Tuesday, May 29, 2007

From the mailbag... - Updated

Jordan writes:
I agree with you regarding the quantification of a halachik process on these issues. As you quoted, my agreement with R' Belsky is on a Hashkafic level. It seems to me that one of the biggest challenges in discussing the issur of music during sefira is that the halachic information on it pre acharonim times is mushy at best, and rather limited. Most of what we regard as halacha during aveilus, sefira, or maybe even the three weeks is minhag, albeit strongly held minhag.
Personally, I think any article addressing these issues, especially one purporting to represent "the halacha" needs to express precisely this point.

Sara Elan writes:
At the shul dinner for Cong. Tiferes Yisroel (R' Menachem Goldberger's shul) on Baltimore, Rabbi Goldberger performed with Pey Dalid. The shul website has a short video clip. I think you will like Rabbi Goldberger's comment!
Hey, another rabbinic endorsement!

Psachya writes:
Your "eye-contact guy" reminded me of something that happened to me on a recent gig. I was hired by one of my regular bandleaders to be a one-piece band at the bar-mitzvah of a mutual friend's son. I had just started playing when a fellow walked right up to the bandstand, stared at me, then waved his hand dismissively and walked away. "Nice," I thought. A couple of minutes later, the guy walked back up and stared for another few seconds. Finally, he spoke.

"Y'got a name?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said, not wanting to give way.
"So, nu?" he said. Now I was a bit ruffled.
"Psachya," I said. "It's Psachya."
"Okay....Psachya," said my tormentor. "If you won't give out your own business cards, maybe you'll give out these!" He then slammed a pile of business cards on top of my keyboard.

I did a double-take. I finally realized that "Mr. Eye-Contact-Guy" was my boss for the evening, who had shaved off the beard he'd had for as long as I'd known him! He noticed that I didn't recognize him, so he decided to mess with my head. I totally lost it. For the rest of the gig, every time I saw him I got an uncontrollable case of the giggles.
J. writes:
I think some type of classified is a great idea!
There's been some interst in this concept. I still don't want to manage these, though. As a trial, I'd consider linking to individual for sale posts on craigslist or elsewhere. Send me an email with your name and the ad link and I'll post it. Let's see how it works.

E. comments on a new Sameach DVD release:
for only 20 bux plus tax you can own your very own copy of someone elses choppy home movies set to to Miami Boy music! Here's the link.
I don't get it either. I also don't get why they're releasing the Chazak video either. Gruntig comments on the video here.

Update: Sruly writes:
In regards to the Meet the Family DVD:

"There are only a couple musical segments on the DVD. The rest is actual stories based on books published by Feldheim Publisher by a popular Jewish children's author, Libby Lazwenik. The DVD is 45 minutes long, I think if you want to pose such questions its best to actually have bought and watched the DVD in full."

In regards to the Chazak Concert DVD:

The Chazak concert was already released many years ago on video and CD. This is the first time it has been released on DVD. It's no longer available on video or cassette, it's a popular item and stores were asking for it to be transferred to DVD"
He also emails the full description of the "Meet the Perlowitz's video.
Based on best-selling author Libby Lazewnik's popular tales, each of these stories will delight and captivate every young heart - and the young at heart, too! Introducing, for the first time ever on video, stories plucked from the life of the family you love to read about -- the Perlowitzes! Join Sruly Perlowitz as he learns a painful but ultimately heartwarming lesson about friends and family. Cheer for Mutty as he finally learns to stand up for himself in Mutty Takes a Stand, And, in the perennial favorite, Out in the Cold, discover how an unexpected encounter on a dark, chilly night can change one lonely boy's life forever. Special bonus features included: Music video, bloopers, behind the scenes and a preview of Volume 2. (Running time: 45 minutes)
"Lucky Wolf" writes:
you're on the money, except that it's not the Miami boys choir, it's the Yeshiva boys choir.
Avi Septimus writes:
For all the lovers of Modzitzer niggunim and Torah, there is a Yahoo group with news, pictures, and best of all, niggunim. Link here.

I spent Hoshana Rabba, Simchat Torah, and a few Shabbatot by Modzitz in Bnei Brak. Quite an experience!
Amos Shacham, internet director for the Israelli Consulate writes:
I just wanted to bring to your attention to our new all political Blog. This is the official political Blog of the state of Israel. It's edited by our team of young professionals here at the Israeli Consulate in NY. Let us know what you think?

Here's the link to IsraelPolitik

In Review:" Merkavah", "Refuge Rock Sublime", and "A Night In The Old Marketplace"

Off the review stack...

