Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Badger Badger Badger

Why does this sound Jewish to me???

Update: Link was broken. It's fixed now.

Pearls of Antiquity

The Jewish Press letters section this week features some responses to Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser's screed against secular influences in Jewish music. I will hopefully address his assertions in depth at a later date as time permits. The main problem I have with these types of presentations is the fact that the writers – in this case Rabbi Goldwasser – tend to present only one side of a controversial issue, citing only the sources backing up their point of view, without acknowledging that there are many reliable dissenting shittos. There's nothing wrong with adopting a stringent approach, but intellectual honesty demands acknowledging the existence of another legitimate side to the debate.

Here are the responses:
Non-Jewish Melodies (I)
The outrageous denunciation by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser (Jewish Press, March 19) of melodies not written specifically for Orthodox Jewish purposes smacks of a medieval type of thinking that, unfortunately, characterizes much of today`s right-wing Orthodoxy. To imply that simple musical tunes — nothing more than a combination of musical notes — will in any way have a corrupting influence goes beyond any attempt at rational thinking. (Rabbi Goldwasser had previously gone so far as to state that secular melodies corrupt one’s neshama.)
Now, if he had denounced the often licentious and disgusting lyrics that some modern- day songs contain, I would certainly support his assertions. But instead he issued a blanket condemnation of all non-Jewish melodies, even if they have Orthodox Jewish themes and words as their lyrics.
Maybe Rabbi Goldwasser does not recall that the Lubavitcher Rebbe permitted his chassidim to make the French national anthem into a niggun. The Rebbe stated that by doing so one raises something that is not holy into the realm of holiness.
Anyone who finds himself spiritually corrupted by a secular melody alone — especially one that’s been made into an Orthodox Jewish song — is more likely to suffer from a mental illness than any spiritual threat.
Robert M. Solomon, Brooklyn, NY
Non-Jewish Melodies (II)
Rabbi Goldwasser may be a wonderful spiritual leader and a man of great midos, but apparently he’s not up on his history. Torah Jews have been appropriating non-Jewish melodies for centuries. The melodies of many chassidishe niggunim were adopted from non-Jewish sources — the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Schneur Zalman of Liadi, did this with “Napoleon’s March”; another Chabad favorite, “Niggun Shamil,” was written by an imprisoned Ukrainian peasant who longed for his homeland.
In addition, the melody of the beloved Chanukah song “Maoz Tzur” is actually based on the tune of several 16th- century German folksongs (“Ich weiss ein Meidlein huebsch und fein,” “Van oninck Maximilian,” and “So weiss ich eins”).
Kalman Fischer, New York, NY
Thanks, E!

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 Discussion Board

Ira Silber's sister posts on thread which mirrored some of the memories of Ira posted here.

She writes:
This is Ira's sister writing. It is still too hard for me to write anything at length, other than saying thank you to all of you who took the time to write about Ira ZA"L. It means so much to me, to his kids and to all his friends. Our pain is great, as is our loss. He was a precious brother and person. We are not telling my mother, and I was able to sit SHiva here in Yerushalayim without her 'catching on'. If anyone of you has any more good thoughts and memories, please add them, it is a great comfort. Be Blessed.
Rochel Rena Silber Har Nof, Yerushalayim
If the person who decided to post those had included a link to our site, the family would be able to read all of the pieces we've posted.

Afikoman Gift Suggestions

It's that time of year again; when people start wondering what to get their kids for Afikoman presents.

Blog in Dm is pleased to offer up some helpful music-related suggestions.

First up is Grunt: Pigorian Chant from Snouto Domoinko De Silo, a book/CD set by Sandra Boynton.

Here's the Washington Post's description:
Inevitably, the craze for Gregorian Chant in the past few years had to provoke a backlash; the only question was when and in what form it would arrive. One answer is a book titled "Grunt." Its front cover has a cartoon of four pigs, holding candles, looking reverent and floating against a sky-blue background with fleecy clouds-a visual echo of the cover on a best-selling disc by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, who stated the craze. Inside the cover is a compact disc of "Pigorian Chant" performed by the "Ad Hog Camerata." The music sounds like authentic Gregorian chant, and the singing-under the direction of two well-credentialed directors-is quite good. Some of the texts are in authentic (though not liturgical) Latin, for example: "Ecce Macdonaldus senex, qui fundum habet" (Behold Old MacDonald, who has a farm"). Others are in pig Latin-for example, "Y-whay are-ay e-way ere-hay?" E way are-ay ere-hay o-taying-say ad nauseam." Sophomoric? Of course, but also occasionally cute. And, we might add, sui generis.

Next up is Mad Maestro!

Amazon's description:
The city has announced plans to destroy the concert hall! Enter the hero, Takt, a young conductor attempting to recruit the best musicians so they can put on a mega concert to save the performance hall. In order to accomplish this, Takt must travel around the city making people happy with his music and recruiting them for his orchestra. Among the recruits: a lion, a supermodel, a fisherman, and space aliens. Once he has his ensemble together, it's time for the big show: a musical extravaganza at the symphony hall. Perform perfectly and you will save the hall and keep music alive for generations to come. The game features 11 levels, including the epic performance at the symphony hall. Touch-sensitive controls allow you to feel the music. The soundtrack features Brahms, Strauss, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Beethoven, and more.

Look Ma, No Instruments

The Jewish Week writes about Jewish acapella.

MBD sings Yechi

Here's a report on the "Meshichist" rally in Israel from
The article notes:
The evening concluded with singing by Dovid Hertz, the performer Chaim Avraham and Mordechai Ben David. The crowd danced enthusiastically, as well as joining in with the performers when they sang "Yechi."

More Memories of Ira Silber Z"L

Psachya Septimus writes:
I remember the first time and the last time I saw Ira. The first time was in 1986. I was a college kid fresh back from studying in Israel, trying to establish myself in the business with a borrowed keyboard & amp. I was picking up my kid sister from Shulamit Yeshiva, and I had an hour to kill. I looked up, and there was the sign for Ruach Orchestra. A smaller sign on the door said "Come on up & say Hi." So I did.
I had always been intimidated about trying out for the bands, but the sign looked so friendly that I walked right in. And sitting in the office were two of my childhood idols - Ira Silber and Shmoo Klaver. (Shmoo, if you're reading this - sorry.) I still remember how kind they were to me. Instead of treating me like a dumb starstruck kid coming to waste their time (which I was), they were very friendly and treated me seriously. Ira took out an old keyboard & had me sight-read something, and I sang for them. Eventually, they had me sit in on a few gigs, and, relatively quickly, I was doing gigs with them.
Ira was the first guy in the business to give me leads. When I made the inevitable rookie mistakes (once I gave the guys a 10-minute break on a smorg - THE CUSTOMER WAS FURIOUS!), Ira would call me up, and gently discuss my transgressions. I never felt that he was scolding me - it was more of a clarification of events, with Ira totally on my side. In this way, I learned the business of club-dating in a non-pressure-cooker situation.
In later years, I didn't see Ira so frequently - as Shimmy & Lenny pointed out, keyboard guys don't see each other that often. I did work with him occasionally when he drummed for the Homowack lounge band. I remember his warm smile and gentle presence. At the time, the Homowack show band featured a real firecracker of an Israeli pianist. I remember Ira turning to me and saying, "I would give anything to be able to play like that guy." In fact, Ira was no slouch on the keyboards himself, but it was refreshing to see his combination of humility and appreciation for those who had reached the next level.
The last time I saw Ira was a few weeks ago, in the Neginah office. I was there on some business, and Ira was there in his corner office. I asked him how he was doing, and he said, "Not so well." I knew that to be a fact, as I had recently subbed for him during one of his hospital stays. He had been in poor health for years, yet he still had that gentle smile on his face. We talked about this and that for a few minutes, and we said goodbye. I never dreamed it would be for the last time.
Ira was one of the true gentlemen of the business. With him, it was never about ego, or attitude, or any of the silliness that often pervades the JM scene. He preferred to be behind the scenes - arranging the lead sheets, backboning the band on keys, and leaving the limelight to others. He will be greatly missed, and never forgotten.

