Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part II

Continuing the thread started here...

Here are some comments representative of sentiments I've heard expressed on the bandstand with regard to playing for private clients.

1) "No one is owed anything!"
2) "They owe me the job! I played their last affair(s) and they've always been happy!"
3) "So what if "X" played their last affair and they intend to use him again; as long as they haven't signed the contract, anything goes!"
4) "They should use me because I am a relative!"
5) "They have to use me because my relative was their shadchan."

Jordan comments on "Part I":
I agree that as a rule, nobody is owed anything. On the other hand, that does not mean that organizations shouldn't extend courtesies to those that support them. I booked my shul dinner for years. When another bandleader moved in, he lobbied aggressively to be used for the dinner, with the sentiment that he is as much a member of the shul as I am, and deserves the right to book the job. At the time, he had done very little for the shul, whereas I had served on the board, been a gabbai, and blew shofar on Rosh Hashanah. He wouldn't even daven on Yomim Noraim, as he took a paying job elsewhere, while we all davened, lained, and performed other Yomim Noraim tasks for free.

Based on service, he did not deserve the job as much as I did. But the shul wasn't hiring me based on service. They were hiring me as a courtesy to give business to a member. As such, he did have as much right to do the job as I did, even though, to this day, our level of involvement in the shul is not the same. It sticks in my craw a little, but I am not being treated unethically or unfairly. So we switch off each year.

The key thing is that if we don't use our connections and inside tracks to book jobs, we are not serving ourselves well. But if we place an overabundance of attention on our rights, whether real or imagined, we miss the big picture. We will not book any more jobs, really. We will turn off clients. And we will just give ourselves heartache, in a business that's supposed to be fun.

I did not always think this way, but we all have to grow up one day.

"You Owe Me A Job!" Valid or Not? Part I

Ever since I started this blog, I've been meaning to write a series of posts on Hakarat Hatov and how it does/doesn't/should/shouldn't affect musicians booking jobs both from organizations and from private clients. I think the posts never happened in large part because the topic is large and because there are many angles to explore. So, I'm going to break it down into smaller pieces over a series of posts. I'll be including some common statements I've heard bandleaders and sales reps make, some true vignettes, some hypothetical scenarios, and of course, your comments.

For your consideration, to start this series off, here are some comments representative of sentiments I've heard expressed on the bandstand with regard to playing for Jewish institutions and organizations.

1) "Nobody is owed a job! Ever!"
2) "They owe me the job! I've done it for years and they've always been happy!"
3) "They owe me the job! I've done so much to help their organization!"
4) They should use me bacause I (or a relative) am an alumnus!"
5) "Well, "X" did it last year, so this year is my turn!"

The floor is now open! Thoughts?

Monday, October 30, 2006

10/20/06 Link Dump

The headline speaks for itself: "You Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog, So To Speak, Judge Tells Union".

Lazer Beams writes "Jewgrass, or don't throw away your past."

Jake Marmer is Shanir Blumenkrantz blogging. Shanir was the bassist fo Danny Zamir's "Satlah" project and I first heard him with the "Lemon Juice Quartet."

Dear Amy:
My 11-year-old cousin is an amateur musician, but his "music" consists of pounding on piano keys as loudly as possible for hours at a time.

(He's not disabled or autistic, just an average kid.)

His piano playing becomes a problem when he and his family attend holiday gatherings at my parents' home.

For the entire time his family is at our house, he is pounding on our piano, even during Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

It's really obnoxious and takes away from what should be a nice family day.

His parents seem to think that his musical antics indicate that he has "talent," so they take no action to limit it, even when visiting other people's homes.

In fact, they often sit in the piano room and listen adoringly. They would view it as an insult if anyone asked him to stop playing, even for a short time.

We have tactfully suggested that he begin music lessons to improve his skills, but his parents think that it will "stifle his creativity" and cause him to "lose interest in his art."

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, my mom and I have gone back and forth as to the appropriate way to deal with this, but we are at a loss.

The Piano Police
Click the link for Amy's answer.

From the mailbag...

Ron Orenstein writes:
Back on August 20, 2006, you received an email regarding Tikva Records:

Alexander Feldman writes from Brazil:
I am a brazilian jewish, born by 1955 in Niteroi city (close to Rio de Janeiro city). When I was a teen-ager, my grandmother travelled to the USA, to see her long time no-seen brother. When she returned, brought a full bag of yiddish music LP vinyls. One of them was from Tikva Records: "Marty Levytt - Party Memories". I have it until today.

The remarkable fact is that there is NO street address, no PO Box, nothing that allow anyone to contact the label's office (there should be one, of course!). At that time, I payed no attention to this. But now, trying to find more Tikva recordings, I noticed the problem.

Did you find any new information about? If so, please let me know.

