Thursday, June 25, 2009

From the mailbag...

Psachya writes:
One thing I've learned over the years as a bandleader is that, when it comes to band prep, everything is relative. Two examples:

On a recent gig, the prep said that the choson wanted a "long first dance set". The caterer wanted to give me 15 minutes. I negotiated him up to 25 minutes. In the more yeshivish weddings, 25 minutes is "just getting warmed up" - I hoped the choson (who is a friend of mine) wouldn't be annoyed at the short length of the set.

Sure enough, after the set, the choson came up to the bandstand. "The music is great," he said, "but try to keep the next dance set shorter. The dancing went on forever!"

Go know.

The following night (a yeshivish wedding), the prep included requests for (count 'em) 13 hora/disco-type tunes. Followed by the statement, "Please don't overdo the horas." (!!)

What can I say? Everything's relative.
Shloime Kaufman emails about his new release to raise funds for A T.I.M.E. (an organization helping couples with infertility issues.):
Shloime Kaufman's Avodos Tzedakah album is in all Judiaca stores or the CD is available for download on, and features Dovid Gabay, Baruch Levine, Abie Rotenberg, Michoel Pruzansky, A.K.A. Pella, Sholom Jacobs and contains songs composed by Yitzy Waldner and Baruch Levine. The CD is presented by and PROCEEDS WILL GO TO BENEFIT A T.I.M.E., which is the premier, internationally acclaimed organization that offers advocacy, education, guidance, research and support through our many programs to Jewish men, women, and couples struggling with reproductive health and infertility.
You can hear audio clips and buy the album here.

Steven I. Weiss emails:
Jewish Punk Rockers. I thought you might enjoy some of what's said in this week's newscast.
There's a lot more in the broadcast version, though we'll be posting some additional clips on the Web soon.
Zal Schreiber writes:
THAT said….I know the gist of what was said here was perhaps a bit sarcastic in tone (at least, at times), but I think the comment the Xmas Music is Avoda Zarra needs to be mitigated a bit.

My Rov knows music, world philosophy, real Kabbalistic zaachen, and about the waltz….and has his favorite Classical Music composers (Sibelius is his favorite, I believe) , and I asked him about music (I have some relationship with that being a Levi from both my parents, a”h, growing up with Chazzanis and Presley, and classical music, playing in wedding and, ahem, other bands..and then working for a/thee major secular music corporation in the world for 16 years…..)

So I asked my Rov about music, and he said, MAYBE Handel and his Messiah are not to be listened to, otherwise, I don’t think popular Xmas music is really something to be stoned for…for listening to, and is (real) Avoda Zarra. (Church hymns for JC MIGHT be a no-no….)

And he also said that Waltz music has roots in things we shouldn’t really speak about in public, BUT, because we really don’t know about those particulars and because it’s a way bygone issue, that we’ve embraced it in Jewish music (and shouldn’t worry). Otherwise, we would toss out Shlichey Tzibur on a regular basis.

PS. You should take Dovid Kerner’s music, seriously, folks, as he composes and records it l’Shaim Shamayim. He’s a man with a(n important) message, and he puts it to song.
In the dangerous world we live in, it’s his own way of letting other to know to take heed. For the sake of Klal Yisrael.
Greg Wall forwards a link to a J-Post writeup of Pioneers for a Cure.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


"The Modzits Fan"
Don't ever make the mistake of playing a Modzitzer melody when this peep is at the gig. We made that mistake recently, playing three such tunes. Sure enough, he was drawn to the bandstand, like a moth to a flame, wanting to talk Modzitzer nigunnim. Since we couldn't talk right then, he waited until the end of the affair, hung around while we packed up, and then held us up after we'd loaded our car, sharing his B.Z. Shenker impersonations (spot on), thoughts on various Modzitzer melodies, digressions into the attributes of various well-known cantors (alive and dead), and more. Oy!

"The Greedy Cheapskate"
A while back we met the "Renegotiator" (here and here.) This peep puts 'em to shame. Or should that be, this peep has no shame. The "Greedy Cheapskate" hires us for a morning Bat Mitzvah. Tells us it'll be for two to two and a half hours.

The Friday before the Sunday gig, he calls and says it probably won't go over, but if it does need to go fifteen minutes over, would that be OK. Figuring we might as well be nice, since we've charged him for the slot, and have three hours between gigs anyway, we tell him we'll do it at no additional charge. A nice gesture, we thought. This character, though, saw it as an opening to renegotiate. After all, if we're willing to play two hours and forty five minutes for that fee, why should he pay the same amount for only two and a half hours. No class! Naturally, this peep tries to short us forty dollars at the end of the gig too.

