Sunday, August 31, 2003

T-Shirt Slogan

Had an idea for a JM related T-shirt:

I love Jewish Music.... it's the disco I hate!

Whaddya think?

Song Requests

Tonight the band got a request for "Kol Sasson". It took a while to figure out which song the kid who requested it meant. He wanted to hear M'heira by Ya'akov Shwekey. The high part of the song begins with the words "kol sasson."

Incidentally, that high part makes a lot of folks think of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On."

Very often, people come over to the band to request songs w/o knowing the song's title. This frequently makes for some laughs on the bandstand.

Best request in this vein ever, "Shifty Whoo", by someone who wanted to hear an older version of Achas Shoalti that was popular in their summer camp.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Carlebach Lawsuit

Here's an article about the copyright infringement lawsuit Neshama and Nedara Carlebach filed several months ago seeking 2.6 million dollars in damages.

Troubling part:
"In a joint statement to the Forward, Neshama, who has launched her own successful music career, and Nedara said: "It truly breaks our hearts to see how badly and unjustly [our father] has been repaid for his unconditional giving. And it is especially sad because some of those who are the worst offenders are religious Jews who hide behind the claim they act in the name of G-D and holiness. We pray that somehow this is rectified. We pray that one day, after all these years, our father can truly rest in peace."

I fully support the families right to obtain royalties for the use of Shlomo's music, but the gratuitous Orthodox bashing is disturbing. (All of the named defendants are Orthodox.) To my knowledge, none of the performers, producers, distributors, or retailers have claimed that they are distributing Shlomo's music "in the name of G-D and holiness." More likely, given the poor quality of the bootlegs, they are distributed "in the name of making a quick buck!"

I do believe that religious Jews ought to be held to a higher standard, and if the Carlebach sisters would have said something along the lines of: "...and it is especially sad because religious Jews are obligated to abide by the laws of the land (dina d'malchusa dina)," then I wouldn't find their statement troubling.

However, the assertion that these people are "hiding behind the claim that they act in the name of G-D and holiness," frankly, sounds to me like an anti-Semitic slur rather than the type of criticism that I imagine Shlomo would have found appropriate.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Band Name Generator

I put the name of the largest Jewish band in town, Neginah Orchestra, into the "Band Name Generator."

My best result: "Greedy Neginah"
Although "Neginah Shameless" has a nice ring to it too.
"Snake of the Disgusting Neginah" isn't bad either.

Try it yourself!

The Artist Formerly Known As...

First, Prince changed his name to a glyph, then Puff Daddy became P.Diddy...

now Yisroel Williger is "Srully Williger!"

What is it with Sheya Mendlowitz produced recordings? First, Jonathan Morgenstern gives up any name recognition he had from his days as a soloist for the Miami Boys Choir to become Shalom Morgenstern, and now this! What's the point???

As a side rant, why do so many of the "YU" artists feel the need to pretend to be "yeshivish" to market their albums? Jonathan Morgenstern becoming "Shalom" Morgenstern is one example - BTW, wouldn't the authentically yeshivish spelling be "Sholom" with two O's? - and the Kol Zimra guys, who put on black velvet yarmulkas instead of their usual kippot srugot for their album cover are another.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Silly English Lyrics

I've always been fascinated by the lyrics to the English language songs on Jewish music albums. They usually contain cheesy cliches, silly analogies, and are often meant to be tearjerkers, although they more often induce laughter. They contain words like "strive" and "yearn", and consist of elementary-school level statements of faith end belief. And, although there are exceptions, they are rare.

My nomination for the worst English Jewish music song ever is the song "The Shabbos Candles" from the Miami Boys Choir album "Stand Up" (not to be confused with "Shteyt Oyf "by the Klezmatics.) Released in 1999, the song was basically outdated by the time the album was in stores.

The best verse:

"They call it Y2K - the experts say
We'll all be confined to a room
Will the world stand still? They said it will
Bringing sadness, heartache, and doom
We'll still have the light of the Shabbos candles."

