Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reader Email on Vos Iz Neias Ban

"Name Witheld" writes:
You write:

"Note, Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky signed this one. Surprising, given his public statements after the Lipa ban. It seems to me that he has an obligation to clarify the process he followed here, and explain why only this site, but not competing sites were banned."


Do I understand the ban? No. Am I a fan of bans? No. But this smacks of chutzpa to write on the web that R' Shmuel owes me or you or anyone else a clarification of why he feels this way. R' Shmuel is a true godol, a man who has no self interest involved, who doesn't have an ounce of "gaavah" in him.

I know you will disagree, saying that a gadol is not above the law, and we can question etc, but at the very least it is unparalled chutzpa to talk about him in that manner.
My response: I understand the point you are trying to make. I disagree with your premise. Rav Shmuel publicly stated that the process used in the Lipa Schmeltzer ban was wrong. For him to do the exact same thing, without explaining why he thinks the situation is different, raises obvious questions. A leader has the obligation to resolve those issues. I’m not demanding that he do so. I’m simply pointing out that if he doesn’t, his ban won’t carry a whole lot of weight. And, it will result in a diminution of his authority. As someone who thinks the community needs to be able to respect rabbinic leadership, this saddens me.

This is exactly the same situation as the Lipa ban all over again. Banning VIN without also banning Yeshiva World News and other similar sites? It’s arbitrary, and raises many of the same questions the Lipa ban did. And everyone sees through it.

If a gadol is going to do/say something that on its surface looks wrong, and publicize it, then they have an obligation to be aware of how their actions will be perceived and explain them. Ravv Kamenetzky is well aware of how bans are perceived both inside and outside the community. He knows that his actions here raise troubling questions. He should address them.

Incidentally, I’m fairly certain, based on what I’m hearing, that this specific website was targeted for a ban by the “askanim” involved, because of an unrelated issue. When gedolim allow themselves to be manipulated into taking sides on something that isn’t their issue, as it were, that also results in a reduction of kavod haTorah.

Yesterday was a great day for another ban!

This time, it's the website Vos Iz Neias.

Hirhurim has details and a translation of the ban, which was published in yeterday's "Tzeitung".

Note, Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky signed this one. Surprising, given his public statements after the Lipa ban. It seems to me that he has an obligation to clarify the process he followed here, and explain why only this site, but not competing sites were banned.

The askonim's plan to eradicate respect for rabbinical authority progresses!

Monday, December 20, 2010

From the mailbag...

Shlomo (Sol) emails:
Hi- I arranged and played in a kumzitz with Reb Shmuel Brazil this past motzei shabbos, I thought your subscribers might enjoy...there are a few of his Regesh classics, and 2 new never-recorded songs.

Ki LaHashem Hamelucha

Ki Mitziyon - NEW SONG

Gam Ki Aylech

Modeh Ani

Shomer Yisrael - NEW SONG

Dovid Kerner writes:
In which other music video can you find President Obama, Gamal Nasser, Rodney King, Jack Webb and yours truly coming together to make a point about peace in the Middle East?

"Move to a Settlement."
"Agunah" writes:
In the video at 2:35, the person sitting to right next to Matisyahu is Simcha Levenberg - the producer/director of the Miracles video. All the way to the left is Rabbi Dov Yonah Korn, chabad shliach to NYU, and standing is Tuvia Helfen, another Lubavitcher. All four of them are BTs.

Matis is not the only one who is responsible for his image.

Just sayin'
I disagree. Ultimately, of the people you've listed, he's the only only one responsible, although the others may be giving him bad advice (depending on your perspective). Personally, I see him as someone who is struggling with his place in Judaism. Since he's in the public eye, it is possible to see certain aspects of this struggle. He has his ups and downs, observance wise. I wonder how many of his critics appreciate the "ups" --and there are some big ones - even as they criticize the "downs."

From the spam folder... "Dash Valiant" writes:
Ran across your site - glad you created it. Just me, or is this the first (only) post? Questions:

- Which is the "original", and which is the "cleaned-up" version? (I have run across at least four textual Chasof Zeroah variations, I think.)
- Do your sources also indicate a medieval German origin for the tune? (Seems to be a common source for the music we have, as well as some Lutheran High Church hymns).
- Just what is a self-described Chasid doing in this evil online assur-type environment anyway? 

Interested in your thoughts -
My response: Just found your email in my spam folder...

There are seven years worth of posts which you can access at Blog in Dm.

With regard to the origin of Maoz Tzur, you might find this video clip interesting.

Personally, I believe that everything can be used for good and/or bad. I’ve written extensively on the blog about why I do this. See here, "Taking Stock (not Viacom)", for instance.

Finally, Alex Karpman writes:
Please consider posting this Yiddish Parody of Kanye West's song Runaway -- KanYid feat Shlepa T - Gai Kocken Offen Yom.  Just posted the video yesterday and it is on the homepage of funnyordie with 6000 views in one day!

You can watch the parody here: Jewish/Yiddish Parody of Kanye West's Runaway - KanYid feat Shlepa-T

The song is available on iTunes here.  All proceeds to benefit the Jewish Home for the Aging.

For the original Kanye's song that is spoofed: YRunaway (SNL Performance) - Kanye West feat Pusha T

For lyrics and a glossary of Yiddish terms, go here.

We'd be remiss...

...if we didn't note this remarkable Jewish music video.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12/14/10 Link Dump

A must read! Terry Teachout's WSJ article about German violinist Adolf Busch, "the Man Who Said No to Hitler."

In Haaretz, "Fiddling While The Candles Burn." Here's a bit:
The moment everyone has been waiting for arrives when the rebbe takes his seat again and picks up the violin.

But any expectation of hearing pristine, moving sounds is quickly shattered. The Hasidim are indifferent to harmony or quality, which are of no consequence when the rebbe himself is playing a Hasidic melody.
Vuvuzela as anti-piracy solution.

Not Jewish music, but a nice fan vid for Jonathan Coulton's "Shop Vac".

More non-Jewish music. Here's a nice organ cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

In the Forward:"Metamorphoses: The Sources and Journeys of a Tune."

Worlds are colliding!

The last edition of Jeremiah Lockwood's Nigun Project is up at the Forward.

Life in Israel posted " Interesting Psak: Homosexual Singers" and "Listening to Female Singers."

Finally, Esther K. finally understands the 'Kol Isha' Prohibition.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mussar for Matisyahu

Over at, Marcy Rivka Nehorai posts"Matisyahu, Say It Ain’t So." Great comments thread too!

From the mailbag...

Yehudah Katz emails a link to his latest music video.

Steven writes:
I have been trying to locate sheet music of songs performed by Etti Ankri. Been surfing the web with no luck. Even emailed her and got no response. Any Ideas??
Anyone have any suggestions?

E. emails a link to "Why Can't We UnFriend?" by War.

Christina emails:
Hope you're doing well! I wanted to send you a quick e-mail to introduce you to The Yule Logs, the world's greatest Christmas and Hanukkah Rock 'n Roll band from Chico, CA. They recently released their sophomore album, Walked With A Reindeer on Nov. 9th and I wanted to see about getting them a feature on your site.

Check out their hit Jewish song, "Hanukkah Mambo" here:

The Yule Logs truly encompass all that holiday spirit stands for! Let me know what you think!
"The Hesh" writes:
Here's a link to a blog I just posted, related to the whole issue of the supposed Jewish music ban.

Of Laws, Lockstep, Bans, and Boneheadedness | The Hesh Inc. on music

Enjoy. Let me know if you have any commentary.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Happy Chanukah!

Sen. Orrin Hatch Adam Dickter: There are no good Hanukkah songs!

Matisyahu: Why aren't there more folksy Hanukkah songs! Plus his music video for his new Hanukkah song!