Mitzvah Update!!!

Following up on our earlier post, Blog in Dm just received the following email
Certainly, I understand. Though it seems that they recorded and shared that recording intentionally, from some of the conversation, it's hard to tell what's going on.
So far you've been the first person to recognize the source of any of the mic in tracks.
The website now notes that:
"This mic in track has been taken down by request."
Blog in Dm gets results! And some of the vocalists out there owe us a big "Shkoiach!"

More Pesach Cleaning

Velvel finds an old Country Yossi mag with the following letter to the editor:
Dear Country Yossi,
As an avid concert-goer, I would like to express my concern over the kind of music making its way into our Yiddishe community. I attended a concert recently and greatly enjoyed the performers. However, I was shocked and offended by the jazzy, rap-style music of one group. Had I wanted a rocky, meaningless, and downright repulsive performance, I could have gone to a rock concert or tuned into some funky FM station.
Are these the role models we would like for our children? Is this the style of music befitting a frum community?
A Concerned Concert Goer
Velvel has no comment... but I do. I'm pretty sure that this writer has no idea what jazz or rap are. He just "knows" that they are bad. The appropriate style of music for the frum community is apparently cheesy pop/rock.


Velvel reveals what a Jewish magazine cover looks like without ads.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Blog in Dm Does A Mitzvah

It's Mitzvah Day at Blog in Dm and we've just sent the following email to the host of a website we discovered while surfing. The site hosts audio clips of "found music" downloaded from people's computers, apparently without their knowledge.No link supplied for reasons that should be self explanatory.
Hi there,
I listened to the track of folk songs you posted on your site on 11/5/03. I was quite surprised to find that I recognize the singers. The vocalists on that track -- although you couldn't tell it from this recording -- are popular recording artists on the New York Orthodox Music scene. Many of these singers donate their services regularly to perform for sick kids, and the recording you posted captures them doing just that. In this case, they are performing for a cancer patient. I know the doctors they mention as being present and they are both oncologists at Memorial Sloan Kettering here in NYC.
In light of this, it would probably be appropriate to take down this track, as I think it contains personal information that really ought not be publicized.
Here's how the website in question obtained the recording.
A "mic in track" is a recording made on a PC using MusicMatch Jukebox, a music utility packaged with many new PC's that allows the user to record from the microphone input of the PC's sound card and save the recording in mp3 format. The default filename is "mic in track" followed by a number.
If that user also happens to be running a file-sharing program (WinMX, Audiognome, Kazaa, etc.), and shares the directory in which the mic in track is stored, then these personal recordings can be easily downloaded from the user's computer. The vast majority of them are either silent or uninteresting, but many are like Christmas presents giftwrapped in nondescript serial numbers. They represent unique examples of audio vérité.
We're considering this a mitzvah both because of the personal info contained within the 24 minute long audio track, and because the singers would (or should) be quite embarrassed to have this out there. It reminds us of Linda McCartney, v'hameivin yavin!

Something Fishy

Aryeh Dworkin is comparing Billy Joel to gefilte fish.

Moshiach, Moshiach, Moshiach... Oy, Oy, Oy!

Protocols has info on the upcoming Meshichist rally in Crown Heights at which MBD is the featured entertainment. SIW notes:
Lastly, there's the promise of a "Special appearance by world famous Chasidic singer Mordechai ben David." One reader who sent this declared, "I think it is alarming that a mainstream, non-Lubavitcher Jewish singing star like him might participate, giving strength, credibility and encouragement to the messianic Lubavitchers." Such a concern would seem to me yet another claim that the yeshivish/chasidic music stars are to be considered role models, or that there's much more to their motivation beyond the money; this has consistently proven to be a poor claim to make. Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine how any non-messianist Jew would take part in this event in any fashion, and I wonder if he'll go through with it.
The commentators on that post take care of this one rather nicely. Go ye and read of it for it is good.

Da Bomb!

MO Chassid on recent concerts.

Pesach Cleaning Part Deux - Old JM PR Watch

During the aforementioned Pesach cleaning, I came across the April 1998 edition of Country Yossi Magazine. The cover "story" was about Yachad, an upcoming Yerachmiel Begun produced event, featuring vocalists Yisroel Williger, Mendy Wald, Shloime Dachs, Yeedle Werdyger, Shlomo Simcha, and Nachum Stark. The entire article is really precious.

Sample 'graf:
Expounding on the yachad in Yachad, Shlomo Simcha offers his own perspective, "The concept is incredible because everyone is working together. Achdus promotes itself, and that's why it's had such a tremendous response.
There's no lack of material to highlight here; I've chosen the following because I think it was funny then and even funnier in retrospect.
Yisroel Williger: Yachad at Brooklyn College promises to be more than a concert because the success of Yachad isn't defined by convention. It's truly an original worthy of Yerachmiel Begun."
The writer continues:
And Yisroel should know. Yerachmiel has guided his career with remarkable aplomb. As Williger explains, "I am very lucky to have a real hands-on producer/manager whose attention to detail is legendary." Now, poised for the release of his second album, to follow the succes of "Voice Of A New Generation," Williger fully appreciates how precise Begun is "in terms of show, song selection, career moves, and guiding me in how and what to do." And Williger matches that commitment with his own, "We're working day in and day out to make sure that the sound is very 90's, yet very recognizably heimish, in the true tradition of Jewish music." And of course the buzz is that it will be very successful, with arrangements by Moshe Laufer, and very appealing with songs that offer intergenerational appeal.
And then there was this:
Yerachmiel's viewpoint reflects the initiative of Yachad, "Yachad integrates the best of who we are as Jewish performers and Jews. Jewish music has to be Torahdik. It should not be diminished by influences that breach our sensitivities. We must be vigilant to create entertainment venues that create a Kiddush Hashem, otherwise we contribute to a collective 'avla' that is more destructive because it takes achdus and applies it with negative ramifications." Concerned that Jewish music may be detouring from the inspirational to the outrageous and the sensational, Yerachmiel has joined forces with others in the industry and community who have expressed their concern. Shirainu - Keeping The Jewish In Jewish Music is the organization that promises to inform the public and the industry of its responsibility to maintain Jewish decorum and dignity so that we are not distracted by secular persuasions. As such, it is appropriate to inaugurate the first in a series of Shirainu concerts as a separate seating event. Noting the significance of the Shirainu concept, Yerachmiel urged, "We have seen the enthusiasm that suffuses the audience when these artists perform solo, in concert. Together, under the Yachad banner, that exuberance will be multiplied sixfold. Though the evening is expected to be overwhelmingly fun and exciting it should be in the right mood and under the proper supervision."
Disclaimer: The spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors are as they were in the original.

