Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Very Vishnitz Christmas!

The nuns at the Beit Jimal monastary in Israel sang R' Chaim Banet's "Avinu Av Harachaman" as part of their Christmas services.

Here's the video:

אבינו אב הרחמן של ר' חיים בנט במיסת חג המולד בבית גמאל from bhol on Vimeo.

More commentary on this at Life in Israel, where I found this.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Family Badchen

Mishpacha Magazine profiles badchen/Composer Pinky Weber in "Pinky's Prayer"

8th Day - All You Got Video

This is well done. Love how these guys are blending chassidus w/contemporary music and a creative video concept.

More On Gangnam Style אויף יידיש

Rokhl posts the lyrics/translation here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Frum Satire Is Hot-Chani Watching!

Details here: Will Lipa Schmeltzer be put in cherem for featuring Hot Chanies in his latest video?

Minhag Avoyseyni B'yudeyni - Chanukah Violin

The violin(ce) starts about 3 minutes in to this clip. There's an old Chassidish minhag for the rebbe to play violin while the candles are burning. Presumably, the first rebbe to do this could play one.

Move Over, MBD!

Rokhl writes "Move Over Dschinghis Khan, Gangam Style Has Arrived in Boro Park."


Sunday, December 09, 2012


Apparently, It's "Plug Your Friend's Video" Season

Motti Engel forwards a link to a video he shot of David Ross singing a Chanukah version of songs by Alicia Keys  and Rihanna. (Does anyone know why so many frum guys feel compelled to cover black women singer material?)

Meanwhile, 'Sam Gel' writes: "Hi My friend is a Newcomer in the Chasidic World he sings Amazingly good please Upload this clip to your Website So others can see it & Advertise him. Thank You!"


 Not my speed, but maybe you'll like 'em?

Lipa Schmeltzer's Chanuka Video

Friday, December 07, 2012

It's Been A While Since We Had A Post About A Ban....

so here's one... just in time for Chanukah!

 Failed Messiah posts "Williamsburg Hasidim Attack Cancer Charity, Causing Ban" about a controversy over a charity fundraiser event featuring live entertainment that was protested in Williamsburg. He calls it a ban in his translation of the text, which is not correct. The text asks people to call and protest to the organization, it does not ban the organization/event. At any rate, the organization wound up blocking the live stream of the event from IP blocks in Williamsburg (and perhaps other neighborhoods. Viewers who logged in from those areas were greeted with a message reading "OOPS! Sorry, due to rabbinical guidance, our video stream can not stream to the IP address of your neighborhood." See the FM link for a screen cap. Oy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Still More... Pella Hanukkah Mashup

Pella Productions just released their first coed video in partnership with Check this Hanukkah mashup! They are now offering co-ed acapella groups for events!

Post-Sandy Reggae Chanukah

Well done, ROCKAZION!

Just because Chanukah is coming...

doesn't mean we can't appreciate a lovely Yom Kippur song... Check this!

Hanukkah Lovin'

Michelle Citrin is singin' 'bout Hanukkah Lovin'.

Hurricane Sandy Destroys Jewish Singer's Home

Details at NY Times in "Artifacts of a Music Career, Gone With the Storm's Roar.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Banjos and Guitar Lightning Deals at Amazon today

If you're on the market for a good banjo, or an electric guitar, Amazon has a bunch of Deering Banjos and Schechter guitars coming up on lightning deals today. Watch this link, Amazon Lightning Deals for the offers. Some good deals to be had today!

Friday, November 30, 2012

More Chanukah Videos!

More Chanukah music.... Here's the latest iteration of Six13 with Haneirot Halalu.

Hat tip, E.

And, here's Naomi Less and Glenn Grossman with Eight Nights.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Heaven/Hell?

My 12th grade rebbe was fond of saying that heaven and hell were the exact same thing. A gemara with a shtender....

In a similar vein, I'd like to suggest it is a wedding at a low-rent hall with a super-loud one-man-band. If I'm correct, it's pretty clear where I'm going....

My Arabishe Mame

Check the video here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

From the mailbag... (more Chanukah videos)

E. forwards a link to the "ex-Macs":

But he prefers this version:

We report, you decide!