"Mr. I'll Never Hire You For My Wedding"
This fine fellow (it's always a guy) is a friend of someone at the wedding who can sing. Allegedly. He comes over all night long, demanding that we let his friend sing one more song. Note: He's not just asking to give his friend the mic during a dance set. He wants his friend to be given a showcase, singing a featured song, while all assembled watch and take in his awesomely incredible vocal talents. The friend wouldn't mind said showcase, but would never push for it this aggressively and rudely. Naturally, we refuse. After all, he's sung one song at the family's request. And, much as this peep wants this to happen, there is a wedding going on, we've got dance sets to play, etc, so we decline. Multiple times. Before, after, and during the dance sets. The kicker. At the end of the gig, "Mr. I'll Never Hire You For My Wedding" comes over and says: "I'll never hire you for my wedding." Given his personality, that's not exactly an unwanted outcome. Who says sechar mitzva behai alma leka?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From the mailbag...

Aryeh comments on the Rabbi Wolfson article:
It's very clear that Mr. Donn is not acquainted with music theory at all. When I read the article to one of my music teachers he had many questions on the work.

Fist of all if you have only seven notes, you'll will not get to far. there isn't a single song played with only 7 of the 12 notes the scale has. and even then most music take several range of Octaves.

The color of the Piano keys and it's name (KEYS) has nothing to do with music style at all. Music can not harm you unless it's too LOUD!!!

The Composer  behind the music can harm IF you know who he is and what he stands for. For example you would not want to go to a Chupa with Mendelssohn march, since he was a son of a meshumad and he said jewish music is lack of color.

Xmas Music ins't kosher, it's avodah Zarah.

And if you'r a Squarer Chosid G-d forbid if you sing a Breslever Nigun.

When Midzitz introduced the Walz in the Jewish music world, it was critized since it is a coed dance.

Carlbach was also critisized and his songs where banned, when he was know as a dropout from Yeshivishe derech...

With similar token, the Mishnayos Kahaty was banned in many circles becouse of his views on politics not because his writtings. The same with Shteizaltz.

The bottom line is there is nothin Kosher or non Kosher about music, but reather about message send by 1) the composer 2) the player (or singer) 3) and the lyrics.
Dovid Kerner writes:
While our families were off together spinning the kids around on the local carousel, Steve and I spent some time today recording World Series of Hate. You can listen to it here.
E. comments on the NY Post headline for the Shwekey in Jail performance:
they could have come up with something punnier like locking them up and throwing away the Shwe-key.

Psachya's Peeps

Psachya's having a peep-filled season too.

He writes:
Hey, just got my own bumper crop of June peeps. Here they are:

"The Siblings From Hell"

They come over to you with a predatory smile and say, "Hi, I'm the choson's brother," and proceed to make your life miserable. Occasionally, it's the other way 'round - when they've been making your life miserable for a half hour and you tell them to bug off, they say "Do you know who I AM? I'm the kallah's BROTHER!!" These people need to be ignored at all cost - as opposed to the siblings who are actually trying to help.

"The World Expert On Everything"

That's the teenager who was explaining to the drummer that his (the drummer's) technique stinks, he's not half as good as the drummer he saw last week, and "everybody" thinks the band is awful today. (Everyone else I spoke to thought the band rocked, but go know. And trust me, this particular drummer didn't deserve that.) And what is the source of his breathtaking musical expertise? As he explained to us, he a) really likes music, and b) goes to lots and lots of weddings.

"The Just One More Song Guy (Or Gal)"

This person will come over to you after you've been stowing your gear for at least three minutes and say, "Oh, c'mon! Just one more song!" (This is never the person who is actually responsible for paying your bill.) Don't EVER give in to him. Or her. EVER.

And that brings us to...(drumroll...)

"The Most Important Person At The Wedding"

That would be the kallah, right? Wrong! It's also not the choson. Or their parents. Or the rabbi. Or the rich uncle from Chicago. Or the bandleader, the caterer, the photographer, or the limo driver. Nope, that would be the chazzan who strolled into the ballroom just as you were about to start the second dance set, and demanded to be given a mike IMMEDIATELY so that he could torture the guests for ten or fifteen minutes. Never mind that everyone else in the room wants to dance. Never mind what the choson and kallah want. Never mind if they even know who he is. He needs a mike NOW, because he is the most important person at the wedding! And don't you forget it! (And as with the last peep, never give in. Guard your microphones with your life.)

OK, that's all for now.
I remember one gig where the kallah started to cry when the chazzan sang because he was ruining her wedding. (She wanted light violin instrumental music during dinner.) Turned out he wasn't related to anyone. He was just a Chassidic W'berg local who wanted to have the thrill of singing for a crowd with a six piece backing band, something he could never have afforded to pay for. So he just strolled in to a local wedding hall, told the band the groom wanted him to sing because he's close, and voila!

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Abundance of Peeps

There seems to be a bumper crop of "peeps" this season. Here are some more.

"My Speech Must Start Now!"