Pesach Cleaning

While cleaning for Pesach, I came across an old NY Times article, "The Rhythm Century: The Unstoppable Beat" by Jon Pareles. The entire article is quite interesting.
Here's a 'graf that I think nails why many of us find so much of today's JM dissatisfying.
Melody has become beleaguered, the victim of shrinking attention spans as well as pushier rhythm sections. Tunes, as always, are music's mnemonics, something to hum on the way home after a performance, and some composers still dedicate themselves to graceful, asymmetrical arcs and ripples of melody. Yet from Broadway to the pop Top 10, even in ballads, melody is under pressure to reduce itself to hooks that are shorter than sound bites. Leisurely phrases are giving way to terse rhythmic modules: riffs replace arias. And it's a rare hit ballad that doesn't reappear with a dance-floor remix, substituting a big beat for a gushy crescendo.
These comments could just have easily been written about the contemporary Brooklyn Jewish music scene.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Link Dump

JWR has an article on Grammy Jews.

The Exchange has a writeup on Blue Fringe manager Jon Perl. Apparently, he's now manging Soulfarm as well. Look for those bands to appear together frequently.

The Jewish Week has a pair of articles, one on Hip Hop Hoodios and the other about Avraham and Mo Rosenblum.

Here's Lev Tahor's new Album cover. It nice to see well-designed artistic covers like this one as well as the one on their previous album. All too often, JM covers are poorly designed or just plain silly. Extra credit will be awarded to anyone who can distinguish between all of the various Dedi albums.

Here's a Forward article on Dana Mase, and here's another Forward article on this year's Chol Hamoed concert at the circus.

Here's a Jerusalem Post report on Lenny Solomon.
I can't define my fans. When I go to New York, the typical Schlock Rock fan is three to 13 years old, and their parents. When I go to Arizona, I'll play at the university. I've played in England to senior citizens.
Greg Sandow has a few interesting posts on "how to kill classical music" that are thought-provoking.

Jazz & Blues Music Reviews has an interesting commentary by Mark Kleinhaut on people burning copies of his music.

Here's the Neginah acapella ad MO Chossid railed about. Tres' interesting!

Velvel compares the Mizmor L'David intro to many of the "kapitlach" Tehillim to Hip-hop, "Lehavdil."

Jewsweek reviews the Fiddler On the Roof revival.

And finally... all together now…dub dub!

Remembering Ira Silber Z"L – In Conclusion

Over the past week, this site has had numerous hits from people who have searched the 'net for info on Ira Silber and have found the past week's posts here. We have been honored to host these memories and would like to thank David Bogner for the suggestion that we do so.

If we may add one final thought; in addition to touching many with his music, both through his performances at weddings and his many Ruach recordings, Ira also influenced the JM scene through his transcriptions of many of the tunes that have become "club-date" standards. For years, musicians aspired to get their hands on a copy of Ira Silber's book, and there is probably no better source for someone wanting to learn the "smorgasbord" repertoire. Ira leaves behind a great legacy of music, but even more importantly, he leaves behind a good name among those who knew him.

Yehai zichro baruch!

Apparently, someone has decided to mirror some of the Ira Silber remembrances at

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Remembering Ira Silber Z"L cont...

Lenny Solomon writes:
I did not have a lot of contact with Ira on a personal level. He played Keyboard and so we never really got to hang on the bandstand much. However the band Ruach, specifically, the album with V'olu Moshiyim and Shoshanas Yaakov was my introduction into the world of Jewish Music. Growing up in the 70's in Queens and playing accordion, I listened to that album hundreds of times.
When I played NCSY shabbatons with Zvi Pill and Kesher we strove to be "as good as" Ruach. I never really spoke to Ira at length but he was one of the people that myself and I imagine many other musicians of my generation aspired to. Finally, I remember going as a guest to many simchas where Ira, Shmoo, and Dov would be playing and I loved listening to the beauty of their harmonies. I am not sure anyone sung together as well as those three on a gig. It was the perfect combo. Ira's passing saddened me and I wish his family and friends only simchas from now on. May he be a Meilitz Yosher for all of us here in this world!
Lenny Solomon - Bet Shemesh

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Remembering Ira Silber Z"L cont...

Arkady writes:
GREAT site... Long overdue... A great contribution...
I want to publicly thank David Bogner for telling me about this site...
Hopefully, David turns out to be right, i.e. that the Mr. Incognito, who runs this site, won't edit anything out from my post....
This is what I wrote when trying to pass on the word about Ira's passing
Ira was VERY supportive to me in my early days in the Jewish music. He was willing to have fun with the music -- I think it was from Ira that I first heard Db chord instead of F major for when the Kala would walk in:)... And the harmonic and rhythmic fun didn't stop there:)...
Ira gave me extra freedom to experiment on the bandstand -- chorus, delay pedals, wireless mic, jumping around. Those Ruach gigs, with Shmoo, and Dov Levine etc. did have a LOT of Ruach!
Seeing audiences reactions, and my enthusiasm, one day Ira said -- why don't you lead the band, and so I did. Having Ira behind me was a great training, because he always pointed out, in a older brotherly fashion, what worked and what didn't. My nickname for Ira was -- Papa! He liked me calling him "papa"...
Well, in retrospect, with all his supportive WARMTH, and Teddy Bear ways, that nickname seems to fit even better now!!!
Ira will definitely be missed... but not forgotten!
Hey guys,
This was SOME funeral for Ira ... It was like attending Grammy's... minus glitz... It was who's who, and PACKED! ... I just wish it was for a happier reason...
It seems like another lifetime ago there was a streak of years where Neshoma, and Negina had their annual office parties... Ira's funeral brought those memories back...
At those office parties, it was so refreshing to see the musicians outside of tuxedos, with their wives etc... We had more than five minutes breaks to hang out... There were slide shows, videos... lot's of laughter, jokes, food..., gifts -- fun!!!!!!!!
Even though that this "Hasidic" music scene (boy, that word "Hasidic" always sounded so stupid, to me) was always competitive, I was among those who were invited to both Neshoma, and Negina office parties, and so were Ira, Shmoo,
Dov and quite a few others... It was nice to see all the music biz unpleasantries set aside for one night, where the emphasis was on good vibe that allowed our "other sides", our HUMANITY to peak through, even if it was only for a minute or two:)...
Yes, Ira's funeral brought those memories back... So many familiar faces, after all these years... I was just wondering -- is this how we all going to
be meeting from now on... at funerals?!
Yes, it's a new century, Internet, emails and all, but ... if we all are going to get together once in a while -- why does it have to be at FUNERAL?!?!
Whether it's sports, Hollywood, politics etc. it seems like each of those industries sets aside an occasion once a year where people just hang out, laugh, and then they go back to competing... fairly or unfairly:)...
Ira's funeral brought so many of us together on a sunny, cold, windy, Monday morning, at the threshold of Spring... It reminded all of us of our mortality, sins, imperfections, fragility... and it re-emphasized, if nothing else, one thing -- the fact that we chose music as our path in life...
As the funeral service ended, there we were on that cold, windy, sunny corner in Borough Park... Nobody was rushing home, as musicians often do after another night in the music industry... There were hugs, handshakes, and the remarks like "hopefully under happier occasions... next time...". On that we all agree... Then, as that Brooklyn corner eventually cleared up,
and there were only a few musicians left... talking... one teary eye colleague mentioned a very sentimental, but very accurate "keyword" -- COMMUNITY!!! That word COMMUNITY definitely caught my ear! Yes, this "Hasidic scene" undeniably has that COMMUNITY factor to it... Sadly, funerals are more likely to remind us of that, and, on a much larger scale,
we all lived though 9/11...
Hopefully our busy lives won't flush away this COMMUNITY VIBE that we all saw at Ira's funeral...
Hopefully there won't be any more 9/11's to teach us that precious COMMUNITY LESSON:)
Hopefully we all are strong enough to avoid one of the biggest hazards in life, and particularly in our industry -- FOOD!!! Yes, those smorgs etc. can be fun, but.... :)
From the bottom of my heart, I want to wish yall, and your loved ones, if nothing else, HEALTH, LOVE and PEACE!!!
And, being partial to poetry, I'll sum this up with the lyrics to the song made famous by Al Jolson --
Life is not a highway strewn with flowers,
Still it holds a goodly share of bliss,
When the sun gives way to April showers,
Here is the point you should never miss.
Though April showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May.
So if it's raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn't raining rain, you know, (It's raining violets,)
And where you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a blue bird, And list'ning for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.
And where you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a blue bird, And list'ning for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.
web site:

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Remebering Ira Silber Z"L cont...

Shimmy Braun writes:
I must say, that was one hard funeral. Although show me an easy one.
Being a keyboard player in our business doesn't give me the opportunity to really get to "know" other keyboard players, as we don't see each other on the same bandstand. But back in the old days of two bands at "Bais Ruchel", "Armory jobs" or "BJC" was really the only time I got to see other kbd guys at work. In those days I did get to see Ira on the bandstand while we took a break while they were playing, and his eyebrow going up, when he heard a funky harmony, or a chord from the guitarist that was a "little outside" was all he ever did to show disagreement about something. He was open minded to what ever was being played on the job as a learning experience. There were actually a bunch of jobs in those days that we got to play together while he was on drums. I was not as seasoned a player in those years and really spent some time "finding myself" (musically speaking) while playing a wedding. I was especially conscious of this while playing with Ira because here was a keyboard player finally on the same job with me. I remember him rolling with every rhythm pinch I sent out, as well as a grin when he heard an interesting chord. After all he sold me my first "gig" keyboard. The ole Yamaha YC-20, made popular by Suki Berry in the 70's.
With so much of the stupid musical politics that would go around the bandstand, I don't believe I ever heard any of it involve Ira. He played the chair of "rhythm section support" well to keep fellow musicians and vocalists alike, comfortable.
We have to do more than reminisce. We have to implement the character traits, spoken by the "levaya" and from stories that people talk about, into our daily lives where applicable.
A "fixture" of the Negina organization may be gone, but let it not be forgotten.
Shloimy Ash writes:
For me working with Ira was more than a wee bit stressful. Between the fact he was a drummer as well as the fact he was used to Shmoo K, being a drummer on a bandstand with him was sometimes more than demanding.
But he never got angry, frustrated yes.
Angry as in losing it never
And while every time I rushed or dragged got me a look, every time my fills landed straight on, or my triplets worked, he turned to me with a nod or a smile.
Talk about making me feel like a "made man."
I also remember how he drove up with Rona & the kids on a Sunday and spent the afternoon sitting in our wading pool surrounded by his then very young kids.
It was sefira so he was off, didn't have to rush off to a gig.
He just sat in the wading pool "shepping" being around his kids.
Simple stuff like that is what made him happiest, he wasn't into the "flash" he just enjoyed being comfortable playing with his kids and talking/playing music. Whenever we spoke (in retrospect not as often as we used to) I was always struck by how happy and complacent he was--with everything going on in his life--he was essentially a down to earth person in a business where most people were simply down on everyone.
I remember one gig with him, when his asthma kicked in, he had Arkady take over on keyboards and the two of us finished the gig while he relayed songs/sets via a number of kids (in between taking breaths on his nebulizer).
Afterwards he refused to take the full scale since he spent most of the gig literally on his back--he judged from the overall wedding (it was in Vishnitz Monsey and had only a 3 piece band) that the people couldn't afford to pay much and didn't feel right taking their money without having worked for it.
For a few years after we had a falling out we didn't speak professionally--but we stayed in touch personally--because that was his demeanor--after all, who said business and personal had to intermingle?
I tried getting him up to the Homowack every so often--but as much as he needed the rest, he'd only go with his kids and their schedules often conflicted.
My favorite Ira story was when Shmuel Wasserman took us all to Pumpkins on Nostrand and Church in Brooklyn, to hear his teacher Michael Carvin who was performing with Bross Townsend and one other jazz great who's name escapes me.
After one very sizzling set by this trio of jazz masters, Ira turned to us and said in all pseudo seriousness "yeah that was nice, but I'd like to hear how they play Ve'Omar in Aperion on a Sunday in June.
While the business he was an "instrumental" part of has gotten more cut throat (ok ok competitive) I'll always remember him as a gentle soul, solid keyboardist and more solid mench.
Tum Ta Tum Tum Tum

Monday, March 22, 2004

Remembering Ira Silber Z'L

Today I received the following email from David Bogner:
Dear Blogger in Dm:
I know your blog has become sort of a clearinghouse for rumors, irony, gripes, sarcasm, and criticism from a JM insider’s point of view. But it would be altogether appropriate for you to invite musicians to share their bandstand memories of working with Ira Silber (Z"L). In anticipation of that invitation, I'd like to offer the following:
My first introduction to Ira back in 1986 took place over the phone when he called me up in my YU dorm room to ask if I would like to audition for his band, Ruach. I explained that I didn't know a lot of the tunes, but I would be interested in an 'on-the-job-training' arrangement. After a quick audition up in the Ave 'M' offices of Ruach Orchestras (remember the sign with the white ‘ghost hands’ over the keyboard), Shmu (Klaver) and Ira decided to give me a few gigs.
A few gigs turned into a few seasons, and the rest (as they say) is history.
Ira was a very patient mentor, and was eager to answer my questions about tune calling, wedding customs, bandstand etiquette, section harmony, etc. He was never bothered when I didn’t know a tune, and he would often play softly along with me if I seemed tentative about a melody or harmony line. Under Ira’s tutelage I played in horn sections with the likes of Eddy Hajian, Shelly Gordan, Ron Horton, Spencer McLeash, Gene Keys, and Ray Musiker (to name only a few). If he had given me a paid subscription for a series of Julliard master classes, he couldn’t have devised a better education for a young, inexperienced club-date musician. He placed me in an internship that would be very difficult to duplicate today. In addition to making sure I new the music, he also took pains to make sure I knew the do’s and don’ts of being part of a professional ensemble. There were more than a few gigs at the Aperian Manor that were followed with gentle advice /constructive criticism sessions over shwarma at Steakiad Dizangoff.
Ira took me under his wing and gave me a no-questions-asked entrée into a world where few second chances are ever offered…and let me tell you, he gave me more than a few second chances.
There came a time when, thanks to the education and preparation Ira had given me, I began to get calls from other offices. I talked with him about it, and he was a true mentch about letting me freelance around.
Ultimately, my freelancing gave me a taste of the different bandstands. Some bands I grew to hate...and others I instantly loved. I ended up turning down work from the one’s I hated and actively sought a lasting relationship with the one’s I loved.
The end result was that I drifted away from Ira because Ruach didn’t engender either of these strong emotions. Ira’s bandstand had always been simply comfortable for me…no fireworks…just comfortable. It wasn’t until years later (when I was getting ready to leave Jewish Musica altogether and make aliyah) that I realized that comfortable is just another flavor of love.
A few years ago on Purim I ran into Ira over at Yitzy Braun’s house. We hadn’t seen each other in years, and spent a few minutes catching up on each other’s lives. Far from being bitter that I’d taken his gift of a club-date education and moved on to ‘greener pastures’, he seemed genuinely pleased at my relative success. I took that opportunity to thank him for bringing me into ‘the business’ and gave him a hug & kiss when I left. However, our parting was more of a ‘seeya later’ than a real ‘goodbye’ (aren't they always?).
While I’m happy that at least one important ‘thank you’ in my life wasn’t left unsaid…It doesn’t do much to fill the empty space left by his passing
Goodbye Ira. Thank you. You were a mentch.
I'm going to take up David's suggestion and invite anyone who wants to share their memories of Ira to send them in.