A Hamas Music Video

Cultivating hate. Glorifying murder.

Monday, November 26, 2012

'Hasidic New Second Wave'

Over at Tablet, Jake Marmer writes about the upcoming Tzadik release of all of the Hasidic New Wave recordings as a boxed set. With some audio clips.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nice One, Maccabeats!

They went there, without going there!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Speaking of....

Speaking of Adrienne Cooper Z"L, you can find her last CD, Enchanted, as well as other albums of her work at Amazon... There's a direct link to Enchanted as well as Ghetto Tango here, (also some other recommended albums by other artists), but you can find her other albums on Amazon too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Celebrating Adrienne Cooper Z"L

Celebrate the life of Adrienne Cooper, z"l at a big, gala concert in NYC on Dec 22, Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, 8pm, in benefit to start new foundation to carry on her work. More info at her website.

The Facebook event is here: A Kholem / Dreaming in Yiddish: A Concert in Tribute to Adrienne Cooper

 Sadly, I have to be playing elsewhere that night, but I'll be there in spirit. If you're in town and interested in getting a nice glimpse into the NYC klezmer community, and a sense of what Adrienne was about, this is a not-to-be missed chance to do just that. It's sure to be an inspirational evening!

Amazing musicians in musical tribute to a friend, colleague, and mentor. Don't miss this!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Israeli Music Therapist Helps Kids Deal With Rocket Attacks

Simply heartbreaking! An amazing way of addressing this, but devastating that it is needed.

The Music of Israel's Enemies

The Chief Orthodox Rabbi of Nebraska writes about a Hamas music video.

"שיגעון ה- "גנגנם סטייל

The title says it all. W/video links.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free Random House Book Giveaway Reminder....

You still have a few days to win a feee copy of 'Light and Shade' - Jimmy Page's "Oral Autobiography". Get those entries in!

Arrested Development

UOJ reports that the former director of the Toronto Pirchei Choir was arrested on child sex-abuse charges. Given the history of abuse allegations, and other negative outcomes, perhaps it's time to end the boys choir thing....

Beware of Paypal!

Just had a frustrating experience with eBay/Paypal. I'm sharing my experience so you can be aware of the situation and avoid the same issue...

Firstly, I should say that I have been an eBay user for many, many years, and have been very successful using eBay and Paypal. However, recent changes have made me uneasy about the site's security and their policies. (For those who don't know; eBay owns PayPal.) Until about three years ago, I was very satisfied with their service.

Since then, a number of incidents haschanged my impression of eBay and PayPal.

Some examples....

1) I auctioned off a large keyboard. In the auction, I stated I would only ship to the continental US. A lot of people were "watching" the auction, when an Australian bought it using "Buy It Now."

After canceling the bid, I was able to relist the auction, but when you "realist" an auction, there is no way to let the people who had been watching the auction know that the item is available again. You just have to hope they see it.

2) I listed an iPhone. There were a lot of watchers and bidders. At the last moment, the auction was "sniped" by a bidder with 0 feedback from Vietnam who bid a ridiculous price. It was obvious that the buyer wouldn't pay, yet eBay technically required me to wait a week before filing an unpaid bidder report. Again, I lost the watchers/bidders... and time.

I should note that in addition to losing the watchers/bidders, the auction restart affects the timing of your sale/cash flow. For example, I listed the keyboard so that the auction would end a few days before I left town. When the auction was cancelled, I was unable to relist the board for a few weeks, due to travel.

3) eBay/PayPal has made it very easy for buyers to make fake claims/freeze your funds. When I sold the iPhone, the buyer filed an "item not received" claim a month later. Since I had the tracking/delivery confirmation info, I was able to get it dismissed, but I had to spend an hour on the phone with them to do so. During that conversation, the rep told me that this buyer had pulled this quite often. Yet, eBay/PayPal was still allowing him to do it.

These are a few examples.... which leads me to my current situation.