This was well done, I thought!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chanukah Remixes for Y'all!

Atrocious Yiddish transliteration aside, here's a Hanukah remix project from Tablet. And you thought Orrin Hatch's song was fun!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Confidential to the waiter...

... who spilled the entire box of donuts for desert on the floor while setting up the desert buffet before the party. We saw you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

In Review: Ten Recent Albums

Just in time for the Hanukah gift buying season…

1) Jay Rapoport - "With All Your Heart"

Pianist/vocalist Jay Rapoport calls his style of Jewish music “Ruach Rock!”
Blending rock/gospel style piano and keyboards with educational lyrics, Rapoport sings of the importance of asking questions, exercising your Judaism, Torah study vs. action, and more.

Rapoport teaches at the Religious School of Congregation Rodeph Shalom in NYC, for which he wrote several of these songs, to musically reinforce each year’s educational theme.

I’d describe this set as Hebrew school lessons recast as rock songs; where the venue is a classroom instead of a pub. If my Yeshiva teachers had turned their lessons into rock songs, I’d have paid more attention in class, I’m sure.

Jay’s website is here: here.

Amazon has the album here:

2) Richard Locker - "Masterpieces in Transcription"

Cellist Richard Locker's "Masterpieces in Transcription" is a wonderful set featuring Locker's classical cello playing a nice program of songs. Of special interest is his solo performance of three transcriptions of Yossele Rosenblatt recitatives, “N’kadesh”, “Mimkom’cho”, and “Mi Sheberach.”

On this disc, in addition to the aforementioned Rosenblatt recitatives: Cesar Frank’s “Sonata in A Major”, Tchaikovsky’s “Entra'acte Symphonique Pour M. Leopold Auer” from “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Pas D' Action” from “Swan Lake”, Mozart’s “Rondo in C” (K. 373), Paganini’s “Caprice Op.1, No. 13”, George Perelman’s “Hebraisch” and “Hebrew Chant and Dance”, and Torrie Zito’s “Ballade.”

Locker has a beautiful warm resonant tone and both the cello and piano (there are several pianists on this recording) is wonderful throughout. I particularly enjoyed the performance of the Perelman pieces, which were new to me. (“Hebrew Chant and Dance” is based on the Yiddish melody I know as “Sha Shtil.”)

Richard Locker's website is here.

Amazon has the album here:

3) Three CD's of solo accordion music by Zevy Zions - "Olive Blossoms", "Dizzy Accordion", and "William Tell"

Zevy Zions is a fantastic accordion player. Zions, who plays accordion with Klezmerfest, and was the accordionist on Andy Statman’s “Learn to Play Klezmer” video for Homespun Records, has studied accordion with legendary accordionist Charles Nunzio.

Recently, he recorded a series of albums featuring mainly traditional accordion repertoire, adaptations of Classical music, and some klezmer. These albums are all excellent, and I’m hard put to single one out. There are lots of classic accordion songs by Frosini, Nunzio, and Gart, particularly on the first two albums, and lots of arrangements of classical repertoire too, especially on the third, “William Tell.”

As far as klezmer/Jewish music content, each album includes a Klezmer suite and “Dizzy Accordion” has versions of “Sharon’s Bulgar” and “Firn Di Mekhotinim Aheim”. “Olive Blossoms” has an arrangement of “Keili, Keili.” The klezmer suites consist of a doina, zhok, and freylakhs or --on "William Tell"-- a forshpiel, tekisher, and freylakhs. On Olive Blossoms, the doina is followed by a Jacob Hoffman zhok and then a killing version of “Oy Tate S’iz Gut!” On “Dizzy Accordion”, the suite is a doina, “Nokh A Glezyzl Vayn”, and “Tante’s Bulgar.” On “William Tell”, a forshpiel is followed by “Araber Tants” and then “Kalla’s Freylakh.”

I’ve been a fan of Zions’ accordion work with Klezmerfest. (I reviewed their latest here.)These discs are a nice opportunity to hear him solo.

Incidentally, Zions is looking for opportunities to perform some of this repertoire, so if you have any, please let him know.

Zevy Zions's website is here.

Amazon has “Olive Blossoms” here:

Amazon has “Dizzy Accordion” here:

Amazon has "William Tell" here:

4) Shlock Rock - "A Shabbat in Liverpool"

Here’s a concept. Set texts of Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat Zemirot to Beatles melodies. On this recording, Shlock Rock bandleader Lenny Solomon does just that. The result is an album of familiar melodies and familiar texts.

Some of the adaptations are:
“Shalom Aleichem” to “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
“Lo Tevoshi” to “Penny Lane”.
“Yigdal” to “When I’m Sixty-Four”.
“Ein Kelokeinu” to “Let It Be”.
“Askinu Seudoso” to “Come Together”.

Sacrilegious? To the Beatles? To the texts? Why not check out the album and decide for yourself?

The Shlock Rock website is here.

Amazon has the album here:

5) Asher Hillel Burstein - "Am Kadosh"
Safam meets Billy Joel. Chazan Asher Burstein’s Am Kadosh features his his original music and Hebrew lyrics as well as settings of some liturgical texts. This outing also reminds of Jonathan Rimberg and Jeff Braverman’s Shoresh collaboration.

Much like Safam, Am Kadosh mines the intersection between American pop and traditional Jewish song modalities. Burstein’s voice is in great form here. “Tefilat HaTam” is a pretty waltz. “Shir HaShabbat” is a debka. “Mhayra” is a freylakhs. “HaGevul” is a funky tune with some jazzy brass. “Limdu” is a khosidl. Album closer “Gott Fun Avrohom” is a fifteen-minute through-composed piece.

Lyrical topics include simple faith, Shabbat, redemption, and more.

The album is available at the Am Kadosh website.

6) Yiddish Princess - "Yiddish Princess EP"

If Jon Bon Jovi and Kate Bush had a love child…

On their debut EP, Yiddish Princess features their hard-rocking settings of trad Yiddish songs. Fave tracks include “Ver Vet Blayben” “Oy Avram” and “Az Nisht Keyn Emune”, but the whole thing is great.

Vocalist Sarah Gordon (Yiddish diva Adrienne Cooper’s daughter), is supported by a powerhouse rock band, which includes Avi Fox-Rosen and Yoshie Fruchter on guitars, and Klez clarinet virtuoso Michael Winograd on synths! I wanna sub in this band!

Don’t miss this one!

The band's website is here.

Amazon has the EP here:

7) Eden - "The Knock At The Door"
Eden reinvents themselves for this outing, featuring a harder “alternative” sound. This EP includes five songs: “Yigdal”, “Lo Yisa Goy”, “The One Above”, “Lecha Dodi”, and “Kaddish”.

Eden is: David Ben-Yshay - Vocals, Bass Guitar, Moshe Axelrod – Guitar, Motti Shanet – Drums.

Eden's website is here.

Amazon has the EP here:

8) Julie Silver - "Reunion"

I’d seen Julie Silver’s name around for a while, but first became aware of her music through her beautiful “Sim Shalom” on the Ruach 5761 compilation.

“Reunion” is Silver’s first new release in ten years.

This album features 12 songs, including three settings of liturgical texts, “Dodi Li”, “R’fa-einu”, and “Halleluya (Psalm 150)”, and nine songs with original English lyrics. “Meditation” includes the “Yehiyu L’ratzon” and original English lyrics. The music is soft pop/rock.

On “Step By Step”, Silver sings about entering the “water of creation.”

“Barefoot Sisters” is a song about a meeting with St. Patrick on a mountain. It seems like an odd choice for a Jewish-themed album. One “40 days on the mountain” reference is the only tenuous Jewish connection I see to this song. In the song, Silver asks “What would St. Patrick do?”