Merkavah - When Will The Master Come?

Merkavah's debut disc on JMG, "When Will the Master Come?", is essentially a one-man-show featuring guitarist Yerachmiel Altizio who plays virtually all of the instruments excepting drums, played by Rich Bloom, and woodwinds, played by Mike Fuerstein. He also sings on some of the tracks. Despite all of the multi-tracking, Altizio successfully captures the sound of a live jam band. In addition to singing, Altizio does some Matisyahu-esque toasting on some of the tracks. He does this at least as well as Matis, if not better.

The tunes are mainly well-known Chabad nigunim, although there is a cover of Dov Frimer's Al Hanisim and a well-known melody for Ashreinu associated with the anti-Chabad movement in the '90's. The music is high-energy. The disc also has a few short tracks with Torah thoughts from Rabbi Goldberg, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivah Hadar Torah, where Altizio is currently studying.

One thing I noticed listening to this project is that the songs all sound much the same. They typically start out with a groove, followed by the head --typically a Chabad melody either sung or played on guitar -- followed by an extended jam section, and then the head again to end. Some more variation in arrangement, groove, tempo, and style would go a long way towards making the project as a whole more interesting. The guitar tone uses a very distinctive sounding effect (sounds like an envelope filter/wah) too much. More variety in the guitar tone would have added a lot too. The keyboard parts and the sounds used to play them, especially the organ, don't grab me either.

I'd consider this a good demo CD of Altizio's concept. There are some interesting ideas, but they really need a band to flesh them out. Adding a good keyboardist and/or some other soloists would kick the musical energy up a lot.

Merkavah's MySpace page is here.

Amazon has the album here:

Mare Winningham - Refuge Rock Sublime

Mare Winningham is an Emmy-award winner, and Academy Award nominee, and has been making guest appearences on Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order. She's also released "Refuge Rock Sublime", an album of Jewish country-bluegrass music. This is a very acoustic sounding record with lots of fiddle, guitars, mandolin, and banjo.

Most of Winningham's lyrics don't grab me, but the production and feel is very pleasant. Interesting tunes include album opener "Valley of the Dry Bones" and her covers of "Karev Yom" and Tanchum Portnoy's setting of "Etz Chayim".

Her website is here. There isn't much there, but there is a music video for 'Valley of The Dry Bones."

Amazon has the album here:

Frank London's "A Night in the Old Marketplace"

This is a deep album. I've been a fan of Frank London's work for years. "A Night in the Old Marketplace" is his score for a musical based on I.L. Peretz's Yiddish ghost story "Bay Nakht Ayfn Altn Mark." Lyrics are by Glen Berger.

"Night" features compositions and arrangements performed by a four-piece band and numerous guest vocalists. The musicians are Ron Caswell on tuba and bass, Brandon Seabrook on guitar, banjo, and mandolin, Art Bailey on keyboards and accordion, and Aaron Alexander on drums. Interestingly, London doesn't play on this project.

The music is deeply Jewish. A contemporary cabaret in the shtetl, if you will, blending myriad influences, Jewish and other, into a compelling brew of Yiddish Theatre for the 21st century. This is a dark story though, so don't play this one for the little ones unless you want to answer lots of questions.

The story in short: Sheyndele commits suicide by jumping into the well after being married. Her husband becomes a recluse.

Nosn, her true love, has visions of Sheyndele and remains in love with her.

The Recluse debates with the Badkhn and urges him to repent. Instead, the badkhn attempts to raise the dead and reunite the lovers with the help of the Gargoyle guarding the well.

According to legend, the Gargoyle once lured a band of klezmorim returning from playing a Shabbes gig to their deaths in the well. Divine punishment, perhaps?

The Badkhn waits until midnight and attempts to awaken the Gargoyle and summon the spirits from hell so the lovers can be reunited.

After an argument between the Badhkn and Gargoyle, the dead klezmorim are raised and play as the dead are raised.

The lovers reunite in a black wedding at which the badkhn whips the assembled into a frenzy urging them to live again.

After being rebuked by the recluse, Nosn dies, the dead return to their graves, and the Badkhn regretfully awaits the sunrise.

According to London, "A Night in the Old Marketplace" will be staged in Philadelphia soon.

Standout tracks include "The Bottom of the Well", "The Tale of the Drowned Klezmorim", "A Word", "Meet Me in the Old Marketplace", and "The Ten Faces of G-d", but the whole project is great.

About some of the songs...

