Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Lo Talin - A Forgotten Mitzvah?

Here are two pesukim. The first is from Vayikra 19:13. In Parshas Kedoshim the Torah writes: "Lo tashok et re'acha v'lo tigzol, lo talin peulat sachir itcha ad boker." The second is from Devarim 24:15. In Parshas Ki Teizei, the Torah writes: "B'yomo titen scharo, v'lo savo alav hashemesh, ki ani hu v'eilav hu noseh es nafsho, v'lo yikro alecha el Ad-noi v'haya vicha cheit."

Halacha mandates that day laborers must be paid at the end of the workday and night workers must be paid at the end of their shift. It seems clear to me that freelance musicians playing one-off club dates fall into this category, yet it is common practice for offices to wait weeks, or in some cases a month or more, before sending out payment. I believe that this practice is anti-halachink. In the case of smaller bands, therefore, musicians should be paid at the conclusion of a gig. The band owner or bandleader should bring the musician's checks to the gig and pay them upon its conclusion

In the case of larger bands, where there are many musicians perfrming at numerous events at any given time, from an organizational standpoint, it's not practical to cut the checks in advance, as there are frequently last minute additions or substitutions of musicians. In these cases, I think that there is an implicit understanding between the musicians and the office that the payment will be somewhat delayed. Even in those cases though, the bands should cut the checks as soon as possible. I'd favor a weekly bookkeeping date, but think that a bi-weekly check mailing is the outer limit.

Over the years, I've freelanced for many bands/offices who delayed payment for over a month. I've been fortunate enough to never have been in a financial situation where I was living from gig paycheck to paycheck, but there are many musicians who need each gig's earnings ASAP just to make ends meet. I think that an increased sensitivity to this Mitzvah D'oraita is warranted among the JM community.

Man In The Long Black Coat

Bob Dylan gets Shlishi at Adath Israel in St Paul, MN, an Orthodox congregation with a strong Chabad tilt.

Attention Do-It-Yourselfers

Build your own Swedish Bagpipes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Cat Stevens Update

LGF has a report that Cat Stevens was the guest of honor in 1998 at a fundraising dinner in Toronto, hosted by a front group for Hamas, and that in his speech he described Judaism as a “so-called religion."

Something has broken, but I don't think it's "morning." More likely, it's Mr. Islam's moral compass.


JM in the AM listeners may be a little confused after yesterday's broadcast with Yerachmiel Begun. The huge Kiddush Hashem event at Nassau Colliseum isn't this, it was the past Siyum Hashas.

The KlezmerShack reviews the

Velvel posts a new Even Sh'siyah MP3. Vietur.

Eli Gerstner has updated his website. Sheet music for his songs can be found here.

Finally, here's Instapundit on how he used as a sort-of foreign-aid program for African musicians.
Via our effectively-nonprofit (well, it never turns one) record company, we had a sort of foreign-aid program for African musicians going for a while. We put their stuff on and let them earn the "payback for playback" royalties. Those weren't a lot of money for most Americans (a few people made a lot, but a few hundred dollars a month -- what my band, Mobius Dick, was earning -- was doing pretty well). But a few hundred dollars a month is a lot of money in places like Uganda and Nigeria. Sadly, that was another casualty of's collapse. If we can get micropayment-style systems working, I think that African musicians and artists would really benefit. There's a lot of talent there that's going underutilized for want of capital, in a whole range of fields.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Three Out Of Four Ain't Bad

Here's the UJA of North Jersey "Israel Carnival"website.

Symphonia Productions presents:
Featuring Kol Zimrah Acapella Singers
The Kletztraphobix
Magic & More............

Tuesday, October 5th, 2004
10AM - 5PM
at the JCC on the Palisades

100 % of all proceeds are helping
Israeli Families in Crisis

The Vengeful Philosopher

This thread picks up the discussion on the appropriateness of singing about revenge ala "Zochreini Na."

Shameless Plug Update


This Thriller Sounds Bad

Scholars Gather to Deconstruct Jacko.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Shofar, So Good

Here's Musical Perceptions:
I played a long note tonight, but certainly not as long as I had the capacity for. I still am uncertain whether to crescendo the note to a loud climax and cut it off, or to taper the sound. Doing the latter allows for a longer note, and is more musically satisfying to me. But the purpose of the shofar is not musical, it is theological. I tapered the sound this year, and cut the note off when the sound threatened to get too weak. But maybe a niente effect is appropriate, to suggest the sound never really ends. Any suggestions out there?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Shameless Plug

Jordan Hirsch writes:
I just want to let you know about another bit of shameless self
promotion. I am doing another show at Satalla this Sunday at 5 with Klezmerfest. That band includes Greg Wall, Jordan Hirsch, Zev Zions, Brian Glassman, and Aaron Alexander. You should check out the review we got from Ari Davidow on Klezmershack. Come down and check out the band!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Gal Paz Update

The NY Post has the shameful details.