Runners up include "The Voice of a New Generation" from Yisroel Williger's debut album, and more recently, "Watch Over Me" from Lev Tahor 2.

Coming soon: The first ever "fisking" of a Jewish music song. Feel free to suggest a song!

About Eli Gerstner

"Eli Gerstner didn't gradually rise to celebrity status. No such luck. Fame hurled itself upon Eli and hit him like a ton of bricks.... Only recently he was a little-knowing counselor banging on his drums in summer camp."

All this and more on his website.

Little-knowing!!! Have I mentioned that I love Jewish music PR!

80's Music Reviews

Here are some interesting reviews/reminiscences on Jewish music from the 1980’s.

Best Line: "The first song,[on MBD's Double Album] “Da’agah Minayin,” lets us know that the man we all want to hire for our weddings but realistically know we can only afford Shelly Lang, is bringin’ it."

Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcement

Here are the lyrics to "I'm So Sick of Racheim."

Monday, August 18, 2003

The Key Change Controversy!

Here’s an interesting website dedicated to particularly egregious key changes called the "The Truck Driver's Gear Change Hall Of Shame."

Greg agrees with this characterization of modulation, but Steve thinks that key changes are cool.

Personally, I think that interesting key changes can add a lot to an arrangement, but I think that the technique is overused and often poorly done, on many of today's jewish music recordings.

Via Instapundit.

An example of a "gear change" key shift on a Jewish tune can be found in the arrangement of "Kein Yehi Ratzon" on The Chevra's debut album.

Friday, August 15, 2003

What You Hear Isn't What You Get

Recent comments on the Yahoo Jewish Music group website point out that often, the musicians that show up to perform at an affair are not of the same quality as the musicians on the groups recordings.

This post addresses the issue as it relates to vocal groups, but the same criticisms can be applied to the wedding bands as well. The quality of the band at a given affair is often lower than what the client expected.

This can happen for several reasons.

1) It is quite common for some bands to misrepresent which musicians will be at an affair in order to book a gig. This can take many forms from using musicians who aren’t available with that band on their demos to promising musicians that they know are unavailable that evening, possibly even because they are already on another job for that band.

2) On busy nights, the larger offices may hire a lot of freelancers so that they can send out more bands. The band may rely on one or two of its regulars to “hold things together” on each bandstand, and fill the rest of the band with ringers. These ringers may be good musicians, but the band will still not be as “tight” as it is when the regulars who play together all the time are on the job.

3) Some smaller bands promise “name” musicians who are available at the time the job is booked, and take the job, but then cancel when the their regular band gets a gig. This is often an honest mistake on the part of the small bandleader, but it’s also one that is to be expected.

4) Some bands have released many albums and people assume that that’s what the band sounds like. A closer look at the liner notes reveals that the musicians used are not the bands regular players, and often aren’t even in the USA. Incidentally, many times the band has had nothing to do with the album, and the artist puts their name on it because he gets a lot of work from them.

5) Sometimes the bandleaders are too lazy to make the calls to find a good musician for a particular slot and rely on their band leading skills to hold everything together. I regularly receive calls in on Thursdays in June from “name” bands that need a musician for a wedding the following Sunday. Weddings aren’t usually booked at the last minute, so what this tells me is that either they were lax in trying to fill the slot, or one of their musicians cancelled on them. The fact that this happens regularly leads me to believe that it’s the latter reason.

Look for my recommendations on how to avoid this issue coming soon!

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Williger gets dissed!

There's a backhanded swipe at Yisroel Williger in reason number nine here!
I wonder why many of these jokes seem funnier if Williger is mentioned instead of Dachs, Wald, et al.

Anyone have an explanation?

Take My Blog, Please!

Today I was called the “Henny Youngman of the J-blogosphere” by Protocols. A link and a compliment! Cool!

This blog is meant to include serious thought-out musings and essays, as well as humorous Jewish music related posts. It is very much a work in progress. Any thoughts, suggestions, comments, links, or feedback is appreciated.