The album opens with "The Bottom of the Well", a zhok performed by vocalist Susan McKeown, who also participated on the Klezmatic's Grammy-winning album, "Wonder Wheel." The song tells of the aftermath of Sheyndele's suicide. She now rests at the bottom of the well.

"The Tale of the Drowned Klezmorim", performed by Joanne Borts, tells of a band of musicians punished for performing on Shabbes:
For their punishment was swift
And how very like the nature of their sinning
Though they strayed off of their path
At the end of the night
They had already strayed
At Night's Beginning...
In "A Word" the Badhkn, sung by Manu Narayan, tries to remember "a word for changing everything."

The Gargoyle invites the dead to return in the waltz, "Meet Me in the Old Marketplace" performed by LaTanya Hall.
"Make your way, Purgatory is open today.
"The Ten faces of G-d" explains the Kabbalistic concept of the ten faces of G-d and asks "when can a broken glass mend?" The vocalists are Martha Cluver, Karen Goldfeder, Silvie Jensen, Matt Hensrud, and Steve Hryclak.

In the closing number, "A Tavern in Pinsk", "They Might be Giants" sing of the dead who are waiting in a bar for Moshiach's arrival.

In addition to the vocalists mentioned above, the Klezmatics' Lorin Sklamberg and Shudder to Think's Craig Wedren also appear on the album. Sklamberg sings on "One Prayer, One Lullaby" and "It Doesn't Matter" while Wedring appears on "Nosn's Vision."

Rokhl Kafrissen wrote about the project here.

The CD is out on Soundbrush. Their website is here.

Amazon has the album here:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

From the Mailbag II (Acapella edition)

Jordan comments on "Back This Up? R' Belsky on Sefirah Music":
I happen to agree with his view on a hashkafic level. If you believe listening to recorded music during sefirah is assur at all, what difference does it make which instrument, the human voice or trumpet, is making the music. Also, he mistranslated a capella.
The problem I have in understanding this logic is based on the distinctions Rav Belsky makes between different kinds of acapella music. If he'd assert that all acapella music recordings are forbidden, it'd be consistent, it seems to me. (It'd still be a hashkafic as opposed to halachik argument.) As it is, although I kind of have a sense of what he's opposed to (I think), his distinctions seem arbitrary.

For instance, with regard to EQ (since he specifically mentions it being a problem). What about proximity effect on microphones? By getting closer to most mics during recording, the vocalist increases the bass frequencies beyond what the ear would typically perceive the voice's frequency range to be. How far from the mic does a vocalist have to stand for the resultant recording to be permissible? Presumably there would be a different distance for each mic depending on its frequency response, the recording space, etc. How would Rabbi Belsky address this issue? Do we need a rav hamachshir on mics issuing the "Complete Guide to Sefirah Mic techniques" specifying acceptable distances for each of the commonly used vocal recording mics?

In short, without a clear understanding of the recording process (something it is evident Rav Belsky does not have based on the descriptions in this article), and without sources, it seems like Rav Belsky is trying to quantify a highly subjective feeling without accurate information. I suppose that's an approach for deciding one's personal beliefs, and for those who look to Rav Belsky for hashkafic advice, kol hakavod for following your rav's guidance. However, publishing this without sources as a normative halachik ruling in a newspaper seems anti-intellectual to me.

In the old days, the halachik process used to work by Rabbonim writing sourced teshuvos explaining their opinions. Over time, through point and counterpoint in writing (and/or in publivc presentations), with sources and logic that could be studied and reviewed, a halachik consensus often emerged (e.g. using electricity on Shabbos). Even in situations where no halachik consensus was reached, the sources and rationale for the varius positions are available to be studied and analyzed (e.g. brain death and organ donation). There are some notable exceptions (i.e. Divrei Chaim on machine matzos), but for the most part the system worked as I've described.

Nowadays, though, we seem to have evolved into a system where pronouncements are made without the need for this "pilpul chaverim" to take place. Sources are not required and general assertions that "the gedolim feel", "all leading poskim hold", and the like are made instead. One example would be the acceptance of Rav Falk's tznius book "Oz V'ahadar Levusha" as a standard text by many in the black-hat community. This despite the fact that many of Rav Falk's opinions are not sourced (or are not supported by his sources) and are hashkafically-based rather than halachikly-based.

Note, my intent is not to attack either Rav Belsky or Rav Falk, who are both tremendous talmidei chachamim; just to note that in the cases I've mentioned, they seem to be ruling without explicating their sources (if they exist). This effectively prevents a "pilpul chaverim", an intellectual approach to discussing these matters and understanding the issues involved.

