Friday, March 25, 2011

Concert Controversy - UPDATED

Yesterday, a promo video for an upcoming concert to benefit Tzivos Hashem was posted online. The event featured Avraham Fried, Lipa Schmeltzer, a boys choir, and a segment called Jewish Kids Got Talent.

Apparently, some in the community found either the notion or the actual footage of the black choreographer and hip-hop dancers to be unacceptable, and controversy erupted.

A little while ago, The Cool Jew interviewed the event producer, who defended the decision to include those performers, and said the show would continue as planned. A short while later, the Lubavitch youth organization "Tzivos Hashem" contacted to state "this issue has been corrected. These performers will no longer be part of the show and will not have anything further to do with it."

I've done some checking around, and have been unable to find anyone else commenting on this aside from the Cool Jew's posts. There doesn't appear to be any controversy over this on any of the popular Chabad/Lubavitch websites. It looks to me like a one man crusade by the Cool Jew against the black choreographers. That changes the story materially, so I though y'all should know. CJ did write another post today, "Rabbi Heller Blasts Tzivos Hashem Concert" about the topic, but without audio, I'd read that as this rabbi is opposed to concerts in general, not specifically addressing this one and the question of non-Jewish dancers etc. In other words, the only person who seems to have had a problem here is the blogger himself. That's a very different story. It speaks to his racism alone. That's a relief to hear.

PS, as that post quoted Lipa, the dancers did appear at today's show.


The Cool Jew posted a rant, Shame on You Tzivos Hashem, today. I'm counting this as confirmation of my previous update. He's trying to gin up opposition, but, contrary to his reporting, this does not appear to have been generated controversy beforehand.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Maccabeat-down II

The authors respond to criticism of their Jewish Week article with "Missing the Point: It’s about women (and men) and Orthodoxy, not the Maccabeats."

Meh. A weak response to defend a weak article.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

From the mailbag...

Ben writes:
I thought you'd enjoy this new music video for Purim. It features 100 Israelis from all different backgrounds dancing in the desert.

It's called Raise Your Mask - a parody of Pink's Raise Your Glass.

Happy Adar!
E. sends a link to the Maccabeats "The Purim Song."

He also forwards a link to this VIN exclusive.

Jew Man Group writes:
Hi there!

Big fan of your site. We’re a new “Kosher comedy” venture that just released our first single – it’s “Bar’chu!”, a remix of “Forget You” by Cee-Lo, and we’re hoping you’ll find the video worthy of posting. It’s going viral as we speak. J

Please check it out and let us know what you think!
Psachya writes about Mikis Theodorakis:
The sad thing (for me) about the Mikis Theodorakis debacle is that he,at one time, was rather popular in many Jewish homes.

Those of us who grew up listening to Art Raymond's "Morning Simcha" radio program were very familiar with some of Theodorakis' music. Art didn't play it himself, but for years his program on WEVD ("The Station That Speaks Your Language") was immediately followed by a Greek language program. And, every morning, the first sounds heard after Art signed off was a selection from Theodorakis' score for the movie "Z". As a result, Theodorakis got a bit of a following in the Jewish music-listening community. My grandfather A"H had an LP of the "Z" soundtrack, and I've seen it in many other LP collections beside Shlomo Carlebach, Jo Amar, Ruach Revival, and other early-'70's Jewish music icons.

So it turns out that the guy was an anti-Semitic jerk all along. It just makes me sad. This is music I grew up with.
Shalom writes:
You wrote: "In case you had any doubt... "

No, I never had any doubt. Ever since I read, years ago, that he composed a so-called "Palestinian national anthem", long before the PLO had morphed into the PA, I kind of got the idea.

Shame, because the soundtrack to "Z" has got some great music on it; now I feel uncomfortable listening to it.

You think this is gonna stop Jewish musicians playing his music, though? I'm not altogether sure they even should. I remember the controversy a couple years ago regarding the move to rename Corbin Place, which was named after a notorious anti-semite; I think the biggest "shtoch" you can give them is to have Jews living peacefully on "their" street, or enjoying "their" music at a Jewish function.

(For other self-proclaimed anti-semites, check out author Roald Dahl. Personally I prefer to say "Jew-haters", because that was the original term before the PC folk got a hold of it, and because some of the worst Jew-haters are themselves Semitic.)
Hinei ma tov...

Shalom also fowards some more Al Hanisim clips:
First of all, how'd you know it was me?

Second, I've uploaded yet another Al Hanisim, this time really the original (it came out before the composer's own version).
YouTube - Really The Original Al Hanisim (Izhar Cohen, 1974)

(Someone else has uploaded a live performance at YouTube - אודי דוידי- על הניסים. Good stuff.)

Also, I've put up the original version of Tanchum Portnoy's Eitz Chaim, so the folks who sing it wrong can learn the right way.
YouTube - עץ חײם (The Original "Eitz Chaim" (Tanchumim, 1975 - composed by Tanchum Portnoy
A valiant attempt, but there is no chance that'll help.

Bob writes:
I think many Shlomo Carlebach tunes would go really well with a Caribbean-style steel band. Has this been done? I'd pay for a CD like this.
Yehudah Mond writes:
Tribute to Moshe Yess A"H:
Although it has been two weeks since the passing of Moshe Yess A"H, he deserves honorable mention for the major influence he's had on JM. While some might argue that he has gone off the deep end during the last few years, his musical style and personality is inimitable. For those old enough to remember there was Megama, and even the younger generation knows "My Zaide", with many a budding guitar player picking out the chords to that song (can't miss that CMaj7). His voice added a whole lot of feeling to Journeys 1 through 3 (e.g. The Ninth Man, No Place Like Home, Ride the Train, The Rebbe of Lublin, Pesach Blues and more), The Amazing Torah Bike, Miami Experience 1, and of course the immortal Marvelous Middos Machine...
Like Dr. Doomshtein, whom Yess played to perfection on MMM, Moshe Yess was also a ba'al t'shuvah who became involved with Jewish music while in Yeshivas D'var Yerushalayim. The bold, daring characteristic of his unique bass voice, and his personality, which shone through every recording, will be sorely missed.
Shmuel writes:
With all the brouhaha surrounding the passing of Debbie Friedman, it seems that the untimely passing of Moshe Yess, one of the seminal figures in modern Jewish music has gone unnoticed. Having worked with Moshe and Megama on several occasions back in the day, I can truly say that he was perhaps the finest singer/songwriter to cross over from the secular world. The man had real chops and he knew how to craft a pop song. His approach to Jewish music was original and totally out of the box. Lyrically, he had the soul of a poet. The effect that his song “My Zayde” had as far as lighting up Jewish souls across the world is simply incalculable. I still get requests for it almost every time I play out. (I frequently play for older crowds). Simply astounding. On top of that he was a really, really nice guy – just wanted to sit and jam.