And here is my response:

Tikva Records released vinyl out of various office locations in New York from the early Fifties to the mid-Seventies, including 78s, 10" 33rpm and LPs. About 150 releases covered Cantorial, Yiddish, Israeli Folk/Folk Dance and others. All but 2 or 3 were of Jewish or Hebrew interest. Tikva went out of business sometime around 1976. See the webpage: Tikva Records-Jewish Music Mystery?

Ron Orenstein
Yitz writes:
Catching up on your blog I noticed this:
Shalom writes:
Quoting Krum as a Bagel, you wrote:

"Inevitably, the token Sefardi guy in the shul will be moved to sing "Ein Adir" in a ridiculously overdone nasal-y voice (etc.)"

You know what makes it even worse? Despite popular belief, "Ein Adir" isn't even of Sefardic origin to start with!

The composer of this piyut was Rabbi Yisroel Hapstein, better known as the Kozhnitzer Maggid. This doesn't sound like a Sefardi name to me...
A friend of mine e-mailed me about this during Chol HaMoed as well. We were both wondering how the only known tune these words, composed by one of the great Chassidic masters, seems to be Sephardic.
I speculated that the words came from Eastern Europe to Eretz Yisrael at some point of Chassidic aliya, and the Sefardim made a tune for it. But it still seems strange that there's no known Chassidic melody for it.

Do you have any ideas about this?
I don't have much information on this. I have noticed that the Sephardic version of the tune has a different melody for the "Mipi keil" chorus rather than the one sung in Ashkenazic communities. I suspect that the Ashkenaz version is a corruption of the Sephardic version, but I have no information about where either melody comes from.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

KlezKamp is coming!

The theme this year is "Hasidish Yiddish". KlezKamp runs from December 24th-29th, 2006. in Upstate NY. More info here.

As they did last year, they'll be recording a CD at this year's retreat. Here's the info:
"Ray Musiker: A Living Tradition" CD. At KlezKamp 2006, clarinet master Ray Musiker will record the next in our "A Living Tradition" CD series, featuring Musiker's original and classic material and backed by a stellar staff ensemble of Pete Sokolow (piano), Alex Kontorovich (alto sax), Ken Maltz (tenor sax), Jim Guttmann (bass), Aaron Alexander (drums), and Henry Sapoznik (guitar).
Ray is a treasure. I learned a lot from the few him on the few gigs we played together. I booked Ray for a klezmer gig a while back and he brought along music for some of his own tunes that had never been recorded. Fantastic stuff! It's nice to see that he's recording again.

Incidentally, last years German Goldenshteyn album is on the nominating ballot for three Grammy awards.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

From the mailbag...

Tani Palefsky forwards a link to his Zorn article, "Zorn's Big Night Out", for the YU Commentator.

Chaim Rubin forwards this link about music and memory sticks.

Avi Block contributes a non-musical peep:
I thought of a shul peep today (rosh chodesh marcheshvan [m'rahshewan])...I call him the machriz. He's the guy who you hear saying outloud "Ya'aleh V'yavoh" when you're still in the middle of the third brocho.

Monday, October 23, 2006

You No Sing! You No Eat!

Blog in Dm's holiday resort correspondent reports that the caterer at one hotel getaway this past Sukkot was dissatisfied with the work of the featured vocalist who was there on a barter deal with his family. So, at dinner on Shmini Atzeres, he walked over to the hapless singers table and informed him that his table wouldn't be served dinner that night. Shades of Seinfeld!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

From the mailbag...

Dov Levine ID's the vocalist at www.iiiiiiii.com:
I believe the woman is Hava Alberstein; she recorded the Hebrew version many years before Ephraim Buchwald rendered it into English. I also tend to think it was originally a Yiddish folk song, but I've never heard it in Yiddish.
Shalom writes:
Quoting Krum as a Bagel, you wrote:

"Inevitably, the token Sefardi guy in the shul will be moved to sing "Ein Adir" in a ridiculously overdone nasal-y voice (etc.)"

You know what makes it even worse? Despite popular belief, "Ein Adir" isn't even of Sefardic origin to start with!

The composer of this piyut was Rabbi Yisroel Hapstein, better known as the Kozhnitzer Maggid. This doesn't sound like a Sefardi name to me...

Gwyneth Paltrow and the Klezmer Musicians

Mark Rubin writes about his gig arranging/recording "What Is This Thing Called Love?" featuring Gwyneth Paltrow as Peggy Lee for the new movie "Infamous".

All three musicians on the session have strong klez/Jewish music performing credits.

They should release this one as a single. The B -side? Paltrow singing "Libes shmertsn".

Via Bas Mitzveh Girl.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

9/13/06 links

Go Shwekey!!! Hat tip, Emes Ve-Emunah.