“Guide My Steps” is a prayer asking for guidance. Silver duets nicely here with a male vocalist. (The digital album they sent me doesn’t include any liner notes or info about who this singer is.)

“Been To Canaan” features smooth jazz style saxophone. Sample lyric: “Because I’ve been to Canaan and I won’t rest until I go back again.

On “Where Am I”, Silver sings about how she feels about the Torah portion about vows, which tells how men can annul their wives/unmarried daughters vows.

Julie's website is here.

Amazon has the album here:

9) Peter and Ellen Allard - "Little Taste of Torah"

Peter and Ellen Allard write hooky singable songs for children. This album is a great example of their approach. There are songs for Chagim like Tu B’Shvat (“For Trees”), Rosh Hashana (“Shofar Blast”), Yom Kippur (“May You Be Sealed”). There are songs about Lashon Hara, Baby Moses, Torah, Kriyat Yam Suf (“Nachshon” and “Wall of Water”), Tzedaka, and more.

The vocals and music on this are excellent and the songs are both educational and a lot of fun. Well-performed Jewish kiddie rock that parents will enjoy too.

I like this one a lot.

The Allards' website is here.

Amazon has the album here:

10) Prodezra Beats - "Proud to Be" EP

The follow-up to his “Beats L’shem Shomayim” (which I reviewed here), “Proud To Be” sounds more produced. I liked the rougher “street” sound of BLS more. This is a deeply Jewish rap EP.

"Faith" is about emunah. “Faith in the face of a world of drama. The man with emunah, ain’t nobody calmer…”

“Let Me In”, a duet with Nachman, is about coming closer to God.

“Proud to Be” is my fave track on this one. Powerful lyrics and nice synth background. Check this: “cause I’m a Lubab, Litvish, Breslov, shtreiml-wearing Jew….”

“Soul of Moshiach is an instrumental arrangements of the Chabad nigun, best known as “We Want Moshiach Now”.

Amazon has it here:

Up next, reviews of Craig Taubman's latest, "How Good" and the forthcoming reissue of Marty Levitt's - "King of the Klezmers". (I'd promised a review of that one, but am holding off until the new distributorship puts the album back in print.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

11/9/10 Link Dump

The latest installment of Jeremiah Lockwood's Nigun Project, "Through the Castle at Night", is up at the Forward. This time, a Modzitzer Nigun.

Don Imus: Jewish Music Critic.

This was a great show. Adrienne Cooper's new recording, "Enchanted" is definitely worth checking out. Amazon has it here:

Here are some brief music reviews at Hadassah Magazine.

Rav Shmuel writes about "Jewish Music That Makes Me Laugh Uncomfortably."

Vos Iz Neias posts an "Exclusive Video Interview With Israeli Breslov Hit Singer Yosef Karduner."

iPhone? "There's An App For That!"

Over at "Fastest Guitar In the West."

Vodkazak re-release with overdubs as "Chassidic Breeze." With,Alicia Svigals, Jeff Warschauer, Marty Confurius, Sy Kushner, and Aaron Alexander.

Amazon has it here:

No comment! Uncle Moishy Vitamins, Cereal and Pizza!

Life in Israel tell MBD to stop bellyaching.

Finally, here's Y-Love with a nice Yechi Hamelech T-shirt.

From the mailbag...

Some reader comments on "One-Man-Band"...

Steven writes:
I appreciate the humor/sarcasm however for the most part they get the job done and save the customer lots of cash. I much prefer the 'real band' experience but most non musicians don't really care one way or another.
This is a common myth. Actually, for the going rate for a good one-man-band plus "Srully Reverb", you can have a good small live band at your affair.

"Jewish Musician" writes:

I regularly follow your blog, and generally enjoy it, but this is my first time commenting, as it just got me so enraged.

Below is your post. Underneath each point is my comments in bold.

I am a regular chassidic one man band in the NY wedding scene.

1) Two women emerge from around the mechitza and approach the "musician" with the following request. "Can you possibly turn down/off the speaker on the women's side. We understand that, for the men, its geshmak like this. By the ladies, its too loud."
The fun part was that the speaker on the women's side was already off. Gives an idea of the volume, though.

My comment - Perhaps the customer requested it "Super loud" - I don't know of any fellow musicians that enjoy playing loud, this is what the crowd wants to hear, this is what we have to do in order to get the gigs, if we don't, someone else will.

2) Carlebach's V'hayu Limshisa as a 4/4 rock song! Arranger technology can make even a one finger player sound way better than he deserves. That said, the musician still does need to be able to tell the difference between counting to three and counting to four.

My comment - You are correct, this is wrong.

3) Who said musicians need to present properly/dress up for simchas? Apparently, there's no need to shave, put on a jacket, tie, or even tuck in your shirt.

My comment - This is not Marina, its Ateres Shlomo, we are generally working for a crowd that doesn't care if we wear a tie. That being said, showing up Mentchlich is definitely the right thing to do.

4) Apparently, disco is the style of choice for "dinner" music. Who knew?

My comment - YES, out of North jersey and the Five Towns, alot of the crowd we work for prefer a slow type of disco during dinner.

5) All Am/C Major, all the time!

My comment - Not necessarily, maybe just the guy you saw. Many of the regulars in the scene are very talented musicians, despite never going to Julliard etc.

My overall comments: You can't paint an entire industry with one brush based on one musician. There are plenty of chassidim that are extremely talented musicians and true professionals. A little ahavas yisrool is in order.
Let's take a look at "Jewish Musician's" assertions.

1) I happen to know, based on past conversations with these baalei simcha, that they don't want music to be too loud at their events. The reality is that people are often busy/involved/distracted at their own affairs, and so they pay less attention to volume, as long as the guests seem to be dancing etc. There's a range between "comfortable" and "I need to stop participating in my own simcha to go over to the band." Obviously it varies from event to event.

3) When I play at Ateres Shlomo, I wear a suit and tie. This is not about whether or not someone wears a tie or not though. It's about a community where people wear their jackets to go to the grocery store, but can't be bothered to show respect to their clients/the guests at a lower budget affair. (Ateres Shlomo is a subsidized hall.) The fact that people have become used to it is a shame, not an argument for why to continue the practice. Wear a tie or not, but dressing respectfully is important.

4) I'm not talking about "lite" disco. I'm talking about busting out the full volume "Ease On Down The Road" "Ben Bag Bag" set right after a dance set. The guests have sat down, peaople are trying to socialize, and this guy is busting out That's The Way, Uh, Huh, Uh, Hu, I Like It "Zoche" at full volume!

5) The post was not meant to be a criticism of all one -man-bands. There are definitely some talented Chassidic musicians. That said, simcha-goers know that the situation I described is not an uncommon occurrence.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I had the privilege of guesting at a simcha recently in one-man-bandville. 'twas an informative experience.

A few high (low?) points.

1) Two women emerge from around the mechitza and approach the "musician" with the following request. "Can you possibly turn down/off the speaker on the women's side. We understand that, for the men, its geshmak like this. By the ladies, its too loud."
The fun part was that the speaker on the women's side was already off. Gives an idea of the volume, though.

2) Carlebach's V'hayu Limshisa as a 4/4 rock song! Arranger technology can make even a one finger player sound way better than he deserves. That said, the musician still does need to be able to tell the difference between counting to three and counting to four.

3) Who said musicians need to present properly/dress up for simchas? Apparently, there's no need to shave, put on a jacket, tie, or even tuck in your shirt.

4) Apparently, disco is the style of choice for "dinner" music. Who knew?

5) All Am/C Major, all the time!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Behind On Reviews

So, I've fallen woefully behind on reviews and the stack has been piling up...