...And While We're On The Subject!

Welcome to 24/

Your Tax Dollars At Work!

It's Polka Time!

Via Dave Barry's Blog

Working Undercover

A friend sends in the following Purim spoof from the Torah Times ad circular which is distributed in Brooklyn. The text reads:
Now Available
Worried that you invited too many guests or ordered too many musicians for your simcha?
Well, fret no more! Introducing the "Simcha Camouflage Set"
Your "choshuva" guests will now look like the Rabbonim who enacted the takana.
Your extra musicians can now look like "schnorrers."(Don't you wish they charged like one?)
I've actually seen professional videographers work "undercover" at affairs for communities where VCR's (or wedding videos) have been banned.

Email Forward

I was recently forwarded an email titled Wedding Takana #2 that contained the plagiarized version of Jewish wedding customs taken from Blog in Dm that had been posted here. Of course, no attribution was included.

Album Art

Greg Sandow on "How to kill classical music."

JM designers take note!

Sunday, March 21, 2004

"Kosher Music" article

Here's an old Dei'ah Vedibur article from '99. It's interesting to note that the practice of getting a "hechsher" -- I'd actually call it a "haskama" -- on Jewish music recordings did not become the norm.

Virtual Cantor


Gig Story

Last Sunday, we're playing "Yachad" when a fellow runs over to say: "Finally, you're playing something by Reb Shlomo." This was funny because we'd been playing Carlebach tunes pretty much the entire night; the tunes we'd played right before "Yachad" were "Yisrael Bitach Bashem" and "L'shana Haba" (V'yiten Lecha) and the listening music we'd played immediately prior to that set had included "Esa Einai" and "L'ma'an Achai."

Ravel's Brain

Interesting Nature article.
Brain disease influenced Ravel's last compositions incuding his "Bolero" say researchers. Orchestral timbres came to dominate his late music at the expense of melodic complexity because the left half of his brain deteriorated, they suggest. Timbre is mainly the province of the brain's right hemisphere.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Choral Friday Night Davening

MOChassid posts about Neginah's new "Neginah Acapella Singers".
He's troubled by the part of their ad that says "Ask about our original creation - The Choral Carlebach Friday Night Davening Experience". He comments:
Leave it to the shiny shoe music world to ruin something as pure and holy as a Carlebach davening. (I'm sure if it weren't impermissible on Shabbos, they would add digital techno voice distorters). And calling it ORIGINAL? The only thing original is how they can take a davening of depth and beauty (that can rest on its own), and add all kinds of garbage to turn it into an "experience" and ruin it.
The trend of turning tefilah into entertainment is something I've written about before here where I wrote:
With regard to the 'Carlebach-style' davenings, I think that they can also be quite moving, but I've found that in many cases, the atmosphere in 'frum' shuls featuring these is one of entertainment rather than worship. In general, I find that they tend to work better when they are spontaneous rather than when they are scheduled.
Music should be used to enhance the 'tefilos' and not as a distraction from them.
I've written more about my thoughts on these types of davening here with a follow up here.

The trend of marketing "entertainment" for tefilah -- which also exists in a different form with regard to those who bring in big names from the cantorial world as guest Chazzanim -- is not positive.

BTW, MO Chassid points out that the website featured in the Neginah Acapella ad,, doesn't work. This is a common problem in the JM biz. People don't "get" the 'net and think that they can advertise a url without it working, because eventually the site will be up. It's a foolish approach, but it happens quite often. It goes along with the whole "useless website" philosophy, whereby an artist or band puts up a website that is either poorly laid out, hard to use, contains no useful info, or requires plug-ins that most users don't have installed on their computers.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Avromie Flam Interview

Cleveland Jewish Radio posts a transcript of an Avromie Flam interview.

There's a lot of misinformation here, including the misattribution of song credits, the incorrect identification of which vocalist has passed away, and the mangling of an arranger's name, but I'm not going to address those now.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:
I’ve spoken to a number of people who say, well, there’s so many albums coming out that I don’t even buy anything because I don’t know what to buy and spend my money on. And it’s really hard. You have to be an educated consumer. To find out what’s really becoming popular and what’s a proper production. Because in a real production there’s a lot of time and a lot of finances go into it.
So, an educated consumer is one who finds out what is really becoming popular and buys that??? Oy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Not Chareidis

Edah presents: "Can one Find Spirituality, Religious Meaning, and Ethics in Popular Culture?"
"Meet and speak with musician Peter Himmelman, 'one of rock's most wildly imaginative performers', according to USA Today. Peter is an observant Jew who just released his tenth album, 'Unstoppable Forces.' He also scores the music for the CBS hit series 'Judging Amy' and regularly performs to sold-out audiences in New York and elsewhere. Peter will speak about the relationship between his music and life as a rock artist and his Jewish spirituality, and how each nourishes the other. Wine, refreshments, and conversation with Peter will follow"
If anyone attends, a full report would be appreciated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

More Chaim Witz stuff


Piamenta Press

Here's a collection of press clippings on Piamenta's club performances.