Here's Krum as a Bagel:
Inevitably, the token Sefardi guy in the shul will be moved to sing "Ein Adir" in a ridiculously overdone nasal-y voice and appropriately Sefaradi havara while the audience all attempts to answer responsively in horrible imitations of the Sefaradi style, complete with ululations and loud falsetto screeching. It's pathetic and the passage of a year does not make it seem fresh by the time next Simchas Torah comes around.
Amen, brother!

Here's a Kol Koreh about Orthodox rapper Y-Love's mixtape w/DJ Handler.

Via Jewschool.

Rav Shmuel confesses to being an Elder of Zion. Funny, he never comes to the meetings.

Did you know that Yerachmiel Begun composed a new Moshiach song for the Meshichist event we blogged a while back. No props to Shwekey on that appearance.

Here's the poster again:

I think MBC fans should print these out, blow 'em up to poster size, and bring them to Miami Boys Choir concerts. Every artist loves fan posters!!!

A Simple Jew reviews two new releases: Nochi Krohn Band's debut and Lanzbom/Solomon's Chabad Sessions

ThanBook writes on "Davening: Drawn-Out or With Kavvanah".

For the Neshoma guys... Hey look! It's Marty Laskin. (2nd from the left.)

Finally, it's Numa Numa, Breslov style!

New Jewish Music Show Plug

Monday, October 16, 2006

CD Review - MoC's Baby

In the mail... "U'shmuel B'korei Sh'mo".

This is MoC's tribute to his dad, produced in memory of his father, Cantor Shmuel Ganz Z"L.

Here, MO Chassid posts a link to his article about the making of the CD. IMO, this type of article is the best kind of PR article and it works better than the bogus fluff churned out by the Brooklyn "JM" marketers like "Country Yossi" Magazine.

Here are reviews/comments by Seraphic Secret, A Simple Jew, DovBear, Orthomom, THE LIFE-OF-RUBIN BLOG, and Krum as a Bagel.

This is a nice concept. The CD is a good sampler of the type of music Mo C's shul, Aish Kodesh, has been featuring at their events. It's a good introduction to these artists for people unfamiliar with their work. All of the songs are appearing for the first time here, so it's a nice comp for fans of these artists as well.

The standout track on the album is definitely Yosef Karduner's "Ha'aleinu". Pure Karduner. The delayed lead guitar and vocals are a nice touch. Other excellent tracks include the Nochi Krohn Band's cover of Carlebach's "Melech Rachaman", and Aron Razel's "U'vamida". IMO, Shlomo Katz's vocals sound better here than on the excerpts I've heard of his own CD.

I liked Chaim David's melody for "Brach Dodi", but I'm not loving the arrangement. The faux-orchestral keyboard sounds in particular aren't working for me.

Aaron Razel's 'Yom Shabbason" sounds very familar. I can't place which melody I'm thinking of, but it definitely sounds like something specific I've heard before.

The lyrics on perhaps the two hookiest tracks aren't grabbing me. Avraham Rosenblum's performance of an upbeat "Im Eshkacheich" with mandolinist Andy Statman is energetic, but the words don't match the happiness of the tune. It seems an odd choice of lyric. Plus, Zevy Zions' accordion isn't featured. A shame. We need more accordion solos in contemporary Jewish music!!!

On the Nochi Krohn Band's song, "Tzeischem L'shalom", the many repetitions of various words, while groovy, seems to not connect to the meaning of the words. Contrast these repetitions with Eitan Katz's tune, "Kuma", where the repetition of the word "kuma" makes poetic sense. The track blends Tower of Power style lines with traditional shiny-shoe disco/rock, but sans huge horn section, ironically enough, given that both those sounds are typically horn-based. Naturally, these are the two tracks -- along with "The Ganz'e Tance" -- most likely to become popular on the simcha hit parade, I'd imagine. (Incidentally, I never use the term shiny-shoe music, as it doesn't grab me, but I'd be remiss in not using it here since MoC coined the term.)

There is some variation in recording/mix quality which is to be expected on this kind of compilation, but it occasionally jumps out. Ben Zion Solomon's track is most noticeable in this regard and is the definitely the odd man out on this recording being that it is neither an original composition , nor sonically in the same ballpark as the other tracks. It's nice for what it is, but it doesn't fit in with the others.

I'd have loved to see a track by Ari Boiangiu on this disc. I was given Ari's CD, "Rosh Ashmurot", recently, and his music is sympatico with much of what is on this CD. And, he's played at Aish Kodesh events.

Bottom line, this is a nice enjoyable CD of mostly acoustic J-folk rock. In short, Nakhes fun kinder!

Note: As an added bonus, when you buy this CD, it's yours. No "faux rental agreements" here!

From the mailbag... post "Sukkot (Sukkis) break" edition

Donny Azamrah writes:
I released a new Jewish music cd recently and was wondering if you could have a listen. You can hear samples at www.Azamrah.com. thanx!
The album features soft pop arrangements of Donny's orginal Jewish compositions.