Recently, I linked my eBay & PayPal accounts at eBay's prompting, allegedly for more efficient payment. Yesterday, I won an auction for an iPad with wireless and cell connectivity. My intention is to use it for music notation and synth playing at gigs. This was my first time using PayPal/eBay since linking the accounts. Usually, I am able to choose the funding source, whether my bank account or credit card, before completing the transaction. Generally, I choose credit card for significant purchases, to have an additional layer of buyer protection. This time, I wasn't given the choice, and the payment immediately went through using my bank account as the source. It shouldn't be a big deal, except for this.

A few minutes after the payment went through, I got a message from the seller telling me that the iPad did NOT have cell connectivity, only wifi, and offering a refund if this mattered to me. I accepted the refund, which should have been the end of the transaction. Except, that's not how PayPal treats situations like this. PayPal withdrew the money from my account, and will refund it in 3-5 business days. The refund will go to my PayPal account, and then it will be another 3-5 business days before it is returned to my bank account.

The PayPal rep I spoke to says that PayPal fronts the money to the seller "as a service to the buyer, so that the item will be shipped sooner". However, when the buyer refunds the money, Paypal will wait the 3-5 business days is allegedly takes for the bank to transfer the $ to PayPal, before crediting my PayPal account. Then, if I want the $ back in my bank account, it will take ANOTHER 3-5 days to make that transfer happen. I don't know, the funds disappeared from my bank account immediately. It seems to me that PayPal wants to sit on the $ for a bit, earning some interest on the funds.

This is simply unacceptable to me. PayPal has opted to provide poor customer service here. Even if their description of the timing is accurate (and I don't believe it is), they could still front me the refund just as easily as they fronted that very same $ to the seller. This poorly chosen policy will affect my use of PayPal and eBay. Caveat emptor!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Review/Giveaway: "Light and Shade" - Jimmy Page's "Oral Autobiography

Random House has just published "Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page" by Brad Tolinski, and they were kind enough to send me a review copy as well as to give away a free copy to a reader. (See below for details on how you can win the free copy).

The book is an "aural autobiography" of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, as told to Guitar World editor Brad Tolinski over the course of multiple conversations. The book is especially notable because none of the band members has ever penned an autobiography, or cooperated with a biographer.

Tolinsky's easy interviewing style reflects a deep familarity with Page's work, and there are excellent questions and follow-ups throughout.

In addition to the author's conversations with Page, he has also included context-adding interviews with Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja (Yardbirds), John Paul Jones, Led Zep publicist Danny Goldberg, Paul Rogers (Bad Company, The Firm), Jack White, and fashion designer John Varvatos.

Topics discussed in the book include: the influence of the Blues on Page's music, his time as a session guitarist, his time with the Yardbirds, a whole lot of detail about the Led Zep recordings, Page's production concepts, the making of the Led Zep movie "The Song Remains The Same", drummer John Bonham's death, Page's controversial collaboration with Whitesnake's David Coverdale, and more!

"Light and Shade" also contains a neat chapter wherein guitarist Jimmy Brown -- who transcribed every note of Page's guitar on all of Led Zeppelin's studio releases -- highlight ten songs that he feels demonstrate the uniqueness of Page's playing.

I found the book to be a very pleasant and informative read about Jimmy Page and about Led Zep. I especially found the parts about Page and the band's creative process intriguing.

This book is essential reading for Led Zeppelin fans, and even non-fans will find Page's reflections and the insights into his creative process quite fascinating.

You can read an excerpt of the book here.

Amazon has the book here:


As I mentioned above, Random House is willing to give a free copy of the book to one lucky reader. Here's how you can win it. Simply send in your written description of your best "rock guitar" moment. My email address can be found in the sidebar. It can be a description of a show you attended or a recording you love. "Jewish" rock guitar (since this is a "Jewish music" blog) or secular rock guitar moments are both acceptable. It doesn't need to be long. One or two paragraphs is fine. I'll choose the piece I find most evocative, and Random House will send the winner a copy of the book. You've got two weeks! May the best writer win! G'luck!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

11/7/12 Link Dump

Over at Emes Ve-emunah, Harry posts about Amy Weinhouse Z"L's ex boyfriend in Who is Alex Clare? And Why Do I care?

At Cross-Currents, Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein has some thoughts on "The Rabbi’s Daughter" video I mentioned recently.