I've just loaded the review CD's/zip files into iTunes, and am hoping to get to them in the near future.

Here's what's on tap.

1) Jay Rapoport - "With All Your Heart"
2) Richard Locker - "Masterpieces in Transcription"
3) Three CD's of solo accordion music by Zevy Zions - "Olive Blossoms", "Dizzy Accordion", and "William Tell"
4) Shlock Rock - "A Shabbat in Liverpool"
5) Asher Hillel Burstein - "Am Kadosh"
6) Yiddish Princess - "Yiddish Princess EP"
7) Eden - "The Knock At The Door"
8) Julie Silver - "Reunion"
9) Marty Levitt - "King of the Klezmers"
10) Peter and Ellen Allard - "Little Taste of Torah"
11) Prodezra Beats - "Proud to Be" EP

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak Makes Stuff Up (Ban content)

In the previous post, I linked to a widely publicized report that "R’ Elyashiv Refuses to Sign Israeli Ban On Chasidic Music ."

This past August, Life in Israel posted a video of Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak attempting to get Rav Shteinman to sign onto a ban against one such singer, without success. That video is also a sad example of how people attempt to manipulate these elderly rabbis.

Now Life in Israel reports that Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak has publicized the following ban against Jewish concert singers.

It bans concerts whether or not they are separate seating events.

The bullet points:
1) These concerts are prohibited both in Israel and in "chutz la'aretz."
2) The prohibition includes everyone, organizers, participants, men. women, children, and especially the singers who are "machtiei es harabim" (lit: induce the public to sin).
3) It is prohibited for newspapers etc. to accept ads/publicize these events.
4) Those singers who appear at these events may not be invited to sing at any event, including tefilot and "kosher" occasions i.e. at simchas.

The postscript says that one should not sing any of these artists songs even at kosher events, mitzvah celebrations, etc. (The ban explicitly states that this postscript was agreed to by all of the signers. Two of the alleged signers? Rav Eliashiv and Rav Shteinman.

Nice. Once again, a huge chillul Hashem on the part of those opposed to this music and these events.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

9/21/10 Link Dump

Teruah has some thoughts about Jeremiah Lockwod's Nigun Project.

"Ripped from the news... "Dude, You Have No Koran!"

One of the original Elders at the late Protocols blog muses "On Music, or When More is More ."

Odelia Berlin, daughter of legendary clarinetist Mousa Berlin plays and sings "Machnisei Rachamim."

Life in Israel posts "Ayn Yiush BaOlam."

“Vos vet zayn?”

Here's a lovely little ditty from Micahel Wex's latest, set to music by German bassist Heiko Lehmann and friends.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Which Dm Gets Mussar

Yaakov writes:
Your blog is excellent, although you need to do Teshuva for posting a version of “Who by Fire” that does not include Sonny Rollins!

"Who By Fire"

0:21 to 1:05 of this clip is essentially Yom Kippur Davening Al Regel Achas.
It was a deliberate choice. But, this is a great version too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Can't Get That Annoying Chassidic Disco Song Out OF Your Head?

Unhear it!

From the mailbag...

Allen forwards the following useful sign.

Dovid Kerner writes:
Steve and I recorded a blues version of "Dear Everybody" and posted it to Youtube here.

May we see Gilad ben Aviva back home speedily to enjoy a sweet new year!
Wolf Krakowski forwards a video clip -- "Lomir Trakhtn Nor Fun Haynt" ("Let's Just Think About Today")

Anon from London writes:
I’ve been following your blog for several years now, and I’ve always found it of interest – thanks! I appreciate the balanced commentary (and the lack of comments that might undermine it...) and the humorous bits are always entertaining. I’m from London, so I also enjoy reading about things happening in the US JM world that I wouldn’t know about otherwise.

I got this video in an email from Tunecore this morning – it’s a video response to some blog post that claimed that filesharing is the best thing ever to have happened to music, by someone called Mike Lombardo. I don’t know whether you’ll consider it suitable for posting or not, but I thought you might like it anyway.

Many thanks again for your blog.
Craig writes:
Thank you for writing a critique of "Torah is not Hefker". I found that book in shul today while I was davening shacharis and read it. (Apparently, the book was hefker.) I wanted to check out its claims tonight on the internet and found your critique. I agree that the arguments in the book are weak. Furthermore, halacha has to be exact. The author does not explain how one can recognize whether music is good for the soul or bad for the soul.

One argument that did strike me as interesting as a reason to avoid rock and roll music, David Merrill's experiment with mice. Do you know anything about this?
The experiment with mice and rock music is meaningless. It was not conducted by a scientist under controlled conditions. Even if it had been, there would need to be multiple repetitions of the experiment to account for potential biases. One small experiment is simply statistically irrelevant.

As well, the concept behind the experiment seems to indicate the researcher’s bias against rock and roll. In other words, this was not an objective, neutral experiment. There is no compelling scientific evidence to back up Merrill’s claim.

Aharon writes:
Hi, I read your blog occasionally, and wanted to ask you a question: I learning clarinet, and play mostly contemporary jewish music, from Carelbach to MBD to Lipa, a little old school klezmer, and chassic stuff (like Modzhitz, etc.) I guess most of what I play is the stuff you'd play at a yeshiva-type wedding. Anyway, what keys, if any, are most common in these kinds of music? Are there any specific keys I should be certain to know if I want to eventually play this music with others? Of course, I would eventually learn to play in any key, but where should I devote my efforts first? Am, Dm, Cm, Em? Thanks for any advice you can give me. Aharon.

P.S. I am aware that the clarinet is a transposing instrument. I'm wondering what concert keys I should sound in, I'll take care of the transposition.
That's an interesting question.

The quick answer is, it depends. What are you trying to play? What context? There are some standard keys that wedding bands use for specific songs, so if you're trying to get onto that circuit, it might be worth learning them in those keys. For example, they usually play Od Yishoma in Gm.

That said, there is no specific key that is the "right" key for Jewish music. It depends on the song, range of the singers (if any), and instrumentation used. I would highly recommend not focusing on one key for Jewish music, but rather learning to understand how keys/scales work, and developing the ability to play in all of them.

(Incidentally, I took the time to send this response to Aharon's question when it first came in, but he didn't have the courtesy to thank me. This is something that has been happening too often. It's almost always from people interested in a certain repertoire. If you're going to email someone and ask them to help you, at least show a little basic courtesy.

The Shwekey/Amnon Yitzchak Ban Contretemps Gets Even Weirder

No comment!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An Important Post...

... at Parsha Blog: "Manipulating the Gedolim: Did Rav Amnon Yitzchak do this to Rav Shteinman?" Excellent questions!

9/1/10 Link Dump

It's been a while...

I want this for my B-day!

A nice review over at the Forward's blog: "These Breslov Tunes Were Saved by Rock & Roll."

Here's a bizarre video. ‘Sinner’ Singer Given "malkas' 39 Lashes By Rabbis.

On the Jazz front, check out this trackby Danny Zamir and Evyatar Banai.

"Jewish Music’s Elite Sing For Rubashkin." No comment. On the same topic, here's "A Song for Sholom."

Hey Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone!

Check this out! Makom on Kobi Oz's Mizmorei Nevuchim. Resources for educators who want to use the material on his new album.

The Second Son compares Jewish and secular songs. Best catch. Lev Tahor's Im Lavan Garti similarity to Lionel Richie's Cinderella.

Patric Aleph writes "Wearing A Yarmulke Got Me Laid." Oy.

Hampton Stevens writes "How Matisyahu's Hasidic Reggae Music Made Me Cry."

Klezmer organ!!!

"Senior Citizen Choir takes on Hip-Hop!"