It's a keyboard and... a keyboard!

It's Prodikeys.
Check out the video demos on the left side of the page. They're funny enough, but I really enjoyed the demos for the Asian market, especially the Asian drum demo. (Windows Media Player required.)

The Power of Kol Nidre

Here's an interesting J Post article about Kol Nidre. Here are the first 'graphs:
When Reb Leizer of Czenstochow walked out of the gates of Buchenwald, he set out to find his youngest son. In the last moments of deportation he had thrust the child into the arms of gentiles - perhaps he was still alive. In his old town, he was told to try the monasteries. Not surprisingly, none of them admitted to sheltering any Jewish children.
Reb Leizer bought an organ and added one melody to the stock of marketplace ditties: Kol Nidre. He moved about the countryside as an organ grinder, setting up his instrument in each village and watching as children ran to hear his music. Whenever he played Kol Nidre, he would observe their faces for any reaction. Sometimes, he saw signs of recognition, of sadness and longing. He would follow these children, take them aside and tell them: "The war is over. You can go back to your own people."
According to the story, Reb Leizer never did find his son, but he helped dozens of Jewish children regain their faith.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Tzadik On The Roof?

Menachem Wecker reviews the Masada String Trio's recent performance at the Bridge Shul.

One nitpick... the dubious song title is "Mahshav" not "Moshav."

Are They Related To Yidcore?

Meet the Makkabees -- dedicated to preserving Jewish tradition through unconventional means. They have a few audio clips on their site, and CD Baby has some more here.

Not your grandma's "Hava Nagila!"

Turn The Plane Around!

Cat Stevens, terrorist?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Baynonim Makes Emends

Baynonim has revised his post of 9/2/04 which criticized us for an error actually made by the J-Post in a review we'd quoted.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Facing The Wind

Rabbi Ephraim Luft's letter to the Yated last month, "Choosing the Music -- A Yiddishe Wedding", is now up at Deiah V'dibbur.

There doesn't appear to be anything new here. We addressed Luft's points just under a year ago when he wrote a series of rambling essays for Deiah V'dibbur then. See for instance, here, here, here, here, and here.

Organic Jewish Music

"When the Organist Is Episcopalian" in this week's Forward.

More News

The title says it all: "Phil Collins Apologizes For His Popularity."

News Flash!

Breaking news!!!

Gal Paz is rumored to be opening a branch on Lee Avenue.

Apparently, it's true... and an
issur has already been issued.

From the mailbag

Been offline for a few.... and the inbox is overflowing. I hope to find the time to respond to everyone soon.

Jordan Hirsch wrote:
I will be performing in two different shows at Satalla as part of the New York Jewish Music festival. 9/7, I will be a member of the horn section for Matt Temkin's Yiddishe Jam Band, and 9/14 The Kleztraphobix are doing the 10 PM show (following Naftule's Dream). It would be great for you to check it out. Check out the calendar at
I'm getting to this after the 7th, so the first show is moot, but the Naftule's Dream/Kleztraphobix show sounds like a lot of fun. I've seen both of these groups live in the past. Naftule's Dream doesn't get down here too often, so this is a good opportunity to catch this group. I’m also told that this gig will be the CD release party for the Kleztraphobix new album, "Another Bottle of Vodka.” Audio clips and album info at CD Baby here.

Jordan also writes in regard to "Singing of Revenge":
One of the interesting problems with the music you are discussing is that one need not be aware of the political connotations of the music right away. While the song Zochreini Na is about revenge, one could understand it as being about God's revenge on those who hate Jews, rather than an incitement for us to exact revenge. Such was my understanding when I was first asked to play the song, it was only later, when I learned the full story of its provenance that I realized the problematic implications involved. I have been able to avoid playing it since, as I do not get many requests for it, but I assume I will be confronted with this question sooner or later. I agree with you that the song is clearly inappropriate.
Michael Steinhart writes:
Dov Shurin, aside from having very little musical and radio talent, is not by any means a major political figure in Israel. So why give him more credit or attention that he deserves? Have any of his albums sold more than a few hundred copies? Is there any way to find out?
I agree that for the most part, Dov Shurin is a marginal figure in Jewish music. That being said, Country Yossi does give him a column and Nachum Segal invites him onto his show to promote his material and presents it as if it’s totally OK.

