray the purchase of the CD as a rental instead of a sale subject to the terms listed. This seems dubious on both legal and Halachik grounds, especially, since it's unlikely that most purchasers will be aware of the terms at the time of purchase. And, the terms explicitly violate the Fair Use provisions of US copyright law.

Here are the terms, which are included in the CD's liner notes.

Here's the outside of the CD case:

The problem of illegal downloading/duplication of Jewish music (or any music for that matter) is real. I regularly post PSA's discouraging illegal downloading. It's wrong and people shouldn't do it.

However, I suspect that this rental approach will not help and ultimately makes frum people look foolish. The notion that you have to have some sort of "chap" to get people to behave properly has implications that make religious Jews look bad.

Here's how this can be viewed:

1) The sellers concede that unauthorized duplication is permitted and that's why they have to resort to "renting" this product. This implies that the distributor and the community are dishonest and don't respect copyright laws.

2) The sellers know that unauthorized duplication is illegal. However, they do not feel that religious Jews will obey the law against stealing intellectual property. They do think that can be tricked into obeying the law through the use of a rental agreement. Why this should work is left unexplained. This implies that the community is dishonest and stupid. It implies that people would steal outright, but can be tricked into not doing so because they'd be afraid to break a rental agreement; one without any enforceability or teeth.

3) It makes frum Jews look like they won't obey laws unless they're explicitly phrased in halachik terminology. This makes the community look dishonest, devious, and disrespectful of US law.

The standard "All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws." works fine.

The "rental agreement" is a cute idea to put on a Purim album as a gag, but not much else.

Comments, anyone?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Girls' Night On Tonight

Tonight is Girls' Night On!

For women only! 8 PM @ Makor. 35 W. 67th Street Admission is $10. Additional details at the above link. This edition is part of the 2006 Oyhoo Festival. Go see what happens when Jewish women rock Makor!

It's also a great opportunity to pick up a copy of their recent CD release, "Girls' Night On! Live at Makor".

Friday, September 08, 2006

9/8/06 Link Dump

Hey, we made Hirhurim again!

Search for Emes is "Misirlou-blogging".

Here's a handy guide to Jazz jam session etiquette, "Jazz Jam Sessions: A First-Timer's Guide".

Fun Comment Spam at Steven I.'s.

Here's a famous country singer's music video. It's called "Missing Rib." Check it out.

From the mailbag...

Gary Levitt forwards a press release and link to the website for his simcha band, the Pardes Band.

"Lizard one" writes:
This song sounds familiar its from a cartoon called castle in the sky. I would appreciate If anyone who recognizes it could tell me who "borrowed" it. Thanks a bunch!
Marisa Wetzel forwards a link to "One Rapper Who Can't Seem To Blend In", a Forward article on Jewish rapper Y-Love.

Zal Schreiber writes:
Who is Jay Bee anyway???

Whatevr...."Jay Bee writes: Please write something about Mickey Lee Lane, a Far Rockaway/5Towns native, the brother of R Yitzchock Schreiber *& Bernie Schreiber, who is one of the unsung heros of rock n roll. He scored a regional top 10 hit in the mid 60's with The Shaggy Dog. He is is in the madrega of a Chuck Berry or Gene Pitney but never reached the fame or money that they have. When The Rabbis Sons, with Boruch Chait formed in 1967 Mickey put together their sound. Let's hear something about him. In France & Germany they go ga ga over him like they do most old American rock acts.

What about Zal?"

Well, this is Zal.

Firstly, I noticed Ruby Harris' article...and Mickey commented to me when he caught the jiist of Ruby's claiming the FIRST Jewish Rock influence to be the DYB even before we knew of the article....

It would haave been safer to say that DYB was ONE of the first to inculcate Jewish Rock...NOT the first...but that wouldn't have had the same impact, the exclusive-ness, so to speak.

I remember playing at the Hineni Festival at Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum way before the beginnings of DYB, and Mickey's Jewish Bluish of about the same time, and their rocking Tain Shabbat with full fuzz guitar, and a bit of Tijuana Brass thrown in for good measure.

Secondly, and I hate to cause an uproar here, especially considering my guitar playing and focus, but is Jewish Rock really a good thing? Has it made us any more hailig??? Mind you, I had enough of much of the Jewish recordings of the 70s with the overabundance of circus like, brass oriented backdrops....but there still was some real nice stuff mixed in between. But it wasn't rock.