Sruly forwards a link to "Pirating Songs of Praise".

E forwards a link to iiiiiiii.com, a website featuring a clip of a woman singing Nigun Mushka with the lyric "iiii". E also sends a link to some non-musical "peeps":

David B forwards a link to his blog;"Treppenwitz:Rock Star".

Dave Kerner writes:
Just imagine if Hank Williams was born a Chasidishe Yid! Might we then have ... Sukkalaya?


To the tune of Jambalaya, by Hank Williams

Goodbye Joe, we gotta go, shake the lulav
Its a gutta zach, to sit 'neath schach, and feel God's true love
Wind blows round, sun goes down, the full moon shines above
In the sukkah we stay, all night and day, and feel God's true love.

Gefilte fish, Rebbe's tish, rain on my sponge cake!
Crickets sing, we dine like kings, oh for goodness sake!
Hold on tight, for seven nights, and for seven days
Eat in a sukkah, don't forget the brucha, vitzivanu leishaiv!
Scott Rosenblum writes:
I wanted to let you know that the world premiere of A Journey of Spirit, the award-winning independent documentary on singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman, will air on two consecutive Sundays, October 15th and 22nd at 7 a.m. ET/PT (6 a.m. CT) on Hallmark Channel. A Journey of Spirit which won the best film award from the National Council for Jewish Women, and the Detroit Jewish Film Festival award for best new Jewish film 2005 Detroit Jewish Film Festival -- A Journey of Spirit , among others, chronicles the inspirational story of Ms. Friedman and how she has affected contemporary Jewish music.

...if you are interested in seeing the trailer, please feel free to visit YouTube - A Journey of Spirit

Friday, October 06, 2006

V'samachta B'chagecha!

Chag Sameach! In Israel, there's Religious Rock Galore.

In the spirit of the Chag, here's an article on the Breslov Joy Patrol!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

from the mailbag...

Marisa forwards a link to a Forward article on "Bronfman's New Holiday Services".

Ron Benvenisti contributes info about his one-man-band setup:
Korg PA800.com would be my choice only because I use the PA60 for a few years... you tend to get entrenched in whatever you started out with.

The prices for both Roland and Korg will be out of sight though... well over $3000 bucks for each

Roland adds the vocal harmony features like the Korg PA80 and PA1x... Roland 128 voice polyphony yields killer pianos and other sounds, and takes SRX expansion board for incredible strings

Korg adds 120 voices.... and multi-point samples

Again, I've heard people use Korg, Roland, Ketron, General Music and Yamaha and even Casio and sound awesome.

IMHO... if you are adept with some programming, you can do fine with a Korg PA50 - for under $1000 it can also use Triton sounds and styles from the more expensive PA1x (both of which I use in mine) I've heard guys make the YAMAHA PSR-1500 sound pretty good as well - also under $1000). My kids do wonders on a Yamaha PSR-550 which was under $500. I haven't seen anything that will sound exactly right for Simchas right out of the box at any price.

It's good to check out what people are playing and speak to them (during breaks) if you can. Most players are happy to share their thoughts with comrades.

A good PC software package like Kat2000 or EMC Styleworks eases up the programming tasks for the custom work for which you will definitely have to do for the Simcha scene (the canned stuff is pretty useless, except for maybe a starting point if you don't use a computer).

I use a Korg PA60 to which I added a 20GB Hard Drive to store my custom sound programs and styles. I use Kat2000 and EMC Styleworks for the custom work and also supplement the system with a laptop running Steinberg V-Stack which hosts a variety of VST plugins: NI B4II for Hammond, AAS Lounge-Lizard 3 for Fender and Wurly electric pianos, NI FM7 for DX-7s, Arturia MiniMoog, Bardstown Bosendorfer, Steinberg Groove Agent and Virtual Guitarist to fatten the guitars, drums and percussion, Garritan Personal Orchestra for Strings and Woodwinds and Hypersonic and JABB for horns through a Edirol PCR-M-80 keyboard controller and an Oxygen-8 keyboard controller so I can grab whatever additional arrangement sounds I need from the sections of these two added keyboards. It's a versatile, powerful setup - the main thing is it sounds awesome in real-time with every color available nearby. I set up the Korg so that I can also control it from the Edirol.

I like pedals and I use 2 sustain pedals and 2 expression pedals (1 each for each main keyboard). I use the expression pedals for mod-wheel and other effects which is great for strings, horn and synth articulations. I also have the Edirol sliders, knobs and buttons programmed to utilize various effects, filters etc., in real time. Spices things up really nicely.

I never use MIDI sequences and play everything live according to the way I programmed the styles and arrangements in real time. When people come over and say, "Oh it's a Casio and computer", I take my hands off and all you hear are drums.