Abanibi = "Dance Fever"

Augean Stables: "Only Israel has no right to defend itself…"

What? "Rabbinate To Strip Authority of Rabbis Who Sing Under Chuppah."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Music Bans...

Here's a video, "Rav Amnon Yitzchak sits with Rav Shteinman" that demonstrates how "gedolim" are lied to. Shame on Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak. Simply put, he is lying.

Here's Rafi's 'nut' 'graph which sums up the scene:
Rav Shteinman doesn't seem to understand a lot of what Rav Amnon Yitzchak is saying. He doesnt seem to understand who Shwekey is and what he does. He doesnt understand what music albums are and what disks are. He doesnt understand what the internet is and how Shwekey uses it. Yet Rav Amnon Yitzchak persists until he can get Rav Shteinman to approve.
Rafi has more here.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Dov Lior wants to ban boogie-woogie. Shorter Rabbi Lior: Baruch Goldstein good, boogie woogie bad. Shameful.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Confidential To Greedy Office Owners...

... if you're going to ask musicians to work for reduced rates because it's a last minute "low-budget" gig, be honest. Especially if you intend the sub-leader to collect payment. We do see the contract, you should know, because you send it to us to collect payment at the end of the gig.

How To Book A Gig In One Act

phone rings

Client: "Hi! Do you play Bat Mitzvahs?"

Dm: "Sure!"

Client: "Have you ever played a Bat Mitzvah for kids from XXX school?"

Dm: "Yes. I recently played the XXX family's event."

Client: "My daughter told me she wanted us to hire the musician who played that event. I left messages for that family a few weeks ago asking who it had been, but they never got back to me. That was you?"

Dm: "Yes."

Client: "We'd like to book the date."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Best Bencher Ever

Betcha didn't get one o' these nifty benchers at any of your gigs this season...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

6/30/10 Link Dump

At Vosi Iz Neis (and many other places) "Jewish-Music Figure Gets Prison in $36K Theft." Naturally, the commentors there show their scorn for... the victim, Nice. [/sarcasm]

DovBear posts "Stuff Jewish kids do in what looks like a dorm room."

Rabbi Lazer Brody: Jewish recording artist.

Yesomim hayinu v'ein Turkish concert.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

6/23/10 Link Dump

Jeremiah Lockwood's latest Nigun-in-Residence at the Forward is Mimitzrayim Ge'altanu.

The WJC reports about a children’s song endorsing martyrdom that is gaining popularity in Arab world. This is sad!

KFAR is giving away free Jewish music by The Sway Machinery * Moshe Skier Band * Tracy Friend * Modern Klezmer Quartet * Golem * Sagol59 * Breslov Bar Band * Shir Yaakov * Stereo Sinai * Sarah Aroeste * Naomi Less * Evan Jacover.

Treppenwitz (happy B-day, BTW) comments on Elvis Costello cancelling his Israel concert.

On the same topic, in the Guardian... "When Musicians Boycott Countries There Are No Clear Winners."

Guess who's cornered the vuvuzela market... that's right!

Tablet writes up and podcasts Yiddish Princess. So does The Arty Semite. YP front-princess Sarah Gordon is one of this years 36 Under 36.

Ben Sheffner says that the "We Are The World" flotilla spoof does not count as legally protected parody. See why here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tim Sparks Guitar Seminar in NYC - Monday Night 6/14

Tim Sparks forwards info about his upcoming workshop in NYC. I highly recommend checking this out, especially, but not only if you play guitar.
For Immediate Release:
Tim Sparks Performance/Seminar
Monday. June 14 at 7:00
at The Stone, corner of Avenue C and Second Street
admission 20.00
The Stone
Tim Sparks will play renditions from his Tzadik Records repertoire, including celebrated contributions to Masada Guitars and his most recent CD on Tzadik, Little Princess.

This performance will be followed by an in depth lecture demo explaining and discussing the materials and techniques that comprise his unique approach to world, jazz and Jewish traditional music.
Notated transcriptions of some of the tunes being discussed will be provided.

“An amazing technician with elements of guitarists Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Lenny Breau, Andres Segovia and Doc Watson, Sparks stands alone in his ability to arrange and abstract worldly elements into a cohesive guitar-based approach.” All About Jazz New York

“Sparks is one of those rare players, like Bill Frisell, who transcends the inherited vocabulary of the instrument to create something other than guitar music with it – something both simpler and more complex.” Seth Rogovy, author of The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide
to Jewish Roots and Soul Music.

“Sparks is endlessly inventive and virtuosic in the extreme." George Robinson-The Jewish Week

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Annals of JM PR

It's been a while since we've taken a look at the state of JM PR. Here's an actual unedited text of a promo email sent out by an American PR company on behalf of an Israeli artist.
Sameach music is proud to announce that the eighth album of Sandy Shmuely is finally here and its called “Ki Tov.” The album, one of the best out recently, includes hits like “Sandish” that just has a great feel about  it,  as well as melodic songs and the quiet joys strings Wally’s famous. Sandy Shmueli, an American artist with eight Jewish music albums under his belt, last recorded in an Israeli production, blue and white. Sandy’s songs (numbering in 54) are a mix of folk and popular connect to everyone. Sandy’s Israeli personality reflected in tunes, processing and execution of his many hits. Shmueli While lives in New York, but through performing across the globe lives around the country all the time.

The new album “Ki Tov” includes eleven tracks of diverse original songs all written by Sandy himself. Arrangements and production are a joint venture between Shmueli and Asher Lugasi, an Israeli musician with a recording studio in the NY. Sandy specializes in Jewish poetry, Jewish and traditional variety of the latest music styles, and appears nightly at celebrations and events world wide. Shmueli is considered a prolific creator in the field of Jewish contemporary music.

6/10/10 Link Dump

Lorin Sklamberg has a new blog, YIVOSounds.

Following up on the United Breaks Guitars saga, here's the final video in the trilogy.

Here's an idiotic Vos Iz Neias op-ed about wedding photographers and overtime charges.

In the J-Post... "Gibson... Yamaha... Budagov?"

Finally, a wet tichel contest.

In Review: Albums by Tim Sparks, Craig Taubman, Irving Fields, Music of Putti, Nomi Teplow, and Abraham Inc.

Apologies to all who have sent in review albums. I've been letting these pile up, and then keep putting off posting the review column, because I'd like to get the latest discs received in to it too. The end result? A very delayed columnn. So, I'm publishing the completed ones now and hope to get to the others soon.

Off the review stack...

Tim Sparks: Little Princess – Tim Sparks Plays Naftule Brandwein

This record features trio arrangements of Naftule Brandwein’s music performed by acoustic guitarist Tim Sparks, with Masada bassist Greg Cohen and percussionist Cyro Baptista.

Sparks is best-known on the Jewish music scene for his solo acoustic guitar releases on Tzadik. I reviewed "Neshama" here.

Sparks says: “It’s not meant to be a klezmer record. I just followed the melodies to the places they took me on the guitar.”

The musicianship on this record is great, but I find that the percussion parts on some of these tunes feel a bit off to me (style-wise, not rhythm-wise.) Cyro Baptista’s musicianship is first-rate, but as I listened to this disc, I find myself wondering what the project would have sounded like with Balkan/Middle-Eastern percussion rather than Brazilian/Latin. Bossa Brandwein, although masterfully executed, feels like a stretch. The main offender in this regard, to my ears, is “Oh Daddy, That’s Good.”

Setting stylistic differences aside, the music is well played, with nice tasteful acoustic guitar stylings by Sparks who blends interesting chord voicings, nice harmonic substitutions, and creative improvisations, into something that I would agree isn’t really Klezmer, as many define the term, but is still very Jewish sounding. The band blends well together, with Cohen’s powerful acoustic bass lines supporting Sparks’ improvisations.