I would love to see a teshuva that addressed the issue of listening to acapella music during Sefirah and the Three Weeks. I think it'd be a fascinating read. I believe that little work has been done in the area of applying halachik precedents to issues involving music technology. And, I think that interesting arguments can be made on both sides of the issue. Unfortunately, the teshuva I linked in my earlier post missed this opportunity.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

From the mailbag...

Aaron writes:
I would like suggest something..is it possible top have an area on your blog where we can post Gig equipment for sale..like a classified type thing. Heck I got two Duovox amps I'd love to sell but who is buying that aside from us guys!
I'm not interested in maintaining classified listings, but if people are interested, perhaps we could figure out a way to have a post with comments wherein people can post gear for sale. Let me know if you're interested and if enough people are, I'll see if I can set something up.

A. comments on "So, You Wanna Be A One Man Band?":
Bad taste shouldn't be an issue, the man obviously cannot count to two!
It's the new math! Basically, so long as there's no drummer, it's a one-man-band. Note: trap set drummers only, percussionists do not count as a drummer for these purposes.

Psycho Toddler forwards a link to "iPod, Therefore I Am."

E. forwards a link to an article about Blue Fringe and Rashanim.

Amazon has albums by those bands here:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So, You Wanna Be A One Man Band?

Here's what you'll need:

1) An auto-arranger keyboard.

2) A PA with sub-woofer.

3) A "Zinger." "Srully Reverb" or other.

Finally, to ensure that the wedding guests can find out who is playing w/o having to come over to the band, you'll need a small, subtle, and tasteful sign with your band name and contact info.

Back This Up? R' Belsky on Sefirah Music

Had a convo about so-called "Sefirah music" recordings with a rav. When I told him that I'm interested in seeing some actual responsa addressing the subject, he told me Rabbi Belsky wrote a teshuva about it and gave me the following column.

Only problem is, this contains many assertions (halachically and musically) without sources. There is clearly some misinformation in what he's been told about the recording process, about human beat-boxing, and vocal bass singing. (See Bobby McFerrin and Rockapella for just two counter-examples.)

Does anyone have any sources for Rav Belsky's implication in his opening paragraph; that Pesach cake, for example, ought not be permitted?

Who are the "gedolei rabbonim" who have ruled that these recordings should not be listened to during sefirah and the Three Weeks? Have any of them written teshuvos about this topic? Do any of them distinguish between sefirah (a relatively recent minhag, not sourced in primary texts, as acknowledged later in the piece) and the Three Weeks?

What is R' Belsky's source for asserting that the first of his three categories of acapella has the halachik status of instrumental music? The second? Alternatively,if those are prohibbited why is the third category permitted? Would it make a difference if recordings in the third category are made by trained singers vs. untrained amateurs?

What are the parameters be to determine what is/isn't acceptable? In other words, what's the dividing line between types two and three?

I've been looking for sources to back up these commonly made assertions, but have yet to find any. Without sources, Rav Belsky's teshuva reflects a hashkafic approach, but is not compelling on a halachik level. I've asked this in the past. Is anyone aware of a halachik argument opposing "sefirah recordings"? Perhaps even Rabbi Belsky's for this column?

More Peeps...

Here are some more characters we met recently...

"Eye Contact Guy"
"Eye Contact Guy" is the person who leans over the piano to make expressionless eye contact with the pianist. When the pianist smiles, nods, or otherwise acknowledges his presence, he turns away without responding. Nice.

"Yiddish Song Lady"
Similar to the woman requesting "Fiddler' at an Uncle Moishy show, the "Yiddish Song Lady" believes that all any party needs is for the band to play a rousing chorus of "By Mir Bist Du Shein." in her opinion, this is what makes for a rocking party. That the average age in the room is 18-21 and the crowd has been singing along to Blue Fringe tunes, goes unnoticed by this remarkably clueless woman. (Yes, it's always a woman!)

"Mr. Bluetooth"
"Mr. Bluetooth" defines his self importance by the fact that he has... you'll never believe this... a wireless earpiece for his cell phone. He carries himself proudly, making sure all can notice his awesome accessory. Um, hello! It's like, a wedding. Of someone you presumably care about. You can take your Bluetooth earpiece out, you know. It won't hurt, promise. No guarantees about not suffering withdrawal though.