Following up on another story we'd posted... here's a Mindy Meyer update: "'Diva' Comes Up a Bit Short."

Finally, a bit late... but for posterity... here's Michelle Citrin's pro-Obama music video.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Naomi Less is Mad...

...about the way women are being treated at the Kotel and elsewhere in Israel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Time For Another Asefa

Only in this case, it's not a ban, but a band. Asefa explores Sephardi piyutim as well as performs original compositions, blending Morrocan and jazz musical traditions with many other world music influences.

Check 'em out!

Bat HaRav

I just watched the film "The Rabbi's Daughter". It's a moving film about the daughter's of three well-known da'ati leumi rabbis who have chosen different paths than their families. In particular, what stands out to me is the connection (or possible connection) between an artistic nature and conflict with religion, or at least Orthodoxy... It's also moving to see the respect that secular Israeli's have for the rabbanim in the Da'ati Le'umi community. Food for thought...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Can't Believe I Missed This One When It Was Released!

This is a bizarre clip! Chassidic singer Dov Shurin pays tribute to John Lennon. (Female backup singers!)

Hat tip, A.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Call Your Zeyde - Shana Tova

E. emails a link to Temple Judea's Rosh Hashana video...

Teaching Tolerance

Here's an interesting trend... promoting tolerance for other Jew not of your immediate community... yesh tikvah... despite the leadership in those communities...

 Lipa Schmeltzer:

Yaakov Shwekey:

Friday, September 14, 2012

K'ayal Ta'arog - Halev V'hama'ayan

A beautiful arrangement of this Lubavitch melody w/ guest vocalist Yonatan Razel.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Abe Finkelstein emails about a new single he composed/collaborated with Shauli on. YOu can hear it here.

It's cool to see more complex text-based lyrics. The arrangement/production is tasteful. Nice work!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amanda Palmer - Schnorrer

Amanda Palmer needs horn and string players to play her shows for free beer and hugs. There are a lot of annoyed musicians commenting on her scheme. She raised enough on Kickstarter to pay them. No class!

Matisyahu Show Meh!

Rabbi in the Middle of America has a nice writeup of an AKA Pella event. He also reports on reviews of Matisyahu's recent shows. Matches the clips I've seen, and other reviews I've read about Matisyahu's recent performances.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Carlebach Circus Selichos?

Here's some video footage of the Carlebach Shul's Selichos this past Motzoei Shabbos.

 A couple of thoughts/comments.

1) It's Carlebach, not Carelbach. You'd think people in the music business would get it right.

2) Shlomo didn't do Selichos this way. (See here:

3) This is clearly a huge fundraiser for the Carlebach Shul. I hope they took in a lot of $$$. The community at large should support the Carlebach Shul's work year-round. Since they don't, a few big events are needed to raise funds.

4) It's obvious, both from watching the video and speaking to people who have been, that there are a very large number of people who do not connect with traditional Selichos. My question is, is it better to create Selichos entertainment for them, as this is, or would it be better if they were to find something else to do Selichos night?

5) Looking at the video (and knowing some of the people there), one can see that there are some who are sincerely attempting to connect using this medium. Equally clearly, one can see that there are many more people simply there to party. Is that necessarily a bad thing? To the extent that the party atmosphere does not distract (or even enhances) those sincere seekers who connect this way, I'd say it might even be a good thing. On the plus side, it largely keeps some of them --the ones who wouldn't be comfortable just skipping the whole ritual -- out of other shuls, where they would no doubt be talking or otherwise disturbing anyway.

6) Personally, if one wants to hear inspirational musical Selichos and/or pre-Selichos, there are numerous options available in the NY area that I'd recommend over this event. YMMV.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jump, Baby!

Check it! Jump Babylon! Great line: “Lectured on justice, hey, we invented justice, putzes...”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mindy Meyer 4 Evr!

If you haven't seen the Meyer campaign website, check it out here before watching the above video.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beck's New Album Concept Is Awesome

Check this! He's releasing the album in sheet music form only.