I use a custom Quik-lok WS-550 stand with 2 tiers (I despise x-type stands - no room for pedals or your feet!)

I patch the stereo outs from the PA60 and the Echo computer interface into a Mackie DFX-12 connected to 2 Mackie SRM-450 biamped speakers.

There are people around who do programming, but I've found them to be a well guarded secret and/or outrageously expensive. I prefer to do my own and once you get the hang of your particular board and a good sequencer package on the PC, it's pretty much smooth sailing and you can do anything you need. I cover most of the new tunes with this procedure, especially the Bar Mitzvah type requests and get as close to the originals as possible in arrangements and beats pretty easily.

Important point: Smooth transitions ala DJ style is paramount these days. Moving from one song to the next or from a Freilach to a hora or vice versa needs a smooth transition through the change. Good fill transitions and adjusting the tempo change manually, adding the new instrumentation gradually also helps smooth it out with no seams.

Hope this helps, gotta finish the sukkah now.......
That's a lot of toys, Ron!

David Reuven writes:
Please assist:

The only keyboard chords I know are C G F Em Am Dm (substituted occasionally with A D ). I transpose C scale up and down.

I am seeking substitute chords for all of the above to add flavor to jewish music.

Could you possibly fill in this chart...even obscure chords to add tastefully from off the C scale would be very welcome...









Your assistance is very appreciated. Please provide address for payment, If required.

Kol tuv from Yerushalayim
Zal responds to Dan T.:
Hi Dan...no, you really heard what you thought you did...and IMHO, it was far out for so far back....

The Stanley Miller Band's 2nd album was "American Simcha". The tunes were of Jewish origin, but the words were English (half of the album was actually instrumental). We were looking to reach out to more Jews, those who wouldn't listen to the then yubba-dubba or carnival variety of Jewish music of the genre. So, I was asked to write English lyrics to some of the Jewish standards, but I was given free reign to encapsulate the ideas of the songs and not just translate them. It turned out that Stanley didn't feel comfortable enough to sing them, so I was chosen for the two vocal leads (Gesher-Essence, Uvaoo Haovdim-City of Gold),(By the way...my present group, Honorable Mentchen does both of these songs in our expanded lineup)... and the group together did the vocals for one of the songs (Erev Shel Shoshanim).

The album is not presently available in any format, though I am hoping to be able to be involved in its rerelease for CD when I can raid the valuts of Mickey's tape library and rerelease other music from there, many songs of top artists that went unheard even then, and perhaps revamp the 2nd Charvei Chesed album which was never released.

Mickey produced a number of artists, in and out of his home studio back in the70's & 80s, and he still has a few tapes that I'm sure the Jewish listening audience would be interested in. But let me keep you in suspence until we're ready to make a move with them....and I don't think it's going to happen so fast...sorry!

and back to Jewish Rock and the DYB....

Are they (were they) REALLY a Jewish rock band? I think not. Firstly, I would classify them mainly as a Hillbilly-folk, C&W band with (sometimes) Rock and Eastern overtones. As good as he is, Reb. Rosenblum's leads are Country-based. In Ain Anachnu Maspikim, their, perhaps, only venture apporoaching psychedelia, there IS fuzz guitar. Is there much anywhere else? There's some Israeli-fied Motown on rare occasion....some pensive balled-like material...and an overdose of Hillbily, especially in the
pickin'. At least that's the way I perceived them musically.Maybe some of the folks in the band were Rock influenced, but I never heard anyone refer to the live Stanley Miller Band as a Rock band, even though two members were well steeped in that area.

It's that time of year again... it's Bein Hazmanim...

...so it's time for our usual post against illegally downloading music.

Recently, we noticed a website (no link for obvious reasons) that had posted some recent JM CDs online for illegal download. We (and others) passed the information on to the affected artists/producers/distributors who took action and the files were taken down.

We mention this to illustrate the problem. With the advent of free file sharing websites etc., it has become very easy for people to post/download music with no out-of-pocket expense. It may be easy to do, but it's still wrong. The JM market is quite small. Illegal downloading hurts the artists and people in the production/distribution chain. Support creative Jewish music and buy the CD's.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

From the mailbag...