"The Friend of the 98 Year Old Man."
This peep shleps the 98 year old man around and intruduces him to everyone at the party. The patter is the same. 'You know how old my friend here is?" You'll never guess. He's 98 years old!" Can you believe it?" Rinse and repeat. I suppose a 98 year old friend in good health is a hipper accessory than a Bluetooth earpiece, but really, have a little rachmones on the old man and let him sit down for a few.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

5/15/07 Link Dump

There will be a memorial event/concert for klezmer clarinetist Sid Beckerman, son of legendary klezmer musician Shloimke Beckerman, on Monday, May 21 at 8pm at the Congress for Jewish Culture, 25 E. 21st St. in NYC. Margot Leverett and Pete Sokolow will be performing. Sid passed away on April 4th.

Margot, whose wonderful CD, "The Art of the Klezmer Clarinet", was dedicated to Sid has posted some thoughts here.

The Klezmer Shack posts Henry Sapoznik's obituary for Sid.

Yitz went to hear a famous chazzan last Shabbos and asks "Was it Davening?"

Unsurprisingly, Teapacks is out of the Eurovision competition.
Kesher Talk posts some video clips of interviews with Teapacks.

The Jerusalem Post reviews Bahatzi Halaila 4.
Ultimately, the experience of listening to Bahatzi Halaila must be a lot like the feeling of zooming down the highway inside a big, sticker-covered van filled with reveling, newly religious Breslov hassidim.
Seraphic Secret reviews the Yeshiva of Flatbush High School choir release, "Y'hey Shalom".

Finally, LIFE-OF-RUBIN posts a JM roundup including a video clip of the original version of "Daddy Dear".

Friday, May 11, 2007

From the mailbag...

Psycho Toddler writes:
Speaking of myspace…

I am experimenting with music download marketing since CD production doesn’t really pay for me.

Kabbalah and Kabbalah Classic are available for download with secure payment through Snocap at www.myspace.com/kabbalahband

This is the only way to get these albums. Songs can also be purchased individually, and there is a “bonus” track called “Shivti” written by Izzy Botnick on the Kabbalah Classic album. It also features a redo of “Or Chadash” with Lenny Solomon on organ.

I wasn’t sure how/when to market it, but it seems JM marketing is back in swing after Lag Baomer.

Here’s a graphic if you want to use it.

Kabbalah was banned at the high school I attended. If not for that, I'd likely not have heard of them.

Mrs. C writes about the Mheira karaoke request:
If you find out where or how, could you please post it to the website.
Meanwhile "MusicMaaaker" writes:
You can let him know that for some gelt I will gladly make him one. Tell him to email me if interested.
Delia Spiers forwards a link to her MySpace page, www.myspace.com/kolishadelia.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part X

A while back, I ran a series of posts titled "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? In those posts, I presented a number of scenarios and questions and pledged to offer my perspective at the end of the series.

Due to issues with the switch to new Blogger at the time, writing posts with links became difficult and the subject slid of the front burner. Recently, there's been some interest in those posts again. At any rate, after a long hiatus, here's my take on the issues raised.

First, with regard to when private individuals hire musicians/bands, I believe that nobody is owed a job. Sure it'd be a nice gesture of hakaras hatov if the people who used a musician or band for their last event would consider using doing so again, but there is no obligation to even consider doing so. I believe the individual has the right to spend their money as they wish, and no musician has the right to expect or demand that they be hired. (I mention "demand" because I'm aware of situations where such has happened. In one case, a former roomate of mine backed out of a commitment to use my band after his shadchan called him up and said "after all I've done for you, you owe it to me to use my cousin "X", who was a Neginah bandleader".)

That being said, it would be nice if individuals would take certain factors into account when deciding which bands/musicians to use for their simcha. Obviously, one factor is past service. Additionally, most of us run into situations where a musician has done a chesed for our family member/friend/neighbor etc. They may have played in the hospital for a sick nephew, played a wedding for free to help out an impoverished neighbor, or played shul events at a very reduced rate. It'd be nice if people took this into account, but I don't have a sense that this occurs often. It's interesting. Big corporations will give tons of money to various charities and to support the arts, and justify doing so to their shareholders, on the grounds that it is good for business, because the goodwill engendered will attract customers. Shouldn't the frum community respond that way as well, on the individual level? I'm not suggesting that there's an obligation to hire these musicians, but I do think it'd be appropriate to add them to the list of musical options under consideration.

I have a different opinion with regard to Jewish institutions and organizations who ask for discounts/freebies. If an organization hires a musician/band at retail, than the same applies as above. If not, though, then I think that organizations which ask for our support ought to reciprocate. If you can ask me for money or to donate my services, than you ought to consider hiring me when music services are needed.