Please note: Blogging will remain slow due to an extremely busy gigging season of camp concerts and Catskills gigs as well as the usual wedding and Bar/Bat Mitzvah performances. No gig details because I've chosen to remain anonymous for now. (This despite the offer of a free Jewish music CD from the album's producer.)

Monday, August 11, 2003

Zen thought of the day!

If a new Yisroel Williger CD is released, and no one buys it, will it still make a sound?

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Rockin' Rabbi

For all you rock music fans, Rabbi Sol Blazowitz sings a "Heimish" version of Helter Skelter.
(Flash player required)

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Torah Thought!

I thought that I’d share a music related thought on the “Three Weeks” with you.
I heard in a taped shiur by R’ Yosef Gavriel Bechofer that it’s OK to play kid’s tapes for young children during the “Three Weeks”, despite the prohibition on listening to music, because “it’s annoying.”

Who says that music criticism doesn’t have practical halachik applications?

I wonder, would this mean that Michael Steinhart, would be permitted to attend a hypothetical Shwekey concert during the “Nine Days?”

As a side note, the end of the “Three Weeks” means that I’ll be really busy gigging over August as people try to squeeze their simchas in before the Chagim start so blogging may be intermittent for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Linked by the Elders

Some of the commentators on Protocols link to my earlier post What You Hear Isn't What You Get (Part Deux) seem to have missed the point. (BTW, thanks for the link guys!)

One writes "Another compelling argument to make a "takkanedigeh-chassunah" and book a one-man band. (As if we needed more reasons...)" while another says: "Best solution: more frum disk jockeys."

Talk about missing the point! Instead of a finding and hiring a good live band, these folks would rather sit through an evening of canned electronic music. A good DJ or one-man band can get the job done, but they'll never compare to the energy put out by a good live band.

Better Than Chevra!

Look out Chevra, Kol Zimra, Beatachon, Az Yashir, et al.

Here come the singing horses!

Great Moments in Music History!

I've never gotten asked to play this!

I have actually been asked for each song separately, though.

High Expectations!

Here are some gift giving tips for all you engaged Brooklyn couples out there who aren't sure what you should get for your fiancée.

Sadly, this is meant to be serious.

But, G-d forbid that anyone should spend "too much" on the band!

This isn't me!!!

Looking for a klezmer band?

More on the Chevra

Country Yossi says: "Eli has his finger on the pulse of today's generation. He has a keen sense of our musical tastes and disposition. He recognizes our likes and dislikes. That's not something he learned in music school or read about in a book. That's just something that he was born with."

He also says: "Come on, Eli. You make it sound so easy. As if it were no big deal to create a song like "Yehai," with such universal appeal that it can be chanted gleefully by young children, while its deeper message of ultimate peace granted by the Ribono Shel Olam can be appreciated by everyone else. And while "Yehai" has become something of a banner song for our community these days, it represents only the tip of the vast and elaborate iceberg known as the Chevra."

Read the whole thing!

You just can't make this stuff up!!!

Jewish star's secrets revealed!!! Part 1

The Chevra's secret – exposed here!

An explanation of how it works thoughtfully provided by Instapundit!

Monday, August 04, 2003

Radical Jewish Music (Not by John Zorn)

The Ha’aretz article below really disturbed me when I first saw it reprinted in The Forward last September.

"Background / A new, worrying phenomenon in religious Zionism”
By Yair Sheleg, Ha'aretz Correspondent"

"Yitzhak Meir, a member of the National Religious Party's executive, was very surprised to hear some of the songs that were sung during the recent Simhat Torah celebrations at his synagogue in Kochav Yair. In the midst of the familiar texts, he suddenly discerned new words: Samson's prayer from the book of Judges (16:28) - "O Lord God! Please remember me, and give me strength just this once, O God, to take revenge of the Philistines, if only for one of my eyes."

"The choice of these words, expressing the desire for revenge, troubled Meir. While arguing about this text with some of his friends at the synagogue, Meir heard another unfamiliar song - an upbeat tune about the young Moshe slaying the Egyptian taskmaster: "He turned this way and that and, seeing no one about, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand." (Exodus 2:12)"

"I grew up in Bnei Akiva," Meir says, "and I even wrote words for some of the movement's well-known songs. These were songs about the love of Torah and love of the land of Israel, but we never sang songs of vengeance."