Fave tracks include “Der Yid In Jerusalem,” ‘Turkish Circle Dance,” and “A Begel With Onions,” which Sparks also recorded in a solo arrangement on an earlier release.

Give it a chance and see what you think.

Amazon has it here:

Craig Taubman: Holy Ground

This album is a mix of lightly rocking liturgical settings and simple English spiritual pop. If Taubman’s target audience disc for this disc is the suburban Jewish soccer mom, then he’s likely succeeded with this project.

Consisting of simple hooky settings of texts from Kabbalat Shabbat and spiritual English lite-pop, the set has a little more emphasis on heavier sounds, compared to Taubman’s previous, Friday Night Live. This isn’t exactly my taste, but I could see using L’cha Dodi for my Hebrew school students.

Amazon has it here:

Irving Fields: More Bagels & Bongos

Pianist Irving Field’s “Bagels & Bongos” recordings are legendary as Jewish novelty recordings, but the piano playing is actually quite good.

According to the record label, Roman Midnight Music, this reissue, unlike the recent reissue of “Bagels & Bongos” is being done in collaboration with Fields. This is the first of many planned releases between the label and Irving, including a reissue of the trio‘s “Bikini & Bongos”, a combination of Hawaiian and Latin music, and the forthcoming solo album “Irving Field’s Jewish Comedy Album” of Appalachia style Yiddish comedy.

Definitely worth a spin! Where else are you going to find a Latin arrangement of Dos Pintele Yid or Papirosn?

Amazon has it here:

The Music of Putti: When I Wake Up

This charming disc features the music of the Jewish Village of Putti, Uganda. It is a fundraiser for the village and 100% of the proceeds go to the village. Mike Cohen, who spearheaded the project and plays flute on the recording spent two weeks recording the village singers in Putti last year.

This is a charming set of Jewish African music. Buy this one for the mitzvah and enjoy it for its charm. It’s a happy album.

I can't get "Ehad Mi Yodea" out of my head.

Amazon has it here:

Nomi Teplow: Like A Rushing Spirit

Teplow is a strong singer and the material is strong too. The disc features big production pop/rock with spiritually infused lyrics that include both original lyrics and settings of traditional texts. Nice big production on this one.

The album includes a cover of "Proud" with new Hebrew lyrics titled "Or", and an adapted version of David Foster & Carol Bayer Sager's "The Prayer." There’s a Saint Thomas quote on “Rikdi Rachel”.

(As an aside, I’ve been critical in the past of Israeli session guitarist Avi Singolda’s playing as being sterile, technically perfect, but lacking soul. This album is a good illustration of this. Singolda plays perfectly on most of the tracks, but the guitar playing by Dudu Tassa on two tracks stands out more and sounds much more personal to me.)

I like this one a lot. Fave tracks include "Or", "Rikdi Rachel" "Lo Gava Libi" & Kma'ayan Hamitgaber".

Amazon has it here:

Abraham Inc.

This is an awesomely funky collab between Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, Funk trombone legend Fred Wesley, and Hip-Hop producer SoCalled. Backed by a stellar band, the group plays awesomely funky arrangements. The melodies are largely klezmer or Yiddish, but the music is pure funk. This is a great dance record.

Fave tracks include “Tweet-Tweet,” an arrangement of “Zhokul Rezeshilor” from German Goldensteyn’s book, and a re-imagining of “Balebuste Zisinke.” “Heise Balebuste” indeed. There’s even a non-lame cover of Hava Nagila aka “The H Tune.”

Amazon has it here:

Stay tuned for reviews of Peter & Ellen Allard's "Little Taste of Torah", Prodezra Beats "Proud to Be" EP, Julie Silver's "Reunion", and a lovely disc by cellist Richard Locker entitled "Masterpieces in Transcription" and more.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

John Zorn Collaborates with Charlie Daniels

Audio here. Best version of "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" ever!

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Flotilla Choir

Caroline Glick and friends have recorded a song about the Gaza flotilla.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

From the mailbag...

Michael S. writes:
I just saw this "Torah is not hefker" brochure in a shul and searched a web to check some of his assumptions. Your post was very helpful.
However I can't say I personally disagree with an idea of some sensorship of music and a hashgacha.
After all there was a time when food was checked by ingredients. Now we have heksherim. Different heksherim have different levels.
So why not the same in music. Even if some music is approved by MO heksher, that's also good. I am sure there is plenty out there that can not meet even triangle K standard.
Last time I was at a wedding, the music was terribly noisy. If this was hard for me to bear, what do you think older people assume? And some of it did sound kind of strong, I would prefer something like dveikus.
Look, if the music is too mild, the people who like strong music can still listen and "bare" it.
But if it is too strong, those who can't bare it get very sick.
Please let me know what you think.
By the way, I liked your referrence to an article against racism. Thank you again.
I disagree. It is patently obvious that those involved with the idea of a music hashgacha have neither the musical nor halachik acumen to be legislating on these matters. So, on practical grounds alone, this is a very bad idea. I'm strongly opposed on idealogical grounds as well.

The issue of loud volume at simchas is a separate one. I anticipate having more about "volume police" shortly.

Wolf Krakowski forwards a link to a concert video.

Moshe forwards a link to Hava Nagilah, What Is It?

Shalom comments on the too loud one-man-band:
Hey, at least he had an equalizer and knew how it worked.

A couple years ago, I bought a cheap digital SPL meter at Radio Shack, and I started taking it to chassenes in my camera bag. If the music painfully loud even though earplugs, I haul it out and check; if it consistently registers over 96 dB, I'll go over and say something. Not that anyone listens. If they can even hear.

Shortly thereafter, I started, when going to a simcha, to make a stop at a drug store on the way and buy a bulk pack (50 pair) of ear plugs. I don't usually have too many of them left by the end of the evening...
I actually thought about supplying free dispenser of pre-packaged earplugs in the lobby of various simcha venues. The packages would have my band info and the tag line "If we were playing tonight, you wouldn't need these!" As I mention above, I anticipate having more on this topic soon.

Finally, Shmuel forwards a link to Zevy Zions' latest solo CD, "Dizzy Accordion."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Top Ten Ways To Tell That the Caterer At That High-End Event Is Chassidish

A recent experience at a simcha I played has prompted the following. I'll start it off.

Top Ten Ways To Tell That the Caterer At That High-End Event Is Chassidish

1) The hot stations at the buffet table near the band contain Carciofi alla giudia, grilled duck wraps, and potato kugel.

2) The dark sauce in a bowl at the sushi station --next to the wasabi and ginger-- is teriyaki, not soy.

3) The Perrier at the bar is actually Mayim Chayim.

Send in yours!

6/1/10 Link Dump

Best mouse ever: Boss DS-1 Pedal Mouse.

This is interesting. Recorded in 1942, here's Mr. Hitler by Leadbelly.

G: "I Learn Alone..."

Tablet Magazine has a nice write-up on Mike Cohen's collaboration with the Jews of Putti, Uganda.

Amazon has that recording here:

100% of the proceeds goes directly to the village of Putti.

Oy. Loca indeed.

Rabos Machshavos with Michoel Schnitzler , Lipa & Shloime Taussig.

"Formal Punk", a review of the Shondes latest.

Jeremiah Lockwood plays "Mama Bin Ich Farlieb."

I found בין דין לדין when they linked Blog in Dm in the post "Cognitive Dissonance."

They have a nice post on "Trash-Talking Poets, From the Golden Age To the Ghetto" which includes links to some worthwhile YouTube performances.

Hey look! It's the Shaya and Perry Ringtone!

The election is over, and Joe Lazar lost. But this Joe Lazar Music Video is still noteworthy.