I think that Jewish organizations ought to keep a number of factors in mind when hiring music for an event.

The questions they should ask themselves are:

1) Who played this event last time?
2) Which musicians have donated time/money/performances in the past?
3) Who is offering the best value?

I don't think the answers to these questions are necessarily dispositive, but they all are owed strong consideration. In my experience, this often doesn't happen. In my own career, I have seen many times how organizations skip over their volunteers when it comes time to hire someone. I've also seen how new people in a position will not remain loyal to musicians who may have been playing a given event for years at a discount, for example.

Here's one example to illustrate. I have a fifteen year plus history with one organization. I've been playing free events for them for years. A few years ago, I started charging them a small fee for one event for which my commitment had cost me paying gigs a few years running. I made less from them for putting a small band together,driving to a hotel upstate, and playing the gig, than I'd make booking a single locally. Yet, as soon as my contact switched jobs within the organization, I lost the gig. From a financial standpoint, I'm not sorry to have lost the gig (indeed, I'm already ahead of the game financially, even if I don't get the gig for another few years) but on a personal level, it felt like the organization had no hakoras hatov for all the years I did that event for them. There were times when I played that gig despite having either personal commitments or a full day of gigging that began early the next morning.

I should note that much of this neglect occurs through a lack of "simas lev" on the part of the organizational/institutional leaders. They just don't think about these issues.

Jordan mentioned a shul showing courtesy to a member. As a concept, I think that's exactly right. I believe that shuls should consider hiring their members first for any service they might need.

"Sonoomee" commented:
The thing that DOES stick in my craw, is when an organization will call you to play every Tzedaka job they have, and never hesitate to ask you to play for free (we are a Charity organization and have no budget), which you graciously do...but when they finally have an event where there IS a budget (IE Dinner, concert fundraiser etc.) They hire someone else!?
Especially when the person they hire has not volunteered for the organization and many other musicians have! This has happened to me as well.

To address this scenario:
A scenario: If a DJ or band approaches an organization and offers to play an annual event for free, is it fair for the organization to drop the band/musician they've been using consistently for years, even though the free offer is predicated on the fact that should they be satisfied, they will they will be charged going forward? In other words, do they owe any loyalty to the band whose been doing the job for years, to not try out their competition, since no one can fairly compete at that price point ($0). If you think yes, would your answer change if the original bandleader also does pro-bono work for the organization throughout the year?
Personally, I think that it is definitely assur to poach clients in this way. It's wrong whether its a Neginah rep trying to get YU gigs away from Neshoma (as has happened) or a DJ trying to get school gigs away from "Yankel One Man Band" (as has also happened). I can see why such an offer would be appealing from the institution's perspective, but I think the right thing to do would be to pass. At the very least, they should talk to the regular musician/band before accepting such an offer.

With regard to the UJA scenario, I think the building manager is 1000% right. An organization that won't consider suppliers from within it's own constituents has no right to ask -- and certainly not to expect -- any favors from said constituents.

On "To Catch A Thief!"...

In this case, I think the school owed me something. I put a lot on the line for them, and the seeming lack of acknowledgement of that has been disappointing, especially since they need musicians regularly and they needed to put a new person in charge of hiring them. If nothing else, they knew that I'd burned a bridge by turning in an acquaintance, and they ought to have followed up on that level just to let me know what had happened. I eventually wound up calling them to find out what the consequences had been because it was inevitable that I'd run into him again (I already have) and I needed to be prepared to address the situation.

That said, if the same situation came about again, and I knew the school wasn't going to ever hire me again, I'd still handle things the same way. However, the fact that they have never called me feels like a lack of hakaras hatov.

In this situation, my opinion is that the bandleader ought to have waited a day for me to get back to him. In general, when I call musicians for gigs, I wait for them to get back to me before calling another musician for the slot. If it's for a last minute gig, than I say so explicitly in the message that I'll be calling other musicians as well.

As far as loyalty goes, I led a darn good job for him, and it'd been nice to get the call again. Had he chosen not to call me though, that would have been his perogative. Calling me and then not waiting to hear back is insulting, IMO.

On this story, much the same applies. I think it's only right for organizations to show hakaras hatov as I noted above. In this particular case, I have discovered over the past few years that this individual is manipulative and dishonest. So, I'm not really interested in doing any work for him. I've noticed that very often, in organizational life, there are no checks on people in certain positions, and these kinds of people tend to fill those slots. Usually, it takes a scandal to dislodge them.

Finally, with regard to my last post in the series...