"Meir began to ask some of his young acquaintances about these new songs and learned that the music for the song about Samson was composed by Dov Shurin, who is associated with the outlawed Kach movement of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane."

"Shurin became known as an extremist when he hosted a late-night program on the Arutz 7 radio station. Among other statements, he praised Yoram Skolnick (who murdered a captured Palestinian youth suspected in a stabbing attack in 1993) and Ami Popper (who opened fire on Arab workers in Rishon Letzion, killing seven, in 1990). Shurin called Skolnick and Popper "righteous people who did what many of us have thought to do but lacked the courage."

"Meir also discovered that in some of the places where this song of vengeance is popular, the young people dance to the song while waving knives."

"Yuval Friedman, an economist who graduated from a yeshiva high school, says he was also disturbed by the song on Simhat Torah. "When I told this to a friend, he said to me: 'What are you talking about? There are weddings where no knives remain on the tables when this song is sung, because they are used as props for the song'."

"Friedman continues: "This song, together with older songs like 'Build the Temple, burn the mosque,' which we song back in my high school days, really disturb me. Not that this proves that our youth are driven by vengeance, or are about to burn mosques, but the educational significance of these songs are problematic."

"Meir wrote a letter about the songs to several leading rabbis in the national religious camp, including MK Rabbi Haim Druckman (NRP), Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, Rabbi Yehuda Amital and Rabbi Zalman Melamed. He also sent a letter to Israel's chief rabbis - Yisrael Lau and Eliahu Bakshi-Doron."

"The chief rabbis, Rabbi Druckman and Rabbi Melamed have yet to respond to the letter. Rabbi Amital spoke with Meir and said he shared his concern. Rabbi Aviner, who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem, referred Meir to a legal (halachic) ruling he wrote in response to someone who complained that the words to the song about Samson "seem to be unethical."

"In his ruling, Rabbi Aviner wrote in praise of vengeance and noted that the prohibition against taking vengeance does not apply to serious cases like lethal attacks. The rabbi emphasized that there is a value in vengeance in the national realm as an expression of deterrence."

"The realization that there will be vengeance for every crime is a deterrent to crime and thus saves the need for vengeance." He noted, however, "This does not grant a license for individual acts of vengeance - this is a matter to be decided by a religious court (beit din), which in our days means 'the national leadership'."

"Rabbi Sherlo, who heads a hesder yeshiva in Petah Tikva, also referred Meir to a halachic response that was recently published in a commentary on the weekly Torah portion. "Vengeance teaches that there is law and a judge, and that the criminal will be punished," he wrote."

"However, Rabbi Sherlo insisted that vengeance should not be the subject of songs and dances: "We don't dance over the spilling of blood... We don't ignore the heavy price that vengeance brings in its wake, and the endless cycle of violence. We don't dance about vengeance because we are careful not to be spoiled by it, not to become enamored of it and of the evil it generates in the world."

The article has been reproduced in both the extreme right-wing magazine Voice of Judea and on the radically left-wing websiteJewish Tribal Review (scroll down for article).

Interestingly, both the right and left wing sites --each for their own reasons-- omit the moderate statements by Rav Amital and Rabbi Sherlo. The Kahanists are incapable of understanding moderation and the leftists are unable to acknowledge that the extreme-right is not representative of all “frum” Jews.

I've always been disturbed by the connection between the Brooklyn jewish music scene and the radical “Kahanistas.” Dov Shurin, extremist, and the composer of the song, Zochreini Na, writes a regular column for the Country Yossi magazine, a journal which has come to be identified with the JM scene. I find it embarrassing that the JM community isn’t ashamed to be associated with such amoral, anti-halachik views.