I think someone should start a tribute band to cover these YouTube songs. Tentative set list...

Shaya and Perry
Ikh Vi Zein A Rebbe
Joe Lazaar Music video
Lipa's La Vida Loca (see link above).
and more...

Holiday Fun at Guitar Center

I rarely shop at Guitar Center these days. I used to stop in to the local store periodically a few years back, and spent a decent amount of money there. The direction the chain has gone in the past few years has made it unappealing to shop there. The prices are not competitive, generally speaking, and the service is not good. I've read on a bunch of forums about how GC's management decisions are the proximate cause of this, as they result in virtually no long-term employees at these stores, making it difficult to develop a personal relationship with a sales rep.

In my experience, the reps that they do have are quite ill-informed about the product lines GC carries, and are unaware of significant product lines that their store doesn't carry. For instance, the local keyboard rep had never heard of Nord. It's hard to have an intelligent gear discussion with someone who doesn't even know what's on the market.

GC does have a price match policy, but given that they provide no tech support and no returns on "special order" items, it seems silly to ask them to price match an online retailer, especially one that offers tech support.

As well, I've gone to a few of their holiday "list" sales over the years, but found that even being the first one in the door, didn't mean that you'd get any deals. Several times, the items I wanted off the list (which is handed to you as you enter) were not available/allegedly sold out, despite the fact that I was first into the store. Incompetence or dishonesty? Either way, not appealing.

That said, sometimes, a last minute gear requirement means I have to pick something up there. So, Monday morning, I headed over to buy a pair of speaker poles and a direct box. One of my poles had acted up the day before, and I needed a quick solution. Before heading over, I checked the price for a pair online. A quick search on the GC website showed a pair of Ultimate Support TS 90B speaker stands for $159. At my GC, they had these in stock, so I told the salesman that I'd like a pair. The pair rang up as $200. When I told the salesman that they were $159 on the GC website, he and his manager made skeptical noises, assuring me that $100 per pole was a good "sale" price, and that they'd never seen them on sale for less. The salesman then went into their in-store system and showed me how a search didn't turn up this price. The experience reminded me of this Best Buy story.

I told the clerk to cancel the stands and that I'd order them online. He made some some sarcastic comments about how he'd love to know where I'm ordering them from, etc. So, I took the direct box I'd already paid for and left. When I got home, I went back to the GC website, where I easily found the same $159 price for the pair. I was tempted to order them online, but the online store is backordered and I needed them ASAP. So, I printed out the page and went back in to the local GC where the rep matched their own price. Neither he nor his manager (who needed to approve the price match) apologized for essentially accusing me of lying about the price earlier. They also didn't apologize for the inconvenience of making two trips to buy the poles. In short, a customer service fail! I'm not likely to be back.

This is the second customer service fail I've experienced with GC over Memorial Day.

Two years ago, I had an issue with them as well.

That Memorial Day, I was looking for an SKB case for an 88 key keyboard. The GC website announced a sale, so I checked the SKB case pricing out. The page listed the case at $300 (it's usually closer to $500) with the annotation "new lower price" prominently featured. In contrast, the sale pages all had flags that said "sale" on them. I called around a few local stores to find one that had the size I needed in stock. One did. Since I was heading out to play two gigs that day and two the next and couldn't easily make it to the store over the weekend, I asked if the price was good that weekend only. If it was, I'd have asked a friend to pick one up for me. The salesperson assured me that they'd honor that price afterwards too, as the website says "new lower price" not "sale." Given the assurance that they'd honor that price, I went into that GC on Wednesday, at which time I was informed that they would not honor the quote, because the website no longer had them listed at $300. That was a change that must have happened that day, as the website had showed the $300 price on Tuesday. Despite finding the $300 price on Google, and the verbal assurance I'd be given, the store refused to honor the salesman's commitment. I left without buying the case.

Instead, I turned to craigslist, buying a mint Roland digital piano in mint SKB flight case for less then GC wanted just for the case. The piano had been purchased by an elderly gentleman who used the case to take it home from the store. The case had been used exactly twice and was in perfect condition. I sold the Roland on eBay and wound up with a brand new SKB case plus cash in my pocket.

Prediction. If Guitar Center doesn't drastically change their business model soon, specifically with regard to pricing and customer service. they will soon be out of business.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Klezmer Requests

Yesterday's fun requests...

Kale Bazetsn, Nign (Lorin Sklamberg), Doina Naftule, Der Alter Bulgar, Fisherlid/Klezmatics Khosidl, Firn Di Mekhutonim, Vu Nemt Men Parnosse, Der Nikolaever Bulgar, and 7:40. Plus we got to play a sweet version of Erev Shel Shoshanim sung by an Irish guest. Fun!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Nigun Project #3 is Up

Jeremiah Lockwood's latest for the nigun project is up at the Forward.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How To Write A Hit Song!

The Axis of Awesome leaks Eli Gerstner's secret...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

What's The Matter with That One-Man-Band?

A few months back, I had the "pleasure" of attending a simcha where the entertainment was provided by a one-man-band and singer. (For my Yiddish readers, that's a von-men-bend un zinger"). The musician is one of the long-time "names" in that end of the business. I was actually interested to see how he approached playing a large yeshivish wedding. That is, I was interested until he started playing. Natch, the music was painfully loud. In addition to the volume issue, there was a larger issue. That is, the music just didn't sound good. Specifically, it sounded as though the music was EQed to be as shrill and annoying as possible. And then it occurred to me that he had EQed the music to compensate for high frequency hearing loss he's likely suffered from years of playing waaay to loud at parties. The music probably sounded great to him, because his hearing has been so damaged by years of high volume playing.

Hatin' on the "Get" song!

George doesn't like "Give Her A Get! An Ode To Jewish Divorce." He writes:
I think this song and other things like it make light of a serious and very private situation. What about Jewish men who are victims of women refusing to accept the get? There are many Jewish men who are being slandered because it is PC to attack men but not PC to bring up that women use the get as leverage. Maybe you can put up a video criticizing women too.
Sure, George. Just send us the video of your "#$@^ Won't Accept A Get" song, and we'll be glad to post it for you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Springtime Brings Out The Peeps

"Super Spreadsheet Client"
This peep has every last detail of their wedding nailed down. They have made absolutely sure that not even one second of the event goes unprogrammed. We know this because the emails they've sent have been thorough. A list of song requests for each part of the affair... a 2 gig file of audio of each song requested... a spreadsheet that maps out the length of each audio clip... and a schedule that assumes the band will take *exactly* the same amount of time as the recording to play each tune. Whew!

"Where'd The Art Go"
This peep is the black sheep of their chareidi family. While playing a family celebration in their home, we notice that all of the art hanging in the living room is gone. There are just bare hooks. Quite odd, given the luxurious decor. On closer look, we notice a new inset electric outlet placed just behind where the main painting behind the sofa would hang. And then it hits us. Its not only art that's been hidden, it's the flat screen TV that is the centerpiece of the room, that's been removed too. What they don't know won't hurt 'em! In the meantime, the relatives can hang their black hats on the vacant hooks.

"Dad Doesn't Get It"
This peep *needs* his son to give a long and complicated lomdus-filled high-level dvar Torah at his Bar Mitzvah. The fact that this child is not cut out for this either intellectually or socially seems not to matter. Twenty painful minutes later, the speech is over, but the bar Mitzvah boy will likely live with the feeling of failure forever. Note to dads. The speech isn't about demonstrating your intellectual acumen. If you've got a kid who is up to it, great! If not, don't force it. Chanoch lena'ar al pi darko!