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Band

Ok, so I'm starting a new band to provide sub-contracting for musicians who have a family/friend situation i.e. divorce, where one of the powers that be vetoes the use of their band for a family simcha. For a nominal fee, we'll staff the job with your regular musicians under our name, so everyone will be happy. Introducing Klafte Orchestra: Because sometimes the mekhuteniste is a ?+#@!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Razel Releases 2nd Single: Nigun Belz

Yonatan Razel has a new album coming soon! Here's his cover of Nigun Belz.

Gibson Guitar Update

In response to government extortion, Gibson Guitar Settles Claim Over Imported Ebony. An outrageous example of government unfairly targeting business. This case should not have been brought.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Carlebach Meets Kuti

Zion 80 w/guests Cyro Baptista and Yemen Blues. Here is  Pischu Li.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Peep Mail

Naftali writes:
I keep forgetting to send you this peep.  This one happens all the time with minor variations. The family member that is singing at the chupa.  He comes over to rehearse during the Shmorg/Kabalas Panim (even though I am there 2 hours before the wedding with plenty of time).  Takes a few minutes to choose the key for each song.  We then practice the 2 bar intro I will give him to prompt him on his chosen key.  At the chupa all is going according to plan - or so it seems!  I play the intro...and then horror of horrors!...he starts singing in a totally different key!

I'm pretty sure we met this peep in the past, but it's always good to check in with our old friends.

Office/Sideman Relationships Questions

Interested in hearing thoughts on the following scenarios...

1) An office hires a musician to lead a gig... then a day or two beforehand, when they send out the gig information, the band size has grown and another additional musician is now the leader.

2) An office books a gig for 6 hours, say 6-12. The gig runs 5 hours. Do they need to pay the musicians for six hours?

3) An office gives a musician a gig in a specific time/venue, then switches venues  for the dates (putting the musician on another gig) from the original one half hour away (or less)  to one an hour + away.

4) A musician is requested on a gig. The office books that musician for the gig without mentioning that they were specifically requested.

In all of these cases, what (if anything) is the office's obligation? How would you deal with these?

Here's how I would deal with them.

1) I usually lead my own gigs, but in the cases where I give someone a sub-lead, I pay them the promised amount, even if staffing changes.

2) I pay the musicians for the amount of time booked. I tell them in advance, and if the gig is under time, we all benefit.

3) I'd never do this without talking to the musicians involved and getting their agreement.

4) I'd tell them they were requested.

How would you address these situations?

No Hope For The Informers!

Go here. Click on "The Music Box" in the top right hand corner. Then select track 2 - "V'lamalshinim".  Trust me on this one!

Shlock Rock On Broadway

Lenny Solomon has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Daniel in Babylon - A New Musical!.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Whose The Thief?

This report raises some interesting questions...


What would the Chazon Ish say? Incidentally, it is highly unlikely that the Chazon Ish composed the song.

More on that here.

Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot

Here's a preview of the forthcoming recording.

WSJ Discovers The Wheel

The title says it all: At Some Happy Events, 'Hava Nagila' Isn't Invited

Sadly, they missed an opportunity to explain the "Freyg Nisht" scale.

"Beat It"? That's The Best You Could Do, Adam?

The Jewish Week reports about Rabbi Greg Wall leaving Sixth Street Synagogue in "East Village’s Musician Rabbi To ‘Beat’ It."

Oy, Adam! He's a jazz/Jewish musician, not a pop star. Even "Hit The Road" would be more on target.

The loss of the space and community Greg built around Jewish arts is disappointing. Hopefully, he'll find a better-suited venue to continue inspiring both Jewish literacy and Jewish arts.

Post-Haste Videos

New Zorn Book of Angels CD out.

This one features Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz on gimbri. Nice! Check it!

 While we're videoing... Here's a music video, "Yonatan Hakatan" by "Cham Umechamem".


Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Holiday to my Yekke Friends!

I know you guys look forward to this all year...

Eli Tzion sung by Rona Keinon (w/ a melodica solo too.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We've Got Ruach, How About You?

From the mailbag...

Yehoshua writes:
I am looking to buy/download old Ruach albums (Ira Silver/Shmoo Klaver) and I ended up on your blog through google. Do you know of anywhere that they are available?
Thanks in advance.
Anyone know if these are available?

Rock the Casbah!

