Sunday, January 18, 2004

HASC Story

The big HASC concert is tonight, so I thought I'd share a HASC related story.

Years ago, a woman who I didn't know called me to try and set me up with someone. When I asked her how she felt she could set me up even though we'd never met and she didn't know me personally, her reply was that she was very involved with HASC and had seen what goes on backstage at the annual HASC concert. She told me that she "knows" what kind of lifestyle we "frum" musicians lead. Her impression was that "frum" musicians drink, get high, are promiscuous, and don't take yiddishkeit seriously. As a result, she was trying to set me up with a woman who was compatible with those "values" or lack thereof.

Frankly, her assumption, although in many cases unfair, is an accurate assessment of some of the JM people involved in the HASC event. For instance, it is widely known that one of the big "stars" drinks like a fish and gets plastered backstage before appearing onstage.

Incidentally, this behavior is being emulated by some of the younger singers now, too. I have heard about the members of one younger group swigging vodka backstage during intermission at their debut concert from a bottle they'd hidden in the restroom wastebasket.

Based on my experiences with many of these people and their backstage behavior at other concerts, I can totally understand how this woman arrived at her conclusion. The tone and general atmosphere behind the scenes at many of these events is quite low, however, it is by no means reflective of the many in the business, including performers at those events, who do try to keep to a higher level. Many musicians have complained to me recently about the atmosphere backstage at these events. Specifically, many are disturbed by the wholly inappropriate language and comments coming from "frum" and even "Chassidish" producers, performers and the like. The JM industry needs to hold itself to a higher standard.