Thursday, September 09, 2004

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.