Jordan writes:
The Bilvavi Harmony guy got me thinking about a particularly odious well meaning peep: The harmony from the wrong tune guy. He sings the background part from the first half of the Rabbi's Sons Rabos for Lev Tahor, which mean not only is he transposing it from C to D, but in Rabos, it's on a Major scale as opposed to the minor required for the first strain of Lev Tahor. He will also sing the background part from The Rabbi's Sons Tov L'Hodos to the Carlebach L'cho Dodi, which is rhythmically similar.
Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz responds to Zal:
The answer to your question may have to do with whether or not the compositions in question have been released. One of the rights of the copyright holder is the first release right. If the song is unpublished (a legal term of art) the author can do pretty much what he wants and charge as much as he wants. But once its recorded, anyone can cover it as long as they pay the compusory licensing fee (a few pennies per CD). So if you want Yossi Brown, the great hitmeister to write a "lechu neranna" for you that will guarantee airplay on Jm in the AM, there may very well be a significant fee involved. However, if you want to cover a Shlomo tune or a Megama tune, just obtain the compulsory license and presto - you're in
Michael G. responds to Dan T.'s query:
The album was called american simcha and was released in 78. The a side was english renditions of erev shel shoshanim, (garden of love) kol haolam (essence) and uvau (city of gold). The b side were instrumentals. As far as i know it is no longer available, i digitzed it into mp3 years ago.
PT forwards a link to his post, Knob Covers. Bonus audio in the comments!

It's Time For A One-Man-Band Festival

So Roland has announced their terrifyingly ugly mega-keyboard new one-man-band keyboard.

On a related topic, a reader asks:
i'm a keyboard player with some of the wedding bands and would like hearing from any one-man-bands out there about their equipment. i'd like to know what kind of keyboard they're using. how they like it. if they did their own programming and if not where they get programs from. also any good tips or websites they can suggest to learn more about playing one-man-band. Also about good PA systems. thanks.
Any of our one-man-band readers want to answer this one?

Chol Hamoed Concert Update!

I've got my ticket...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

10/3/06 Link Dump

Not what you'd expect, Eric Clapton Rethinks Playing 'Cocaine'.

NY's Funniest Rabbi is Statman-blogging.
I was once at a Chanukah extravaganza at Nassau Coliseum, not sure why – but I was. And before the Miami Boys and other featured Las Vegas show tune styled acts came out Andy Statman did a couple of numbers. It was tragic – witnessing one of the world’s greatest living musicians being ignored. Matt Glaser is quoted in this new article as commenting that “Andy has an internal sense of doing whatever would guarantee that he would not be commercial.” That only makes me like him more.
Stephen Colbert reports on John Zorn's "Genius Grant" from the MacArthur Foundation.

Here's an interesting project: a Metal version of the story of Exodus. Passover music for headbangers.

A bit late, here's a Rosh Hashana Rap.

Here's a nice tambourine solo.

From the mailbag...

Hezy Levy writes:
My name is Hezy Levy and I'm a professional Tenorino (High, light Tenor) and guitarist. I sing classical songs while accompanying myself on a classical guitar.

I am very much interested in doing concerts in your area as well as finding manager or agent for this rare art of singing while playing classical songs.

Click here http://www.puremuzik.co.il/Video/classical/Las%20Mujeres%20Y%20Cuerdas-%20F.%20Sor-partial-low.wmv to see a video clip in which I'm singing and playing the 19th century guitar. You can also see and hear more about me in: www.puremuzik.co.il/hezy.htm

As an artist I'm continuing in the tradition of troubadours from the old times. My repertoire varies from Renaissance and Classical songs which were originally meant to be played on a guitar (or on other early music planked instruments) to the 20th century. My style is a fusion of cultures: Western (baroque, Renaissance and Classical) Eastern (Ladino and Yemenite) and modern Israeli (as a composer and performer).
If you can be of assistance, you can reach Hezi through his website, or send me the info and I'll be glad to pass it along.

Zal Schreiber writes:
Some Jewish artists have the interesting practice of putting Jewish words or ideas together with previously released secular tunes, those NOT written (specifically) for the Jewish audience. What spiritual usefulness this may serve is up to conjecture. However, the halachic considerations may be considerable.

Copying (a CD/cassette/LP of) an artist's material (for gelt) is unquestionably prohibited, according to secular and Jewish law (what if the product is no longer available for purchase elsewhere? Or in the same format? Or that version? These are some of the questions I have concerning these issues. I have a few more...)

I recently spoke with an artist who said he was going to have 3 songs from a prominent Jewish composer on his next album, and that the cost of each of his songs is $2500 apiece...I was surprised...that's pretty intense...(Hey folks, I have a few songs for sale...anybody out there interested??)

Now, in the secular music field, I believe, you can pick any songs you choose from any artist/composer you want and include your version of his/her composition on your album FOR FREE......BUT, any royalties received from sales (and maybe airplay) will go the writer(s)...That's what copyright laws dictate. But there are NO royalties or payment for airplay for Jewish music (I don't believe).

Now, back to the borrowing of secular songs, words and/or music...What happens is that artists pay composers for songs on Jewish albums..Now, are the secular composers paid as well? And since the Jewish albums do not get paid for airplay or sales...only the artist gets his album sold, no payment is going to the original writers...and yet,many of  these tune borrowers are the people complaining about their product's unauthorized copying (read NO GELT GAINED) sales? It doesn't sound quite fair...or legal, does it?