The specific issue here is with a song Shurin wrote that has become popular, especially with the right-wingers in Israel over the past few years. The song, “Zochreini Na”, uses the pesukim from Nach wherein Shismshon Hagibor asks Hashem to give him the strength to take revenge from the Pelishtim who’ve captured and blinded him. His tefilah was answered and he collapsed the temple he was being held captive in, killing himself and all those within. The words are “Zochreini na v’chazkeini na ach hapa’am hazeh HaElokim, V’inakmah b’shtei einai M’Pelishtim.”

Now, people are trying to export the song here. It’s been covered on a recent Shalheves Orchestra release, and now it’s been included on the Dedi & Yonatan album which Suki and Ding are promoting heavily. It was also one of the songs performed by the opening act at the MBD/Yeedle/Wald concert in Manchester this past June, and, the sheet music has been offered for free download on one website that’s offering a few free lead sheets to songs they think are, or will be, popular.

This is the point that I’m attempting to address. Shurin’s albums don’t sell, but these others have been. I think that it’s inappropriate to promote songs of this sort to the community and market it as mainstream Jewish music.

Dan Smith sends in his thoughts on a new CD he just bought. Here’s part of it:
I love his voice, but he does get a little shrill in the high register. The songs were poor. The arrangements standard. I got suckered again…The problem: nice(great voice). tunes, same old tunes with the same standard key changes. Don’t get me wrong, in the right place, its excellent, but here it was repetitive and uninspired. players-excellent. arrangements-lush and overly ostentatious, but have a place. kind of like having way too much sugar. I found more songs I wanted to listen to again on the other album I bought, the old Beatachon West Side Zemirot.
The sad thing is; this could be a review of almost all of the recent releases in the genre.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Won't You Stay With Us For Shabbos?

Here's Psycho Toddler:
Maybe I've been listening to 'Minyan Man' for too long, but imagine if the guy in that song said, "I'd like to help be the tenth guy at your Minyan, but I made a commitment to learn a Blatt instead."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Where Have All The Hyphens Gone?

Composer David Schiff on Jews in American music.

The Wall

Seth Rogovy writes about saxophonist Greg Wall and his recent "Later Prophets" release in this week' edition of The Forward.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Et Tu?

The OU enters the JM retail business. If they're going to carry stuff like this, than I think they should certainly carry Jewish music by non-Orthodox Jewish artists so long as the lyrics are not in conflict with Orthodox Judaism.

Singing of Revenge

The Jerusalem Post finally gets around to reviewing Dov Shurin's 2002 "Biblical Revenge" album:
Wake up Jew, wake up / it's time to fight them / ....sooner or later, gonna get these Jew-haters / take an axe and whack their heads in half," sings Dov Shurin on Down with Arafats.
Mainstream Orthodox Judaism clearly teaches that revenge is forbidden. In his interpretations of biblical commandments, the 17th-century Polish rabbi known as the Chafetz Chaim had harsh warnings against entertaining hateful feelings.
With this in mind, Shurin's concept album should be seen as a work that does nothing but incite genocide fueled by bigotry and bastardized zealotry.
Yet, like much post-Oslo Kahanism, Shurin's work is not only tolerated, but is alarmingly embraced by many elements in the modern orthodox mainstream.
Also, well-known musicians are apparently not ashamed to appear in the liner notes as guest musicians on this recording; I suppose that we should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they didn't see the album cover before they signed on.
It's actually timely in light of the recent "Dedi & Yonatan" release that includes a cover of "Zochreini Na."

Over a year ago, I wrote a post, "Radical Jewish Music (Not by John Zorn)" that I believe is worth highlighting again.
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.
Note: The left-wing site I referred to in my original post is down. I'd referred to it as a left-wing site based on the page or two that I'd read at the time which contained articles portraying leftist Israeli political views. It turns out to have been a Neo-Nazi site which has since shut down, although portions of the content appear to have been mirrored on other sites. Regardless, the essential point is still the same. Jews, especially religious ones, ought not sing about killing.

This report from today's Jerusalem Post illustrates the problem. Incidentally, according to the Shin Bet, this Jewish terrorist group was allegedly formed at the funeral for Sgt. Elazar Liebowitz of Kiryat Arba, who was killed in a terrorist shooting attack. His friends distributed a music CD in his memory to raise funds for victims of terror. On the CD, titled "Shirim She'Elazar Ahav" was Dov Shurin's "Zochreini Na."

(Thanks, E)

Update: 9/2/04
Link to J-Post article was broken. It's fixed now.