As far as the Shul goes, I think they owed me consideration for the job, as Jordan noted in his comment. I don't think they owed me the gig because of my volunteer work there; I think I was owed consideration as a member.

As far as the national organizations go, my position is as above.

Finally, with regard to the school, I think at this point (10 + years), it'd be nice if I didn't lose the gig every time a new DSA takes over.

On a related note, a school I'd played at for 13 years stopped calling this year. This past week, I found out that they'd hired a new Rebbe who is also a musician. I used to play five to ten gigs annually for them on Rosh Chodesh and the like. Of course, they're entitled to hire whoever they want, and it makes sense to have a rebbe provide the music. However, it'd have been nice if they'd called to let me know that my servcices wouldn't be needed before the school year, so that I could line up another school, instead of leaving it to me to figure out.

The common thread connecting these issues is a lack of hakaras hatov which is mainly due, IMO, to a lack of simas lev. Our institutions don't express it properly. Sure, they give the big donors honors and awards. However, the people who help out in other ways often go unacknowleged.

Bottom line, I'm not upset or angry about most of the above cases, but I am disappointed. It isn't about the money; it's human to want to be appreciated. I don't think the status quo relects well on our community. If this series helps to raise awareness at all, it'll have been worth it.

In closing, Jordan's comment on the first post in the series makes an important point.
...But if we place an overabundance of attention on our rights, whether real or imagined, we miss the big picture. We will not book any more jobs, really. We will turn off clients. And we will just give ourselves heartache, in a business that's supposed to be fun.
Previous posts in this series can be found here:

Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part I
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part II
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part III
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part IIII
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part V
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part VI (To Catch A Thief!)
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part VII
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part VIII
Blog in Dm: "You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part IX

Today's Moment of JM History

Just read Velvel Pasternak's "Beyond Hava Nagila". He's got an interesting history about the song "Tsiyon". (It's in the Gourarie book in the smorg section.) According to Pasternak, the original lyrics were "Chasdei Hashem". When some yeshivah bochurim were jailed for firebombing a pornography shop in Jerusalem, protesters sang te song with the lyrics "Tziyon halo sishali lishlom asirayich?" and that version caught on. The rest, as they say, is history..

Amazon has the book here:

Mother's Day Music Recommendations

Sunday is Mother's Day so it might be a good time to pick up one of the following.

Voices for Israel recently released "Keeping The Faith", a double-album featuring a diverse range of female Jewish singers. Proceeds to benefit victims of war and terror in Israel. Purchase the CD through their website.

Girls' Night On! promotes open mic nights for women only. They released a live CD a few months back. Buying the CD will help fund similar events in the future. You can buy the CD at their website here.

Heck, buy both! What better way to honor women's contributions to Jewish music?

5/10/07 Link Dump

Mordechai Shinefield reviews Y-Love's Sefirah album for The Forward. Y. Love sat in at a recent wedding gig. Fun!

Here's a video clip of saxophonist Danny Zamir recording an arrangement of Hatikvah.

Oh man, those wild and rowdy Boston Pops Opening Night Concerts!

Yoseph Leib writes about Basya Schechter's new album, Haran.

On The Contrary......................... links to a great mussar clip featuring Ernie on sax and rubber duck!

Teruah writes about music on the fringe Jewishly and otherwise. He's also posted "Sefira and Jewish A Cappella Pt 2."

MOChassid paskens like Blog in Dm's 2003 psak.

MOChassid also reviews Eitan Katz's new Carlebach unplugged CD. It looks like one of the tunes might not be Carlebach, though. Ayin sham!

Jew School posts Sagol 59's response, "Shoah Business" to Subliminal's "Shoah" track.

Frum Satire is complaining about "renegade chazzans."

Avraham Rosenblum has created a music video for Kedem featuring "a visual review of recent events in Israel."

Blog in Dm's New MySpace policy

Priviously, I've maintained a policy of not linking to MySpace, due to the prevalence of inapropriate content on the site. The trigger was when I visited a young frum musicians' page and saw a lot of comments (w/photos) of "friends" from the er, adult entertainment industry. These comments were thanking him for the "add" etc. I didn't feel comfortable linking to such pages. And, since it was likely that a page would recieve such comments/links after I'd linketo it, I avoided doing so even if the page contained no improper content at the time.

Since MySpace was bought awhile back by Rupert Murdoch, they've made efforts to clean the site up and there's been noticeable improvement. Given the reality that there are many Jewish musicians whose sole internet presence is on MySpace, and the fact that the site is substantially improved in terms of less direct exposure to inappropriate content, I'm going to start linking to MySpace pages provided that there is no inappropriate content on the page in question.