Some excerpts:
Yosi worked the crowd of yeshiva students into in an immediate frenzy with his opening tune. The yeshiva students were getting rid of all the stress bottled up inside them. It's difficult work studying the torah and Jewish laws and customs and now it was time for them to let loose in a real rock club. The concert was only ten minutes old, yet a mosh pit had already erupted in front of the stage. The most pit was all fun and games until a yarmulke flew off a head onto the floor. When that happened, the mosh pit came to stop, so the yarmulke could be safely picked up and given a gentle kiss. But as soon as the guy who lost it put it back on his head, the moshing resumed. The guy got so excited that Yosi had to tell them to calm down. "I appreciate very much you enjoying the music. There is no problem with moving and dancing, just don't hurt anybody, don't hit anybody please." But, unfortunately, Yosi's request was ignored. The moshing continued all night as the guys terrified girlfriends looked on from the edge of the club. The only thing that could stop the moshing was a fallen yarmulke. There was even an occasional stage diver flying off the stage and into the crowd's waiting hands
Some memories from Yosi's Wetlands gigs:
CHRIS ZAHN: Yosi Piamenta: the Hasidic Hendrix, the Sephardic Santana, the Gefilte Garcia. We did a Rock For Shabbas benefit here. It was the first time I'd seen Yossi. It was Inasense, Yossi... I think Evan and Jaron actually played on that. Yosi came in. "Wait a second. What is this, the pot-smokin' rabbi, here? What the hell is going on?" He was great. He's just so much to deal with.
When you get him on the phone it is not a quick two-minute phone call. You are on the phone for 20 minutes. He's yelling at you. He's yelling, he's loud. We had a nice run with him. He'd fill up on all these off-nights. "You tell us, Yossi, what's a great night for you to play?" "Moooooooonday, April 14th is a great night!" "Okay, sounds good to us."
[He'd draw] guys. Jewish people. There'd be a big Hasidic Brooklyn contingent that came out. A lot of young guys. A lot of them under 21. In the Hasidic tradition, it's okay to drink if you're under 21. That's what we were told that night because there were a lot of older drinks buying for under 21. When we busted them and threw them out they were like "it's okay, it's okay". "No, it's not okay, you're under 21. Get outta here!"
RODNEY SPEED (maintenance, 1990-2001): I remember the Hasidic Jewish gentleman that became whacked out on acid. Whooooa, boy. That was so crazy.

Rockin' w/MO Chassid

MO Chassid responds to an email he received in response to his post about the inappropriateness of YU hosting a concert featuring several of the Jewish "bar bands" who have been bringing Yeshiva kids into the NYC club scene.

This part was a little off the subject, but amusing nonetheless.
The Boro Park JM scene is even worse because the musicians with the Armani suits and shiny black shoes truly believe that they are elevating the music by putting pasukim against them when in fact they are lowering the pasukim by putting horrible tunes to them.
I was cc'd on the email he is responding to in this post and I've responded as well.

Here's my response:

Thanks for writing. I don’t think that we are as far apart as you may think. I have no problem with Jewish rockers performing at clubs per-se. My issue is with the way SOME of these performers are targeting “frum” yeshiva kids to bring them into the clubs.

Now onto specifics.
You write:
Musicians don't often have a choice about where they get to play, especially if they get paid to do it (which is how they feed themselves and their families). Jewish rockers have even fewer choices, and in the world of rock music, BB Kings is a choice gig. They would be misguided not perform there, and one might argue irresponsible if they have financial obligations to family or charities for which they perform.
Essentially, I agree with this. The problem that I have isn’t that these musicians are performing at BB King's per-se, rather it’s the way in which they do so. Typically, they schedule these gigs for days when young yeshiva kids are looking for something to do (i.e. Purim, chanukah, Simchat Beit Hashoeva) and then they try very hard to get those kids to come to these bar gigs. It’s not as if they take a gig in a bar, publicize the gig to the world at large, or even to the secular or culturally Jewish communities who are comfortable in that environment. Rather, they target the “frum” kids whose communities (and parents too, I might add) do not approve of such behavior.

I’m not talking about a situation where a band gets a gig at a club, and some yeshiva kids (BTW, when I refer to yeshiva kids here, I’m talking mainly about the black-hat community) hear about the gig and decide to show up. Some of these bands are specifically trying to draw that demographic to their shows and their marketing is geared towards that end.

Check out the interview with Soulfarm’s Noah Solomon at this link.
“You know, the Ramaz and Frisch high school kids that come to your concerts - do you ever get concerned that they will scare off more mature audience?”
“It already happened - they've already scared off everybody. Some of my friends just told me "Dude I can't hang any more. I like your music but I can't deal with the crowd." We've just come to realization - that's what it is in New York right now. Out of the city it's not like that. But they're really keeping us going, these kids, coming to concerts, supporting us, buying CDs and all. And they will grow up and, soon enough we'll have a sophisticated audience that have been with us for quite a few years.”
The interviewer is from the YU community so he refers to Frisch and RAMAZ, but I’ve been to see Soulfarm at the now defunct Wetlands in NYC, where the audience was primarily 16-19 year old kids from Brooklyn. For the most part, these kids come from homes where going to bars is looked down upon, and are not street-smart enough to be aware of everything that’s going on around them.

You also write:
2. In case you hadn't noticed, most young Jews don't hang in the Bais most Saturday nights. They're out at the clubs. If we can bring any yiddishkeyt into that atmosphere, we do something to stem the tide of assimilation and light a spark of identity (or maybe keep it lit) in those who attend the shows. Many of those attending these shows aren't even shul-goers or observant- they're more casually, culuturally affiliated Jews who are either seeking something more or a connection their shul doesn't provide, something that straddles their modern sensibility, passion for their identity and that ultimate of chassidic touchstones, music. You of all people should realize how effective this sort of kiruv is.
I fully agree and have written as much. For example, here where I wrote “I've posted several times about Blue Fringe and my disapproval of the fact that they are being marketed to the "Yeshivish/Chassidish" community. I have nothing against the band, they do their thing well, and I think they would be a great band to book on college campuses and the like to increase Jewish awareness and pride. I just have problems with the aspect of their marketing that has been targeting the "heimish" community.”

Finally, you write:
Those who argue that Jewish rock bands performing at rock clubs take Jews away from the fold are imitating ostriches and are not cognizant of the realities of today’s youth culture, which does impact our youth. THEY ARE GOING TO GO OUT ANYWAYS. We should take appropriate action and support the bands and promoters who go out and provide cultural context in clubs with contemporary Jewish music, no matter how derivitive or secular, with our thanks and checkbooks open.
Again, with the exception of those groups I’ve listed that are deliberately having what I consider to be a negative influence on ‘frum’ kids, I absolutely do believe in supporting bands and performers who are doing just that.

Here's part of an earlier correspondence I had with the same writer that summarizes my position on the issue.
I personally believe that it is important for all segments of the greater Jewish community to express their Jewishness through music -- even when it contains messages or themes that I disagree with. I think the presentation of ‘real’ Jewish music is an important end in and of itself; although the Kiruv aspect is a nice bonus. I simply think that artists and promoters ought to respect the values of the communities they’re marketing themselves to.

Monday, March 15, 2004


I can't believe I missed Pi Day.

Via The Village Idiots

Wanna Be A Conductor?

Create A Band Online

Robot Trumpeter

Yahoo! News reports that Toyota has developed a trumpet-playing robot. I'd assume that the humanoid's biggest influence is electric Miles Davis, no?