It's an interesting can or worms, is it not??
An anonymous keyboardist writes:
I discovered your blog while searching for the words to MBD's Yidden (which I never found... There are a few words which I have never figured out). I enjoyed it so much that I went back and read every archive. As a performing keyboard player for the last 17 years both with a band and solo, many of your observations hit home. I am sure that you would agree with me that after playing so often, the weddings begin to all run together so that by the next morning you have already forgotten last nights wedding. However, there are three that I will never forget.
1. Our band was booked for a November wedding in a midwestern city. That morning, a huge storm dumped 24 inches of snow in a few hours. The choson (an only child) had come in the day before but his parents were supposed to fly in that day. They missed the wedding. We heard at about 10:00 pm that they finally caught a flight and would arive after 12:00 am, so three guys from the band stayed (for free) with a few guests until 1:00 am to give the parents a chance to dance at their son's wedding.
2. I was playing solo for a choson who was not frum but had frum parents and the kala and her parents had been frum but were not anymore and hated frum people. The deal was that after benching, I would leave and a DJ would spin some tunes. However, the choson and kala were actually enjoying the simcha dancing and asked for a dance set after benching. After about 25 minutes, the kalla's father came over and demanded that I stop. I said OK and switched to Yerushalayim. He did not understand that this was an ending song and thought I was ignoring him. He grabbed my mic stand, swung it aroung and whacked me in the head. On the second swing I caught the mic stand and pulled it out of his hand. I managed to finish the song! I had a headache for a day and a bump for a week.
3. Remember the night the whole N.E. USA lost power? I had a wedding that night in a midwestern city. The hotel finally got the emergency generator running at about 6:00 pm, but that only powered one small light per room. I own a battery (Galaxy Far Outlet) that I use for Shmorg and Chupa. I cut down my system to my keyboard, one powered speaker, and a mic, and the battery gave me over 1.5 hours of dance music. It was extremeley hot as there were no windows in the ballroom and the tables were all lit by candels. However, no guests went home early and it was the most lebidig chasuna I had seen in a long time. Afterwards, I had to shlep my stuff down the steps (no elevators) one piece at a time with no air conditioning. I really felt bad for the Kalla however, as the room she had changed in before the power went out was on the 17th floor! She and the choson trudged all the way up and back down before they could leave. The hotel staff found them a room in a hotel with power about 45 minutes away.
Bert Stratton emails a link to a radio interview he did on INR.
Click to hear Yiddishe Cup on Israel National Radio, The Beat with Ben Bresky, Oct. 1, 2006


"Bert Stratton, clarinetist of the Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Band, performs live in the studio and discusses the band's new neo-Borscht Belt klezmer comedy album. An in-depth discussion on Israeli versus American-style klezmer and its significance to Jewish musicians. Plus, the fine line between cheesy, inspirational and just plain stupid." -- Ben Bresky
Dan T. writes
i have a son who just turned 13, and is heavily into the classic rock genre (no objections from me), and constantly blasts pink floyd, guns & roses, ac/dc, led zep, etc.

years ago, probably late 70's, i had an album (vinyl) which i'm pretty sure was a stanley miller band album, which had some traditional hebrew/israeli songs re-done to what i remember thinking was amazing rock music. i think the words were actually in english, and i think 2 of the songs covered were: kol haolam kulo & uvau ha'ovdim. i don't remember the name of the album. the 2nd side was instrumental, and i think i remember a version of erev shel shoshanim.

am i hallucinating? things are fuzzy from those days, but i seem to recall putting on headphones and playing it as loud as possible quite often, and i'm wondering if it's available anywhere, even on record or tape, cuz i'd love to get into it with my kid.

any info. will be appreciated!

The Peeps Keep Rolling In

Ron Benvenisti sends in the following:
"The Agent"

He lurks around you as you're setting up, while your schlepping hundreds of pounds worth of stuff, lifting 60 pound speakers onto stands, praying you and your equipment don't get fried from the outlet with the grounds painted over that's connected to the wall by the wallpaper. He's "supervising" and inspecting your whole setup commenting like, "Oh Sennheiser Wireless, Nice", "Mackies, good stuff", "Wow, you really use all those pedals?", etc. Once you start up, he's very attentive, overflowing smorg plate in hand with blue colored drink. Eventually he saunters over and smugly states he is an exclusive booking agent for Neginah as he waits for your supposed to be impressed face. You then recognize him as a roadie from a gig a long time ago and playing along you ask him for his card and phone number. Neither is forthcoming. "Don't call us, we'll call you." Next time I think I'll offer him 10 bucks to pack up my stuff... or maybe a green colored drink with a guitar cookie.
Psachya contributes some "Renegotiators.
I liked your "Renegotiator". Actually, as with Terminators, there are several versions of Renegotiators (or sequels, if you will).

