Thursday, May 19, 2005

Peeps from Da Hood - The NY Simcha Scene

Here are short sketches of some of the characters we've run across recently who populate the NYC simcha scene.

1) The Carlebach Purist
2) The rude Yeshiva Bachur
3) The drunk Yeshiva Bachur
4) The spaced-out bandleader
5) The pompous Rosh Yeshiva
6) The dance Nazi

1) The Carlebach Purist is the person who comes over to criticize the band for playing/singing a Carlebach tune differently than Shlomo did. They are especially notable for the smug self-righteousness they feel at being able to impart this criticism; nevermind the fact that the song has become well-known in a slightly variant form over the years.

Recently, a Carlebach purist approached the band we were freelancing with to take issue with the way the vocalist had sung "David Melech" The purist felt that the last two bars of the A section needed to be phrased "David melech yisrael chai v'kayam" and the singer had sung those bars as "chai, chai, chai vikayam." "Listen", he said singing it his way, "the words make much more sense this way." Whatever.

Incidentally, Itzik Aisenstadt, a long-time Carlebach associate, who regularly corrects performers at the Carlebach Shul claims to have corrected Shlomo as well. If Shlomo sang the songs differently at different times, than arbitrarily deciding on an "authoritative" version seems both pointless and silly. In any event, it is the nature of folk melodies to evolve over time.

2) The rude yeshivah bochur we most recently came across was of the type who yells at the bandleader mid-song for not immediately handing over the microphone to his friend who "sang on Baruch Aboud's album." A pleasant specimen.

3) The drunk yeshiva bocher is the one who grabs the mic on "Moshiach" to yell "Oy, the Lubavitcher Rebbe" in place of the "oy, yoy, yoy" echo on the B section of that tune. Much fun is then had by the rest of the bochurim present who are thereby granted permission to yell "kofer", "yechi", etc. Nota Bene: This did not occur on Purim.

4) The spaced-out bandleader is the one who forgets that the affair is booked 'till 11 and tacks an hour-long set of "American music" requests to the end of a one hour simcha music set, so that he can get all the song requests played by 10. Needless to say, after a two hour second dance set, there was no more dancing and the affair actually ended early. Not that we're complaining about a party ending a little early after a two hour dance set.

5) The pompous rosh yeshiva is the one who insists on being introduced to be mesader kiddushin as "one of the gedolei hador." Personally, we'd be embarrased to be introduced like that. We've run across similar characters in the past too, like the out-of-town Rosh Yeshivah we've run into a few times, who stands near the band in the back, even though it's pretty obvious that if he's made the trip into NY for the wedding he'll be receiving some kind of honor under the chuppa. This way, he gets to make the long stroll down the aisle when his name is called. We particularly like the way he adjusts his frock before doing "The Rosh Roll" TM down the aisle to the chupa.

6) The dance Nazi is the woman who has requests for line dances no one else in the room knows, and who wants them played at much faster than normal tempi. She has a huge repertoire of "hits" from the early to mid-nineties that she wants to dance to, and there's no way she's going to let the musical needs of the party prevent her from getting all of them.