A clever solution to Mosque speakers aimed at a Jewish neighborhood.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Digression on the History of Jews and Black Music

Here's a track from "trombonik" Jacob Garchik's new project. Whole lotta multi-tracked horns. All played by Jacob. Sweet! Here it is. Digression on the History of Jews and Black Music

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gear Review: Boss FV-500L Volume/Expression Pedal

I've been using a Roland EV5 expression pedal for the past few years. It's worked fine with my Roland boards, and when I switched to Kurzweil, it worked ok with them too.

Recently, the wire on my pedal (which is hard-wired to the pedal) started to fray, and instead of rewiring the pedal, I decided to look at other options. After reading that one of the techs who sets up Kurzweil setups for Broadway specs the Boss FV-500L pedal for all his setups, and has never had one fail, I decided to check it out. I haven't spent too much time with it yet, but so far, I love it!

 This pedal is a huge improvement over the Roland. Here's what I like about it.

1) The throw is great, with a wider sweep than the Roland.
2) The resistance is adjustable.
3) The feel is great.
4) Solid build. Its metal instead of plastic.
5) Can be used as an audio volume pedal as well as an expression pedal.
6) The larger size and rubber grip means my foot doesn't slip off.
7) It's heavier, so the pedal doesn't slide around. It stays in one place.
8) It uses a separate cable, instead of a built-in wire, so you can easily swap out cables if one starts to go. (The Roland cable is permanently wired to the pedal, so if there's an issue, you can't just swap it out.)

The feature set includes stereo in/outs, an expression pedal out, a tuner out (to send your guitar signal to an external tuner), and a min/max adjustable volume pot.

The only issue I notice with it, is that when the pedal reaches the end of the throw, the sound of the pedal hitting the rubber stop is louder than I wish it would be. This is not an issue for live playing at stage volumes, so much as for practicing at moderate volume, where it can be distracting. It seems like it should be possible to put a very thin pad in to solve this problem without impeding the full range of the pedal. (I tested this quickly with a folded paper towel, and the noise was almost entirely gone.)  I'll see what kind of more permanent fix I can devise.

 If you're looking for an expression pedal for your keyboard, (or a volume pedal for your guitar) you might want to give this one a look.

 Amazon has it here:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Is Freygish?

Musicologists, klezmer musicians, and J-music bloggers will try to fool you into thinking it's a unique scale and not just a mode of harmonic minor. That's just a story.

The real truth is that the term was popularized by a now-forgotton American clarinet player who once approached legendary klezmer clarinetist Naftule Brandwein to ask about the scale. "Freyg Nisht", the notoriously secretive Brandwein replied. Not understanding Yiddish, the hapless American took that as the name and shared his corrupted pronunciation of it, "Freygish" with all who asked. And that's why American club date musicians call it "Freygish. #DoIReallyHaveToLabelThisOne?

Apparently, I do have to label this one. It's fiction, folks. follow the link for more info about Freygish.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Music Video Monday

So the Grogger's lead singer is moving west...

And while we're sharing music videos... here's an oldie, but goodie... SoCalled and Theo Bikel rock Belz!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

From The Mailbag...

Gil writes:
Speaking of "Peeps"...How about the singer who checks his e-mail while performing? I recently saw it repeatedly at a wedding.

Joi writes:

I’m composing some Jewish ‘folk’ music with a Klezmer flavor. What’s a good piano rhythm pattern for the left hand to get a sense of the dance-like qualities of Klezmer? – My tendency is to fall into a latin rhythm, which I don’t want. Thanks for your ideas.
I'd suggest listening to a lot of klezmer, and copping those rhythms. There are also some published piano arrangements like the Kammen folios and even the New York Times' "Great Songs of the Yiddish Theater" that would be good references to check out for sample piano accompaniments. However, there is no shortcut for listening to the music, and checking out how it was/is played by the pros.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I Hope He Was Paid Well For This...

Some lyrics shouldn't be re-used.

No Hora!

Gary Sernovitz does not want to dance the hora at his wedding. Oh, but he will. Bwahahaha!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Not To "Veyn"

Poor-quality video of Guns N' Roses performing Hatikvah and "Don't Cry" in Tel Aviv. Updated: Corrected G'N'R song title. Thanks, Leon!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Still More Peeps...