"The Greatest Fan Ever"
This peep loves our band. Here's a paraphrase: "Wow! You guys are awesome! Is that a bass? Wow! I love bass! And guitar? Yes! To guitarist: "You're awesome! To band:I see there's a keyboard player and a drummer. Perfect! Clarinet too? Excellent. You guys are awesome!" All this before we've played a single note. The best part was that it was totally sincere too. To the greatest fan ever... you are awesome!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

4/22/10 Link Dump

If you have not yet checked out the Yiddish Song of the Week blog, head on over! Last week's song was “Dos Shabes Lid” performed by Avrum Yitshkhok Moskovitz. Check it out!

This week's song is “Bay deym ruv in shtib” performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.

Over at, there's an interesting survey of the Halachik view of Chazzanim using tuning forks on Shabbos. Its in Hebrew.

heeb'n'vegan posts an interview with Matisyahu about going vegan.

Over at the Forward, a new audio clip from artist-in-residence Jeremiah Lockwood's The Nigun Project: At the Table.

At Tablet Magazine, Alexander Gelfand writes about Joel Rubin's recent concert in memory of Dave Tarras.

Jewish Music Report posts "Alternative Jewish Music – Acoustic Jazz".

Finally, here's the best of "Jazz Club"! Nice!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Talmudic Echad Mi Yodea

Life in Israel posts "An Alternative Echad Mee Yodeia video.

Chag Kasher v'sameach! A Zissen Pesach! Happy Passover!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

3/29/10 Link Dump

Lipa Shmeltzer get approval to open a shul in Airmont, NY. Speaking of.... Lipa's also released a Pesach hagada!

Rokhl writes "Yiddish American Music: Camp or For Real?"

The Big City writes about Abraham Inc.

Finally, Dovid Kerner writes:
If you're planning a link dump, I'd be honored to be included ...

Hot off the presses – ‘Matza’laya’ - a new song/YouTube for Pesach!

Here’s the link Matza'laya

As you'll see/hear, the Kerner kids did the artwork, I did the pick'in.

I'd like to think that Hank would have approved.

Chag Sameach!

From the mailbag...

Catching up on older emails...

Rabbi Gil Student writes:
This book might interest you. I plan on writing about it next week.

Copyright in Jewish Law by R. Nachum Menashe Weisfish: Copyright in Jewish Law by Rabbi Nachum Menashe Weisfish |
That post is here: Hirhurim - Musings: Copyright in Jewish Law

Rabbi Josh Waxman emails a link to his post "Copying music, yashrus, and the new information economy." He makes more compelling arguments on some side issues, compared to my erstwhile debater, whom he gives way more credit than is due, but seems to miss the main point. (I believe I've written about some of these side issues in the past. No time to find links now.) As a side point, in his last post, my erstwhile opponent demonstrates that he can't read a teshuva properly. He wrote:
As I noted before, there are these who indeed don't allow copying. One instance is R' Moshe, (here, although he doesn't give a rationale).
I urge people to read the teshuva he links (which I'd cited earlier, incidentally) wherein Rav Moshe explicitly gives reasons for why it is prohibited. This fellow can't be trusted to accurately represent written responsa, and we're supposed to accept his word on alleged oral responsa from dead people? Nice.

Naftali writes:
While discussing the story of Purim over Purim, with the lessons learned, I could not help but think about the discussions you have been having with Yosef Greenberg.

The Jews who attended the Seudah of Achashveirosh had plenty of rationalizations of why there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. No where in the Torah does it say not to partake in any type of the entertainment or food that was being offered at that party. However, we know now that although according to the letter of the law there is nowhere that forbids it; the spirit of the law - the famous fifth shulchan orech - is something we as Jews must adhere to, and they should have known not to be a part of it.

Although the Torah might not specifically forbid copying music, one must use his common sense and understand that this is certainly not ethically right. The Torah is Diracheha darchei noam, and certainly would not want that a Yid should put his heart, soul, and money into a project so that someone (another yid!?) should copy it for free. Copying music = Achashveirosh's Seuda. Go have a party.
Abe writes:
It seems Naftali is “guilty” of the same! The Im Eshkocheich which he refers to as the Lev Tahor version is originally R’ Mottel Twersky’s.
True. That said, there's a difference between not knowing the authorship of a well-known Carlebach melody and associating a Twersky song with the group that made it famous.

Ephraim writes:
Still searching for the hebrew lyrics and translation to the song "קר במסקובה" Kar Bmoskova - "It's Cold In Moscow" as sung by Dudu Fisher on the album Elokai Neshama.
J. forwards a link to a Leonard Cohen Ohad! video clip.‬‎

Daniel (and several others) forwarded a link to "Introducing for the very first time.... Lady GaGa?"

E. forwards a link to a video for Yeshiva University Maccabeats - One Day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Nigun Project

The first installment of Jeremiah Lockwood's "Nigun Project" is up at the Forward. It's a "remake" of a Breslov melody.

Monday, March 08, 2010

3/8/10 Link Dump - UPDATED

Via Teruah - Jewish Music, here is the Yiddish Song of the Week website.
This initiative is part of a larger effort by the AJFRP to revitalize traditional Yiddish folksinging performance and research on the subject. To that end, this website will emphasize field recordings of traditional Yiddish folksingers from around the world contributed by folklorists, ethnomusicologists, musicians, singers and collectors.

Each Yiddish song will be presented with Yiddish words and translation, along with commentary from the contributor. Since the website is a blog, we hope that each song contribution will elicit comments from others on the song itself, or on the singing style of the singer. Perhaps others will contribute a variant of the song from their recordings, etc.
The following could be interesting. (It could also just be marketing for specific Jewish artists.)
Lishmoa is an innovative new educational curriculum using Jewish music to teach text study, values & ethics, Hebrew, and social justice within a Judaic framework. Lishmoa seeks to transform Jewish education through the power and spirit of Jewish music while promoting the purveyors of Jewish music from around the world.

Lishmoa presents a synergistic approach to Jewish education utilizing music, videos and the internet– conveying the traditions and history within Jewish music blended with the future of technology and innovation.
Lishmoa's Will Samuels writes:
Thank you very much for including Lishmoa in today's "Link Dump." Just to clarify- our goal is to include a wide variety of established and upcoming Jewish music practitioners within the curriculum. We hope to be able to expose folks to the vast array of talent that is out there within the many varieties of Jewish music. Through the Jewish music companies (such as oysongs, Shemspeed, and Jdub) and blogs (such as yours and Teruah), we have been able to discover some great new talent, and we look forward to incorporating their work into the curriculum.

Punk Rock prejuidice?

Hirhurim comments on the demise of the Life Of Rubin blog.

Another outgrowth of the Lipa ban...

Now he's published a Hagadah!

in this wedding clip, the groom walks down the aisle to the theme from Sesame Street.

This is aggravating!
My sister-in-law, a very fine Bais Yaakov girl, from Lakewood, who I am very proud to be affiliated with, is involved in a youth tznius organization. She not involved in terms of ideology necessarily, but does a lot of work for them. In any case, she recruited me to sing on CD they were sending out in a mass-mailing. (My brother wanted to hear the cd, but he can’t listen to any of the other girls singing, so having me, his sister, accompany her was the perfect solution).

I had a great time recording. It was my first time ever and I enjoyed the experience. Me Geit Veiyter.

I was by my parents for Shabbos and I don’t recall how it came up, but my mother ending up slipping to me, that the tznius organization wasn’t going to be using any of the tracks that I sang on. They loved my voice, it’s beautiful, don’t get them wrong. However, in comparison to my sister-in-laws voice (which is quite nice) mine is much more trained, and since the purpose of the organization is to promote tznius, they didn’t think it was a good idea to have a voice like mine on their cd.
Read the whole thing!

Here's Forest Hills State of Mind with Billy Eichner and Rachel Dratch. It has an explicit content warning.