Mickey virtually got the Jewish acts into the studios in those days...the Rabbis Sons, Ohr Chodosh (which was the first album
played bass on since Mickey couldn't make it to that session), Bat Kol, David Nulman...etc...and he played on possibly dozens of the Jewish albums until the influx of musicians from Israel and then Russia eased him out of the top seat.... I played on about a dozen albums from Ruach Revival, Chavrei Chesed, Ohr Hakesef Singers, Yidid, etc....

Mickey had his own studio for awhile...recording his friend (and everybodies') Shlomo Carlebach. Chavrei Chesed recorded their second album there (it was never released. We recorded it in '75...and it was far rockier than anyting Jewish before or even after then...but with taste...Maybe someday it will be released if we can finish it up-properly)....

For one to claim to be the first, well, it needs to be researxhed out and put into perspective.Mickey has a great deal of that living through the history...the Rabbis Sons on the Alan Burke show...his playing for the Presidents....his top 40 song nationwide (top 10 in Mexico, Australia, and even number 1 in Salt Lake City).

Mickey was flown to England back in '97 to co-headline a Rockabilly festival at Hemsby 18, Great Yarnouth, on the easternmost part of the UK, on the North Sea.

He is still musically active, a member of the Holy Beggar's Band (doing Carlebach, of course) and the Honorable Mentchen (my band...I play with the Holy Beggars as well)...and is looking forward to releasing some of the recordings from his archives when we can get it together in the proper fashion.

I worked at Atalantic Studios doing mastering in their CD department for about 16 years, and mastered and mixed the last Emes (II) album. I have my own home studio, and just mastered a klezmer album, soon to be released....

For a very brief discography of albums I've worked on, type in my full name at in the artist's box.(Zal Schreiber)

A Kiseeva vChaseema Tova to everyone!!!

PS. I played with the Stanley Miller Band ( a wedding band)for a dozen years, co-producing theirr 3 albums. Our second album, was "American Simcha" and it was half instrumental, and the rest had english lyrics with Jewish times, it was quite rocky...mid to later 70s if my memory serves me well.
John Baker contributes another peep:
How about the "relative of famous musicians"? Being me, that is.

Dad was a trumpet player (long since retired), played in the Chicago Symphony in the 1940s, and taught at High School of Music and Art from 1966-1989. So if a trumpet player is old enough, I ask where he went to high school.

Dad's uncle Shlomke Beckerman was a major klezmer clarinetist in the 1920s, contemporary with Dave Tarras, Naftule Brandwein, and that crowd. Shlomke's son Sidney has taught a lot of the klezmer revivalists, whether directly (Margot Leverett) or at KlezKamp. Shlomke, along with my grandfather Harry Beckerman, were heirs to the family klezmer tradition in Ukraine/Volhynia.
Ron Benvenisti responds to an old post from a few years back:
I have a couple of MP3's of Rock B'Simcha that I posted on my website for those who may be interested:

I was given the original live tracks to mix (a nightmare of a job surrounded in anonymity):

"Yosi Be Good" (Ode to Yosi Piamenta)

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" (Goin' To Shul)

"Born To Be Frum"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fund-Raising Concert Done Right!

Saw an ad for this upcoming concert and think it's worth highlighting.

Here's the info:


in support of the Israel Emergency Campaign (IEC)
our special partnership with Nahariya

Monday, September 18, 2006
8:00 PM

Bergen Performing Arts Center
30 North Van Brunt Street
Englewood, NJ

All proceeds will go directly to the Israel Emergency Campaign of UJA NNJ.
Tickets are offered at no cost for IEC donors and must be reserved in advance.
No IEC funds will be used to produce this event.
Here's the important part again:
No IEC funds will be used to produce this event.
Kudos to the organizers! I'd love to see other Tzedakah organizations following this example.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Post-Labor Day link Dump

Circus tent comments on a recent album in Poof! You're "Chassidish!" Via THE LIFE-OF-RUBIN BLOG.

Since so many simcha bands have used Europe's "Final Countdown" as a fanfare, here's a killer cover of the song. Don't thank me, I'm a giver!

Here's Music Scored by Bubble Gum on a Train Platform.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Some More Peeps for Ya'll

Here are some more peeps from recent gigs...

1) The Shy Dance Motivator
The Shy Dance Motivator works for one of the big agencies and we've run into him at several recent Bar Mitzvahs. Unlike the other typical motivators, he doesn't really interact much with the guests, getting them into the music, and involving them in the dancing. Rather, he cruises the dance floor, dancing Yo-Ya and the like by by himself without any interaction with the guests. Eventually, one of the guests, usually great-aunt Sadie, realizes he's a hired gun, and proceeds to monopolize him for the rest of the set. Other motivators would extricate themselves politely after a few minutes and move on, but not shy guy. Sure, he'll join in when his fellow motivators organize a line dance, but shy guy will never be the one to start it.