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Haftarah Music

An Unsealed Room asks:
Are We A Cool People Or What? Best Reggae Album Winner is A Nice Jewish Boy
Sean Paul, two Grammy nominations — best new artist and best reggae album. Talk about an exotic background! His full name is Sean Paul Henriques. His father’s family is Sephardim of Portuguese origin who came to Jamaica in the mid-1600s. The Henriques have always been one of the most prominent Jewish families on the island.
Sean attended, among other schools, Jamaica’s Hillel Academy, a non-denominational school sponsored by the Jewish community. His mother is of Chinese Jamaican background. That’s about all that has come out about his Jewish background — except one of his big hits, ”Get Busy,” has been the subject of buzz on Jewish music sites because the rhythm of the tune (but not the words!) is very much like a Haftarah chant.
Also out this month on Tzadik is Greg Wall's Later Prophets which is based on the ta'amim of the Haftarah - specifically Yechezkel (Ezekiel).

Amazon has it here:

KISS Bath Toys

Chaim Witz has come a long way.... from public school teacher all the way to Celebriduck.

News Flash reports: "Bush Ads Attack Kerry; Uses Jewish Music As Background"
The complaints regarding the ads are not based on the content but on the background music that is being used throughout the video and radio spots.
"The bastards are playing the tune to 'Hava Nagila', a traditional Jewish song," stated a senior member of John Kerry's campaign who wished to remain anonymous, "I'm not sure why they are doing that. That is just mean. Yeah, the guy is partly Jewish, but so what? Why make fun of him? He did like the music though."
"In no way are we or were we trying to make fun of him for being partly Jewish," stated a senior White House spokesperson, "It's just showing you who John Kerry is. Is he embarrassed to admit he is Jewish? I don't understand why he complains about the music. We figured he would enjoy that tune. Besides, we think it might help him if people know he is Jewish. I mean, people don't mind electing a Jewish president at all. Look at all the Jewish Presidents we had in the past. Oh. We didn't have any? Oh Geez. Sorry Kerry. I hope that does not affect your campaign."

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Frum Dating Theory advises:
If you decide to give money to a musician or performer in a subway station, and you find that you only have a 5 dollar bill on you, do NOT put the five in the collection box and remove four singles. Explaining to the drugged up musician that you actually first put in a five before you removed the four singles will do no good. This is especially true with rappers. If you put in a five, you leave it there!
Speaking of subway performers... I'll never forget the performer I saw in the subway late one night shortly after Princess Diana's death. He was playing guitar and singing the updated version of "Candle In The Wind" that Elton John had performed at her funeral. He had a very sweet sound and many of the people waiting had tears in their eyes, and were reaching into their pockets with the obvious intent of tipping him when he ended the song... at which point he proceeded to segue straight into "Springtime for Hitler" from "The Producers." I watched as they all took their hands out of their pockets and turned away. "They never like "Springtime for Hitler" he confided.

Chesed Groggers

What a great idea!
Another tradition of the Purim service is for the worshippers to drown out Haman's name whenever it is said aloud. Noisemakers called 'greggors' are sold for that purpose, but members of Congregation Beth Am instead bring boxes of pasta, rice and other dry goods to shake and create a din. At the end of the ceremony, the food is turned over to the congregation's food pantry.

On Mel Gibson's Passion

Here's something I hadn't seen mentioned in all of the coverage of that Mel Gibson movie.
Most notably, the Romanian Jewish actress Maia Morgenstern plays Mary, and the Rome-based Sephardi singer Evelina Meghnagi served as dialogue coach for the Aramaic used in the film. Meghnagi, who was born in Libya, recently described to the Rome Jewish monthly Shalom her growing uneasiness with the production. She said she felt so strongly about it that she refused to allow the use of some of her music in the soundtrack.
As I instructed the actors how to speak in Aramaic,' she said, 'I began to understand that not only would this be a blood-soaked and violent film, but also that I found myself facing a story in which Mel Gibson restored the responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ to us Jews.

And The Answer Is...

Thanks to Mr. Treppenwitz who emails the answer to our reader's question.

In the Jewish record business, going 'Gold' means that the artist has:

a) convinced the seforim stores to take all his tapes and CDs on consignment
b) given all of the tapes and CDs to his friends and family as gifts
c) some combination of a & b

The actual quantity of albums being discussed here is equal to the number of
tapes and CDs he can fit in the trunk of his car!

Thanks for clearing that up for us!

Fundraising Marathon

JM in the AM is having its annual fundraising marathon. While the idea of a commercial-free Jewish Music/Jewish interest program may be worth supporting (personally, I'm not convinced that it is -- at least not this iteration of it), I am definitely uncomfortable with the following part of this year's pitch.
With a successful 2004 campaign I hope we can realize one of our most ambitious goals yet - a 24 hour Jewish web stream, allowing continuous access to the great Jewish programming for which JM in the AM is famous. Our ability to realize this goal in 2004 depends largely on the outcome of our fundraising marathon from March 8th to March 19th.
Why is this something that the community should support? There is at least one webcast,, that already does this. There are others in the works that have similar goals as well and they are all commercial enterprises in which people have invested time, money, and energy. Why should the community subsidize a competing channel? With all of the worthy causes struggling for funds, should we really be subsidizing JM in the AM's R&D?

Reader Email

A reader who has been perusing old JM PR online wants to know:
What does it mean that the albums "went gold"?
Well, I'm stumped!

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

15 Minutes

Fox News reports about 'American Idol' reject William Hung's recording contract.

There's A New Blog In Town

MO Chassid has started a blog. He writes:
I have pretty strong views about what's ailing the MO world and I will try to temper my words. I also have strong views about the sorry state of most of the so-called jewish music world. No way I will be able to temper that.
He's also got a post about the upcoming YU concert.

Welcome to the 'hood!


One at a time, guys!

Friday, March 05, 2004

More on Pro-life/Anti-Abortion

L.A. Observed has a good summary of what happened. The email from "readers' representative" Jamie Gold is interesting. Apparently, the LAT prefers not hurting an unnamed copy editor's feelings over a reporter's credibility. Silly and shortsighted.

Chordially Yours

Lileks muses:
So there. Obligatory opening statements. I wish we could just have a chord that would stand in for one’s position. A nice augmented chord for those of us who have our beliefs but respect the loyal opposition, a bright shining major tonic for those who are unabashed partisans, and a minor-key fugue that strays into atonal chaos for those who hate the opposition and don’t care who knows it. You’d load the page, hear the chord, and know what you were in for.
And of course, a D minor chord for articles on Jewish music... which reminds me of the tuba player who asked for tips on playing klezmer and was advised "just play D and A."

Opera 'Pro-Life', Not 'Anti-Abortion'

This is too funny.
A Los Angeles Times music critic who wrote that a Richard Strauss opera was "pro-life" -- meaning a celebration of life -- was stunned to pick up the paper and find his review changed by a literal-minded copy editor to read "anti-abortion."
Via Andrew Sullivan

Thursday, March 04, 2004 Update

In which David Bogner's contribution to our list of Jewish wedding customs is posted without acknowledgement.

Someone else posted the link soon afterwards.