In addition to Dov Shurin’s recording of Zochreini Na, the song has been covered by Shalhevet Orchestra and their version is frequently played on Nachum Segal’s JM in the AM radio broadcast.
I think that at the very least there ought to be a public debate about the appropriateness of singing “songs of revenge”, but to the best of my knowledge, no Rav here in America has addressed the issue. The artists, producers, distributors, and promoters on the “scene” here have an obligation to the communal good and shouldn’t be associating themselves with extremist views.

It is not my intent to deny Mr. Shurin the right to express his views, abhorrent though they are. But, I am saddened at the lack of moderate voices on the Jewish music scene and troubled by their flirtation with and tacit endorsement of the radical right.

One can oppose Israel giving Chevron to the PA, and sing about it, without using the slogan associated with the radical settler movement "Chevron Me'az U'litamid" which Dedi used in his song about Chevron. And, one can be opposed to the “Road map” and a strong supporter of Israel without praising murder or endorsing violence.

Mordechai Ben David also uses the slogan "Chevron Me'az U'litamid" in his Chevron song from a few years back.

New Square Talking Fish (Carlebach Style)

For those of you who haven't heard it yet, here's the Talking Fish Song! (scroll down and click on the link.)

For those who aren't familiar with the story, here are links to a few articles about it:
BBC News
The NY Observer

Shlomo would have been amused, I'm sure!

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Some music reviews you won’t find in Country Yossi magazine:

The reviews are excessively nasty, and I do wish that the tone was different, but ultimately, I think that they are for the most part accurate.

The Philharmonic Experience: The Music of Rabbi Michel Twersky (Jewish Alternative Movement)
"Twerski is a prominent Hasidic rabbi from Milwaukee, known for his settings of the liturgy as much for his leadership and warmth. Recently, the Milwaukee Symphony performed arrangements of some of his compositions. This CD, however, uses a pickup group composed of Israel Philharmonic players conducted by Zeev Dorman, pianist Daniel Beliavsky and tenor Avromie Flam, performing charts by Yisroel Lamm. The result is infuriating. Twerski's melodies are charming and simple, the work of a man who is not a professional musician but who clearly has the soul of a tzadik. Lamm's arrangements are flatulent pseudo-Broadway bombast, a perfect complement to Flam's posturing vocals, drenched in fake emotion. The orchestra plays exceptionally well, but to what purpose? It is unusual for a record to make me angry. This record did that by insulting the music it purports to showcase. Rating: no stars, with a heartfelt apology to Rabbi Twerski."

And this brief review of Rabbi Moshe Shur's: "Renaissance" (Hillel):
"Imitation Carlebach meets "smooth jazz." Nightmarish. Rating: no stars."

Interestingly, though, he likes Williger’s Carlebach Friday Night (Sameach) :
Williger set out to recreate the Carlebach kabbalat shabbat repertoire and, despite the presence of a synth and electric keyboards, he manages the job quite nicely. Whats missing, of course, is Reb Shlomo's particular brand of ruakh and his storytelling, but the music is here and well performed. Williger's voice is not much more than serviceable, but if you are into Carlebach you won't have a big problem with it. The "Titkabel" is particularly spirited. Rating: 4 stars.

Update: For some reason the latter two links aren't working right now, but, if you Google "George Robinson Shur" and "George Robinson Williger" you'll find them.

Superfreaky Lubavitcher!!!

Check out's Superfreaky Lubavitcher!!! (note: Windows media player required to view this clip.) This ain't no Alter Rebbe's Nigun!

via Protocols

What You Hear Isn't What You Get (Part Deux)

In an earlier post “What You See Isn’t What You Get”, I discussed the fact that often the musicians that show up to perform at an affair are not of the same quality as the musicians on the group’s demo or commercial recordings.

Here’s my advice for avoiding the issue.

If you’re at an affair and you don’t like the band, make a mental note of which band is performing and don’t hire them for your event. This applies whether the band was too loud, was incompetent, or even just didn’t look professional with cases strewn around the bandstand or musicians in shabby or dirty clothes. This even applies if you’ve also seen the band other times and been impressed. You’ll never know which version you’ll get until it’s too late. The only exception to this rule would be if the band didn’t play the songs you’d like to hear at your event. If everything else seemed ok and the band was great except for their song selection, then I would suggest speaking to the bandleader to find out why they chose those songs. It is quite possible that the client had specific music requests that they were honoring.