This peep absolutely needs to start his/her speech THIS VERY SECOND! No need to cue the band, wait for them to end the song, or even ask permission to use their mic. Such formalities are for plebes. Not for someone with something this important to say.
Invariably, this peep is also a "can't be bothered to say thank you" peep at the end of the affair.

The "I Can't Believe I Have To Wear A Suit" Guy

This peep wears a suit that looks like its from the 1970's. A neat trick, considering that he was born in the late '80's. Always accessorizing his afro and aforementioned suit with a big satin kipah, this peep adds a touch of nostalgia with his inadvertent impersonation of "Saved By the Bell's" Screech.

"Italian Aria Guy"
This chazzan, classically trained in Russia approximately 70 years back, wants to sing Italian opera arias during dinner. Lots of them. He doesn't bring music and won't be denied the mic. "It's easy, you'll just follow me," he says, launching into one obscure aria after another. Guess he can't tell the difference between the Met and a shul social hall.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tal-Mood Music

C'mon NY Post! Surely you could come up with a better headline than Lockup Crooner's Tal-Mood Music.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/10/09 Link Dump

Rabbi Dovid Landesman writes about badly behaved bochurim at weddings in "Houston, We’ve Got A Problem!"

Meanwhile, the Times Herald-Record reports on pre-wedding violence in Satmar.

Sara Smith writes about the Haredization of weddings in "My Story: Aliza's Haredi Wedding"

In the Forward... "Why Straight People Go to Gay Synagogues." the end of the article talks about transgender Jewish hip-hop artist Harvey Katz.

Also in the Forward, a review of "The Songs of a Wandering People."

Modern Uberdox posts about "Niggunei Hisorerus Novhardok."

Michael Makovi posts on "Kol B'Ishah: A New Analysis."

Teruah posts about Sruly Meyer's move from Sameach to Mostly Music.

Mottel posts "Reactionary Jewish Music."

Here's an article by Rabbi Murray Singerman: "Dancing in the Footsteps of Reb Shlomo: An Halakhic Analysis of the 'Carlebach Minyan'."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

It's Peep Season Again!

"The Micro-Manager"

This peep, usually a school or kiruv org admin, needs to call the tunes at the gigs played at his venue. "No!" he'll shout, running over during a dance set. "The kids don't know this song!" Umm, they did the last four events we played at your place this year. And that's not including the multiple times it was played/sung at this past year's retreat. Or the events we played it at last year.

"Mr. I Need Your Card"

This peep comes over towards the beginning of the event and tells the bandleader "I'll need you card" in a way that makes it clear he has an imminent gig. Then they disappear before they can be handed a card. They will not come over again, and it will turn out to be impossible to find them among the 500 other guests at the affair.

"Need A Peep"

This Chassidic couple stands in close conversation on the other side of the room during a chupa. Then, with quick resolve, the husband, closely followed by his wife, walks past the open exit door and across the room, only to put his car keys down on the keyboard. His wife will immediately pick them up and head out to the parking lot. TMI.

"Everything Carlebach"

This peep needs to use a Carlebach melody for everything. He even sings Akdamus on Shavous using Carlebach's Od Yishoma (San Fransisco) instead of the traditional melody. Now that's just wrong!

Monday, June 08, 2009

From the mailbag...

Yonah Lloyd writes "Seeking Hiney Matov by Jewish Blues":
Hi fellow bluesers - I asked permission from Shmuel "Steve" Simenowitz to seek out his legendary "Hiney Matov" song online, as I would like a digital copy.  He said ok.  He doesn't have one himself, nor the tools to make one, so if I do find it, I'll send it to him as well.

Anyway, if any of you have it or are able to find it, please share the wealth this way!
Kathy writes in looking for Adi Ran's first disc, which does not seem to be available on line at the moment. Anyone know who has these in stock here?

E. forwards a link to a Ynet article on Gershon BVeroba's latest, "Is This Pop Hit Kosher?"

A Simple Jew forwards a link to "A Niggun From The Sudilkover Rebbe."

Finally, proof that klezmer is emotionally engaging, even to those who don't want to like it. Estevão Carlos Botelho Egas, who apparently just found out about Paul Pincus's passing writes:

Estevão Carlos Botelho Egas
Projetista da Engenharia e Projetos de Instalações Industriais
Mangels Indústria e Comércio Ltda.
Tel.: 55 11 4341-1688 Cel.: 9388-3540 Fax.: 55 11 4341-8975

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Guilty Plea In Melzer Case

The Jewish Week is reporting that Adam Melzer has plead guilty.
...according to Kenneth Ralph, assistant prosecutor in Bergen County, Melzer pled guilty to four counts of endangering the welfare of children. He will be evaluated as a sex offender before sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 28.

Depending on the outcome, Melzer could be sentenced to up to three years in prison or placed on supervised parole for life.
Earlier posts on this can be found here and here.