Older JM PR Watch

This old Country Yossi article was recently posted on the new version of
This past year-and-a-half had Shloime flying from state to state. He had just completed a second successful appearance for the Bais Yaakov Annual Chanukah Concert in Chicago with Dedi on Motzei Shabbos. Sunday morning he hopped on a plane to Baltimore for an NCSY concert. Dedi and Shloime shared a plane, but not seating assignments. Dedi was seated in First Class, and Shloime took his seat in Coach. After a short interval, Shloime was approached by a flight attendant who asked him to join "his brother" in first class. Shloime was somewhat hesitant, but Dedi cleared up everything as soon as Shloime took the seat beside him. Dedi, noticing the seat next to him was empty, explained that their "father" could only afford one First Class ticket and had given it to Dedi, the robust and well-fed of the two "brothers," so that he would be more comfortable. Unfortunately this meant that he and his "brother," Shloime, would be separated for the duration of the flight. The flight attendant was visibly moved by his "brotherly" concern and reunited them in First Class, where both could share all of the niceties of First Class, since "Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel," as Jews we're all brothers.
Things that make you go hmm....

On Competition

I've been giving this a lot of thought to the subject of competition partially in light of recent events resulting in one of the larger bands losing their regular Purim gig to another band due to what I consider extremely unfair tactics on the part of the competing band. I think that although competition is fine and is good for the industry in general, we should always be mindful of issues of Hasagas G'vul (especially applicable to band promoters), Hakaras Hatov (on the part of both institutions and musicians) and Yashrus. This has no direct impact on me -- I wouldn't play the gig in either case, but the particular details, which I've known for a while, are disturbing. As Hillel said "Mai d'sanei lach l'chavrech lo ta'seh."

Legos for Engineers!

Jay-Z Construction Set.

And no, I didn't actually download 649MB....but the concept is interesting.

Yet More Wedding Customs

"EmanSouth" contributes the following:

It is required that a tone-deaf relative or good friend of the chasan or
kallah must sing off key under the chupah. Better yet is a group of friends
of the chassan who 'harmonize' under the chupah in ear-splitting fashion.

It is required that Rabbanim who know they are being called upon to say a
bracha under the chupah sit a minimum of 20 rows back, preferrably right in
the middle of the row so that they can make as big a scene and disturb as
many people as possible.

It is required that the kallahs friends bring their cameras and take scores
of flash pictures during the Chupah procession and the chupah itself,
thereby disrupting the lighting of professional photographer.

"Rotzeh B'ilum Shemo" adds:

There will always be at least one man demanding you to play a certain song because he's either related to the C/K, best friends of the C/K, etc....
Actually getting the band to play that specific song is an automatic entrance into Gan Eden.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

JM Radio Update

While listening to the radio this AM on the way home from davening, I heard a JM celebrity use the term "heart-rendering"... which caused me to literally explode with laughter.

More Weddin' Customs

In response to our earlier post on Jewish wedding customs, David Bogner contributes the following:

All male guests should wear hats with enormous brims, and the hats must be worn with the front flipped up. The hat should be pushed as far back on the head as possible. If the brim is not at least a 'tefach' and the hat is not pushed all the way back, he has not fulfilled the obligation. Despite the front of the hat being flipped up, this should not be confused with an 'up' hat.

At the most exciting point in each dance set, the photographer must stop the circle(s) and have everyone face his ladder for a posed picture.

If there are only three or four ways to get around the band, it is permissible for guests, waiters and photographers to cut through the bandstand. Places such as Marina may actually require a fire lane through the center of the band.

While being walked down the aisle to the chupah by his parents, the chassan must wear his most 'fershlumped' black raincoat over his kittel, and he must assume the posture and expression of a death row inmate being led to the electric chair.

At every affair, there must be at least on designated 'conductor'. This is usually a drunk friend of the chassan who stands in front of the band gesturing wildly for some frenzied volume / tempo that he feels the band is deliberately withholding. His role is distinct, and should not be confused with the obligatory group of starers (see next minhag).

Every Boro Park / Williamsburg affair must have at least three (but preferably a full minyan) men who will stand absolutely still, with mouth partly open, and stare with blank, glassy-eyed expressions at the band throughout the affair. Extra 'schar' is earned for drooling. Olam Habah is earned if one can keep from blinking.

Guests under the age of Bar Mitzvah are encouraged to ask the band,
photographer, and videographer how much their respective equipment costs. A truly 'frum' child will often follow up with an inquiry as to how much the musician/ photographer/ videographer actually paid for the equipment.

Anyone else???

In The Details

Back Row Of The 'Beis highlights an interview with composer John Debney about his work on that Mel Gibson movie.
[composer John Debney] went on to say, "I had all these computers and synthesizers in my studio and the hard drives would go down and the digital picture that lives on the computer with the music would just freeze on his [Satan's] face. Then the volume would go to ten and it would happen all the time.
"The first time it happened, it scared me," Debney said. "Once I got over the initial shock of that, I learned to work around it and learned to reboot the computers and so I would start talking to him.

Live Broadcast Tonight

Hmm... interesting!

Great Moments in Jewish Music

Wake me up...

Via Jewish World Review

Monday, March 01, 2004

The Bat Mitzvah Speech

Last weekend, the band played a Bat Mitzvah for a girl from an unaffiliated background. The child of a not yet religious couple, *Sarah* goes to public school and attends the local Chabad after-school program once a week. Most of the guests at the affair were not observant, so I was a little nervous when the rabbi stood up to speak. I've been present at too many speeches where the rabbi didn't realize his listener's background and gave a speech that was geared towards a different audience.

This young Chabad rabbi nailed it, though. He presented *Sarah* with an inscribed siddur, and spoke simply but eloquently on what a siddur means to a Jew. No complicated lomdus, no incomprehensible pilpul, (no messianic prosletizing). The speech was simply a statement of faith in the Jewish people and confidence that *Sarah* would continue to grow in her relationship with God and Torah. It was a tremendously powerful moment, and this rabbi helped to ensure a memorable and meaningful Bat Mitzvah through the combination of a heartfelt speech and a deeply meaningful gift that is sure to be treasured.

I love playing these types of events. The music is more traditional and the band gets to play lots of great songs we don't get to play that often in Brooklyn. We played a full affair without playing any music by Avraham Fried, Dedi, MBD, Shloime Dachs, Yisroel Williger, MBC, etc. No Chazak! No Kol Dodi! No Yehei! Our play list for the evening included older Israeli dances like Ma Navu and Tzadik Katamar (they'd hired a dance leader), a little Klez, a few Chassidic nigunim, and some Carlebach melodies. The people were extremely pleasant to work for too.

Guide to Jewish Wedding Minhagim

Over the years, I've discovered that there are many customs associated with the traditional Orthodox wedding that people are unaware of. Here's a listing of some of them.

Note: Local customs vary somewhat. Some of these minhagim may vary depending on the hall, caterer, photographer, or band at a given affair.

1) The men must sing off beat at the badekin and after the chupa. Some are machmir to sing off-key as well.
2) The men must start a minyan for Ma'ariv in the most inconvenient location and at the most inconvenient time. At Ateres Chaya, for example, the minhag is to daven Ma'ariv in front of the men's bathroom and the washing station.
3) The photographer must push the guests around.
4) The photographer must obstruct the guest's view of the chupa. B'dieved, if the photographer is otherwise occupied, the caterer may do this instead.
5) The couple must not enter the ballroom until at least one hour after the chupa, but an hour and a half delay is ideal.
6) The waiters must put ice in the urinals. This is definitely the minhag hamakom at Sephardic Temple in the Five Towns.

Your additions to this list are welcomed.