As a general rule, my experience is that the smaller regular working bands provide the best guarantee of consistency. These groups, usually led by the band owner himself, typically book one event per timeslot. The regular musicians are all on the job and the band sounds the same at every gig. You can do well with the larger bands too, but on busy days, like Sundays in June, when they book many simultaneous affairs, the quality often drops as they spread their regular musicians across many bandstands and supplement with lots of freelancers. One way around this is to get the band to guarantee that specific musicians will be at your simcha by putting their names in the contract, but be aware that the largest band regularly agrees to such clauses despite the fact that they know those musicians will not be able to be at your affair. (Sometimes, this is because they’ve promised the same musicians to multiple clients.) After all, you won’t find out about it until your event, and at that point, there’s not much you can do about it.

The most important factor, though, is to find a bandleader that you trust. Ultimately, the success of the music at your event is in his hands. If you’re going with a larger band, make sure that you know who will be the bandleader at your event, and that you speak to him before hiring the band. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page. Also, by speaking to the actual bandleader instead of the band salesman or agent, you’ll have a better sense of whether or not the band can fulfill your musical requirements.

More Reader Correspondence:

I’ve had an interesting back and forth with one of my readers. He is also involved in the music business as is obvious from his writing. I’m reproducing the correspondence here because it raises several important issues and I feel that it will be of interest to many. I’ve eliminated all identifying information about my correspondent –I know who he is – to preserve his anonymity.

In response to my previous post the reader wrote:
“Wow … I'm one of "them"(the evil side of JM).

Actually, I'm far from being burned out… I have a great time doing gigs and playing out. I could have even played with you at some point. I guess I would know who you are if you weren't under that shroud of anonymity. What I meant was - this topic is like, so 5 years ago. In the immortal words of Frank Zappa - "Shut up and play yer guitar" (no disrespect)”

My response:
"A few points:
1. Just for the record, I don’t believe that there is an “evil” side of Jewish music, just an unethical, dishonest one.
2. I wrote that you seem to be burned out because you wrote, “I mean we all have lost interest so long ago, so why bother?” Also, you went to the effort of sending me an email. I’m glad to hear that you love playing out; it didn’t sound like that from your first email.
3. I’m curious. What makes this topic “5 minutes ago?”
4. I’m taking your inclusion of the Zappa quote it in the humorous spirit you obviously meant it (”no disrespect”), but the implication from both your emails is if you’re not interested in a topic, than I shouldn’t write about it. We CAN have different opinions, right?"

His rejoinder:
"1. Every business has unethical people, doing what they can to make a buck. JM is, of course, no different. You can't expect CY to print accurate reviews of JM, since that is his revenue source. I think everyone who reads the mag knows the score by now as far as the authenticity of the reviews.

2. Don't be fooled - in Rolling Stone, the writers are paid off by the labels, trust me. It's the same as radio - do think what you are being fed is what the people actually like? It is well known that the practices of "payola" are widespread in radio. Nachum Segal show not withstanding - I should know - I personally "payola-ed" him recently for promotion of a certain album. Is it wrong? Maybe. Is there anything we can do at this point to stop this practice, and get free album promotion? No. So basically you have a choice today - stand up for your values, and refuse to participate in these questionable practices and get lost in a sea of other releases, or give in, and have a chance at success.

3. 5 years ago, actually. Because JM has been in dire straits that long ago, and even further.

4. Certainly, you can write whatever your heart feels, no sweat bro - you are entitled to your opinions just like I am mine. Just don't eat yourself up about the whole stitch."

My answer:
"I disagree. JM is different. It ought to be held to a higher standard because the content of the material is mainly Torah and the marketing ought to reflect Torah values. Also, it seems like almost every album is marketed this way.