2) The Joan Rivers Impersonator
Because every Oscar-themed Bar Mitzvah needs a drag Joan Rivers impersonator. We've only seen this once, but a conversation with the photographer informs that he gets around. Oy!

3) The Rent-A-Yenta
Seen this a few times. This one never comes off well. Save your $$$! Tip the band instead.

4) The Optimist
The optimist comes in various forms depending on the type of affair you're at. At a yeshivish simcha, he's the guy who walks into the small wedding hall where a band has hired a sound company running a massively overpowered (for the room) system, including speakers on hoists, subwoofers, a fully mic'ed drum set, and a Marshall stack for the guitarist, and thinks that he'll be able to have any conversation that evening anywhere in the building.

At a chassidish affair, he's the guy who came on time for the chupa and has scheduled a business appointment for half an hour after the time the chupa was called for.

At a secular Bar Mitzvah, he's the guy who comes over as the band is cranking up the disco set and segueing into Boogie Oogie Oogie to ask if they can play Unforgettable next. Not gonna happen.

The Blog in Dm reader
Hi, S!

6) The Shill
The Shill is the guy who recommended the band to the baalei simcha for this event. He takes pride in his recommendation, and spends the evening wandering the venue, pointing out the band to people, soliciting comments from various guests, and taking the credit when they compliment the band. Not to be confused with a booking agent, the Shill works for free, and genuinely enjoys sharing "his" discovery with others.

7) The "Wait Til the Last Minute" Client.
He/she is the person who comes over at Sunday's gig to ask if you might be available for an affair on Tuesday night... his/her wedding. It's as if the live music jogged his/her mind and helped them realize that they might want to get some o' that live music for their own affair.

Ron Benevisti adds another:
I'd like to add:

"The Prodigy"

...who is, was with the Miami Boys Choir, Yeshivah Boys Choir, etc., who is a friend or relative of the family. In all fairness
these guys can be pretty good, as opposed to the typical "Srully Reverb" type.

In particular I want to mention Menachem Klein, who is proving himself as a great songwriter and keyboard artist (recently featured on "Aneinu Hashem") and Shimmy Erenthal of Lakewood who is just thirteen - a real showman and MC.

These guys are a pleasure.
In club-date science class, we learned that for every prodigy, there is an equal and opposite "un-prodigy".

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Nakht In Gan Eden the Hollywood Bowl.

Over at Cross-Currents, Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstien blogs his night at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic.

Here's a bit:
It was really the Hollywood Bowl, and the LA Philharmonic. I don’t do that too often either (the last time was seven or eight years earlier), but a member of my Derech Hashem shiur had been graciously prodding me for the better part of a year to join him and his wife at their box. Given that my wife majored in music back in the old days and we don’t get opportunities like this too often, I gave in.

The weather was picture perfect, and the seats better than that. The box was literally right in front of the stage (which did mean that all we could see were the strings), valets carried our take-out dinners from the car and set them on a table bedecked with white linen and a rose. An MBD concert this wasn’t.

Now that I mention it, MBD helped me with the guilt. I kept fretting about what the neighbors would think if they learned that I was at the Bowl. After the music started, though, the sheer beauty, elegance, and sensibility of the music (all Brahms and Prokofiev) just dwarfed the pop-star wannabe supposedly Jewish music I’ve had to listen to for years as the kids grew up. Push come to shove, I probably did much less damage to my soul listening to that performance than the mind-numbing stuff I’ve been subjected to on long family trips in the car.

9/1/06 Link Dump

Today, Peter Salzman posted a link to his Kabbalah Blues website on theYahoo JM Group. Since it's not likely to get any attention there, we're posting the link here.

The Jerusalem Post reviews Ari Boiangiu's album. Coincidentally, we just listened to the whole album for the first time this week. It's a real, heartfelt album and worth checking out if you like honest Jewish rock.

The translation of one of the song titles in the review is erroneous. " Ma Gadlu" is translated as "What Grew". And in an Israeli paper, no less.

HAYOM is critiquing a new Avraham Fried new song.

In the Forward, "How 'Fiddler' Became Folklore".

Mrs. Yosef Karduner is selling original artwork.

Ths title says it all: "RIAA copyright education contradictory".

Wonder if the video says anything about mechira b'tnai or not playing recordings on shabbos.