So, if you've submitted a MySpace page in the past, feel free to resend it. However, if you've got adds/comments from "adult friends" and the like, don't submit your link. Thanks.

Great Moments in JM Marketing

At Blog in Dm, we're dedicated to keeping you updated on the latest cutting-edge JM advertising images and slogans. So, we have to apologize profusely for failing to post this ad which appeared Pesach time when the CD was released.

We do hope you'll forgive this oversight.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

From the mailbag...

Avi writes:
I have an israeli friend who is a singer and who's non religious sister will be getting married in two months. The wedding will be featuring a DJ and my friend would like to sing Shwekey's Mehaira over a backing track of that song. Is there some place where one can get a "karoake" version or something like that?
If anyone can help him out, please let me know and I'll pass the info along.

Henry Sapoznik writes:
Someone sent me a link to your blog and have been enjoying following it. Today I found an entry from a Ruby Harris who claims my band "Kapelye" opened for him at a concert in Philadelphia. Maybe I'm getting eyver botl, but outside of having heard of his band, I have no recollection of him or the concert he refers to. Actually, I have no recollection of ever opening for anyone!
A. sends links to a bunch of Arnie Singer YouTube videos. Here's one: "No More Bombs."

Daniel Scheide writes:
I just wanted to let you know about a lecture I'm giving in Boca Raton on the 29th of May on the Jewish music of John Zorn. Attached is the press release. You may also be interested in the Judaica Sound Archives, the organization hosting the talk.The FAU Judaica Sound Archives.
Here's the press release:
Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries to host
Lecture on Composer John Zorn at Hillel

WHAT: Daniel Scheide, a librarian at Florida Atlantic University Libraries, will present a lecture titled “John Zorn and the Future of Jewish Music.” Scheide will discuss how Zorn, a composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist who has been influenced by free jazz, avant-garde, classical and hardcore punk, is challenging the perception of Jewish music.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 29, 2007, from 7 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Paul C. Wimbish Wing of the S.E. Wimberly Library
Mildred & Abner Levine and Ruth & Saul Weinberger Jewish Life Center, Hillel Golden Pavilion, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431

COST:Free and open to the public

CONTACT: Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries at 561-297-0080

The Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University’s S.E. Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton campus, invites you to join librarian Daniel Scheide, who will present a lecture titled “John Zorn and the Future of Jewish Music,” on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 from 7 to 8 p.m. Scheide is passionate about new and interesting music and has followed Zorn’s career for 20 years. His bachelor’s degree in composition is from Berklee College of Music and his master’s degree is from the University of Illinois.
The Judaica Sound Archives are a great resource with a lot of interesting records all available to listen to online. Highly recommended listening!

A Simple Jew forwards a link to his post "Vitality To The Printed Letters."

E. forwards a link to this JTA article. Apparently, the Eurovision folks have been messing with the Israeli band Teapacks. I don't see what they're complaining about. "Push The Button" evokes pastels to me [/snark]

Psachya forwards a link to The Jewish Ethicist and writes "I thought this was one of the most balanced & fair articles I've seen about this subject. Thought I'd pass it along."

Steven I. writes about some comments posted to his blog, Canonist, regarding a "Hatikvah for Mussaf Controversy":
Have you seen these comments in the most recent M. Tendler Open Thread?
Just go to the "Recent Comments" on the sidebar to find them.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

5/3/07 Links

In this week's Forward, "Breaking The Silence Of Sefirah -- Sort of", an excellent article on contemporary Jewish artists and Sefirah.

Teruah posts "Sefira and Jewish A Cappella Music Pt 1."

Daled Amos has a great video of Japanese tourists singing Hevenu Shalom Aleichem and Ki Mitizyon at Ben Gurion airport. I want that gig!!!

MO Chassid has posted info about Aish Kodesh's Lag Ba'omer event with Eitan Katz and Nochi Krohn this motzei Shabbos.

Modern Uberdox writes "Music in my head."

The Jerusalem Post reviews Golem's latest release, "Fresh Off Boat."

The Jewish Week profiles "Yipee: A Journey to Jewish Joy", Paul Mazursky's film about Rosh Hashana in Uman.

Kalla Magazine is "Wondering About Uncle Moishe" (Hat Tip, JR)

A Simple Jew emails a link to "A Niggun From Sudilkov - 1913."

The current edition of the Yideo Video Show features footage of the Lander College Battle of the Bands.