With regard to CY magazine: I have no problem with his printing purely positive reviews of an album. I linked to Ari Goldwag's site as a positive example of such an ad. My issue is with the fact that these ads are represented as “reviews” rather than ads. No reputable secular newspaper or magazine would run an “ad” like that without including the words “advertisement” on the top of each page. Although you and I and many more sophisticated people are aware that the entire CY magazine is essentially one paid ad, many of CY’s readers do not appear to be aware of this. That’s why he often gets letters criticizing the fact that all of the album reviews are always glowingly positive.

I am aware that “payola” is common in the secular world, but I believe that the “Frum” world should hold itself to a higher standard. I do understand why you felt it necessary to participate in the system to promote your artist’s album, though. Did it work for you? Was it worth the expense?

I may want to use some of this in a future blog post, obviously, as before; I wouldn’t post any identifying information about you."

He emails:
"Feel free to use anything you want for the blog. Hey, maybe I can be a guest columnist once in a while..."

Hmm…. A guest blogger….. something to mull over.
What do you think?

Friday, August 01, 2003

Response To a Reader email

Today I received the following email:
“ I too, am a performing musician in the NYC area, and just out of curiosity - if you are actually a gigging musician - why does any of this matter to you? I mean we all have lost interest so long ago, so why bother?”

I think in many ways the comment speaks for itself. I think that if this musician expressed his feelings directly to the clients when they were deciding which band to use, he probably wouldn’t be hired very often. I think people want to hire musicians who care about the music they play. The writer seems to be "burned out" and doesn't understand why anyone should care about these things.

I believe that one of the most important values in life is “emes” (honesty).

My posts, About Yidden and More on Plagiarism on plagiarism reflect a disappointment with the fact that dishonesty and theft have become all too common in the music industry.. I know that it’s been this way for a long time, but I think that pointing it out will hopefully have a positive impact.

Similarly, my post What You Hear Isn't What You Get about bands misrepresenting themselves to clients reflects a frustration with the lying that has unfortunately become the paradigm for the way many in the Jewish music field conduct business.

And, my post Shamelessness about artists saying whatever they think will sell a given project, without regard for whether it’s true or not, reflects a feeling of sadness with the current marketing for the Brooklyn/Yeshivish Jewish music.

It has become common practice to advertise new albums in the following way:

1) To hang up posters proclaiming the release of the new “hit” recording on lampposts in Orthodox neighborhoods. This is a violation of local ordinances and, in my opinion, is a huge “Chillul Hashem.”

2) To have a cover story about the album/artist appear in the Country Yossi magazine that is widely distributed in “Heimishe” neighborhoods. This article – in reality a paid advertisement – is disingenuously presented as an objective review of the album.

I have no problems with an artist describing why he thinks his album is the next “big hit”, but I do take issue with articles and interviews pretending to be objective when, in reality, they are designed to push the album.

I think that the frequency of dishonest ads has had a deleterious effect on the community at large and I believe that the music industry, though by no means the sole offenders, bears a large part of the blame for this because it's the only Jewish industry I can think of that consistently markets its products using false pretenses. It’s normal for advertisers to say that their product is “the best”, but there’s a difference between saying it as hyperbole, and putting it out there in a way that is deceitful.

My post On Jewish Music Criticism takes on the distortions often represented by would-be critics of today’s Jewish music. It is equally wrong for critics to distort facts about a recording in order to create a negative impression, even though it is tempting to respond in kind to the propaganda emanating from the music industry.

I hope that being “called” on these unethical practices will hopefully help to effect some positive change.

Is it more than wishful thinking to believe that my blog will have an impact? Perhaps, but as an idealist I need to make the effort.

Ari Goldwag's website includes a good example of an ad that promotes an album --in this case Ari's solo effort -- without being misleading. Ari, like many other singers, paid for an ad/article in the Febuary-March 2003 Issue of Country Yossi magazine. Instead of running the usual "pretend" review written by one of the magazines staff writers where every song is a hit and no aspect of an album is ever criticized, Ari chose to write the article himself. In this case, no misrepresentations are made, the reader knows that the article represents the artist’s perspective, and as a result can form their opinion accordingly.