To wit:

Renegotiator I is yours - the guy who wants you to donate part of your salary back to charity. (A variant is the guy who phones you from an organization expecting you to donate half your Sundays of the year for free, but that's a whole 'nother Peep.)

Renegotiator II - the guy who says that the band didn't start on time, so he wants a discount. When you point out that you own a lithium watch, and you started on time to the millisecond, he either a) calls you a liar, or b) changes tack 180 degrees, and says, "So who told you to start so early?"

Renegotiator III is like the last part of Reno II. "You saw there were no guests here," he might say. "How dare you start at the time the contract actually says you are supposed to start?! We want an extra half hour free!"

Renegotiator IV is the guy who just booked you yesterday, so there isn't actually a written contract. (Be worried...be very worried...)

Renegotiator V shows up at the interminable dinner/dances. "I know you were set up and ready to play for seven hours," he (or she) might say. "But there were six and a half hours of speeches, so we should only be paying you for a half hour of actual playing." (This tends to happen most often at the dinners where they actually force the band to stay on the bandstand through the speeches.)

Renegotiator VI is similar to the Ambassador from my last e-mail. "The bride and groom want you to play an extra two hours," she (or he) might say. (Most savvy bandleaders know enough to ignore this person, who is probably that most famous of Peeps, a Wedding Crasher.)

Renegotiator VII - this was only one guy, but he deserves his own category. (A friend told me this one.) The whole wedding, Dad was begging the bandleader to allow the groom's younger brother to sit in on drums. "He's very good," he said. So the bandleader graciously gave the kid the last 15 minutes on drums, & he played pretty decently. Afterwards, Dad demanded a discount because "your drummer sat out the last 15 minutes of the wedding." Incredible.

Then there is the Un-Negotiator. This guy booked you for a seven hour Bar Mitzvah. His guests (including the Bar Mitzvah boy himself) all left in disgust after four and a half hours. But Dad wants his money's worth, so he insists that you play music to accompany the workers stacking chairs & tables, the janitor mopping the floor, and the maitre-d' begging the guy to go home. And G-d help you if you stop one minute early!!
Along these lines, here's one from the archives. A number of years back, we got a call to lead a job for a band out on the island. The gig was an event aimed at unnafilliated teens. The organization running the event had never run any programming for teens. They were actually a singles organization and that featured prominiently in their name, which was something along the lines of "Commitee For To Make Marriages Between Religious Persian Singles".* (*not their real name.) In other words, barring a massive grassroots promotional campaign AND an act of God, there was no way any self-respecting teen would be caught dead at one of their events.

So, when we get to the venue, there's a nice spread, and exactly five people there; the two adults who were running the event and their three teen coordinators. After about an hour, two more teens show up. Throughout the event, one of the coordinators is on our case, refusing us breaks, and when we took one short break 1 & 1/2 hours in, starts yelling at us to get back to playing ASAP. It was a very unpleasant experience. We played the whole gig with almost no breaks. Whenever we stopped, he'd be on our heads yelling about how the kids won't stay if there's no music, etc.

At the end of the gig... you guessed it... he turns into a Renegotiator, trotting out many of the above listed excuses. As well, he threw out this line: "But you see the event was unsuccesful, we're losing money, so why should we have to pay you?" Gah!!!!

On the flip-side, we once had the ultimate "Un-Negotiator" who, after his engagement party ended and all the guests had gone, paid us an additional hour overtime (the party had already gone an hour OT) to play while he and his parents sat and relaxed.

Incidentally, if you're unfortunate enough to have booked a dinner with Renegotiator # 5, he/she is the kind of person who will tell people who are considering booking you that the band "barely played anything the entire night" or "there was no dancing" without adding that the reason is because there were six hours of speeches.

Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz, (The guitarist formerly of the Jewish Blues) writes:
The off tempo clapper and off key singer (and yes for some reason they sing loudly) also brought to mind the "where's the fire" guy who can't wait for the few extended beats or a rest at the end of a verse and immediatly jumps to the next verse dragging half the congregation with him and leaving the baal tefila and the other half of the oilam in the dust. I finally explained that the rests were as much a part of the niggun as the notes.
Lets not forget "Bilvavi Harmony Guy". This is the guy who ALWAYS has to harmonize melodies resting on the dominant with a iii major-V cadence. For instance, in Bilvavi, (assuming a key of Dm, naturally) , he'll harmonize the A melody in bars seven and eight with an F to E (the chordal movement is F to A). It's a nice harmony, but we think it's time for a moratorium on this particular harmonization in shul. Another similar example is the guy who sings the D to C# harmony halfway through the B section on Lev Tahor. Slightly different chord function, but the harmonic movement is the same.