"The Loser"

This peep is an interesting one. Someone will come over to the bandstand with a pair of car keys. A few minutes later, the "Loser" is there to claim them. A bit later, a cell phone is turned in to the bandstand. Guess who it beings to? That's right! The "Loser" is soon back to claim it too. A little later, he's back asking if anyone turned in a wallet...

"At Least He Goes To Minyan"

This peep breaks his teeth on the bracha he's honored with at Sheva Brachos. When he gets to the end, he confidently finishes it off "... Yotzer Hame'oros."

"The Repeater"

This scintillating character is invited to speak. Invariably he (for some reason, this offender is always male) will say something like "the next part of my speech was said twice already, but since no one listens to speeches, I can say it again." Then, he'll repeat a Torah thought that has already been shared by a previous speaker or two. For extra credit, he may point this out again after he speaks, as in "maybe you'll hear that thought another six times tonight, if you listen to the rest of the speeches."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Hercules KS400B Keyboard Stand

Following up on my review of the Quik-Lok Monolith keyboard stand....

The next keyboard stand on my "demo list", the Hercules KS400B, arrived today.

Amazon has it here:

What attracted me to this stand was the neatly compact way it folds, as well as the simple, easy to adjust features, enabling it to be raised/lowered and widened/narrowed quickly. This is probably the most compact keyboard stand I've seen, when folded. The adjustable latches, grips, etc. are super-easy to use. As with the Monolith, no one local seems to stock this one, so I had to order it on spec.

Despite it's specs on paper, this one is a disappointment, as when its raised to standing height, the keyboard rocks and sways while being played. This seems to be inherent in the design, and so I can't recommend this stand for musicians who play standing up. The "give" is simply unacceptable. Since I do often play standing, this one is being sent back ASAP. I had anticipated taking it on a few gigs this coming week, but it is simply unusable for playing while standing, so there's no point.

The stand does work for playing while seated, but all things considered, I'd say the the Monolith is a better choice for my purposes.

Amazon has the Monolith here.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Quik-Lok Monolith Keyboard Stand

This season, I've been exploring keyboard stand options. For many years, I used an Ultimate Support Apex stand. Ultimate Support used to have great customer service, but in recent years, my experience has been less positive. One of the support arms on my Apex broke at a gig a while back, and when Ultimate quoted me $60 to replace it, I decided to try some other stands, to see if they might better serve then the Apex, which I had some other issues with (see below).

My most recent experiment has been with the Quik-lok Monolith single-tier stand, which I've used for most of my gigs this season. Amazon has the stand here.


Before I share my thoughts on this stand, here, in no particular order, are the features I'd like to see in a keyboard stand.

1) Reliability
2) Portability - needs to fold into an easily transportable shape.
3) Design - looks good/presents well on stage.
4) Able to easily adjust height for playing while sitting or standing. (up to 36" high)
5) Does not obstruct my view of the audience
6) Cable management - allows for cables to be made unobtrusive to the audience
7) Wide enough to support 76 and 88 key keyboards.
8) Stable - no rocking, swaying, or bouncing.
9) Accessories (if any are available) that make sense/work as advertised.
10) Small footprint
11) Room for proper positioning of foot pedals
12) Not too heavy
13) Leave room for the player's legs while seated, so they won't be pressed up against a crossbar.
14) A carrying case.

It is surprising to me that no one seems to make a stand that fits all of these criteria. (It's also surprising that most local stores do not carry any of the more interesting stand options, like the Monolith, necessitating ordering on spec. Since these stands are heavy, it's not generally worth returning them, as it can cost $40 or so in shipping.) Most stores carry the Apex, and some variations of X-stands, all of which are less then ideal, due to all of the weight being focused onto the retaining pin, which can easily collapse.

To illustrate, my old Apex stand failed in the following ways.

1) It was less stable than I would have liked. Especially when playing outdoors on grass etc.
2)The mic boom attachment picked up keyboard noise and amplified it.
3) The keyboard would bounce/shake when played hard, or when an 88 key board was used.
4) The feet made it impossible to place pedals in ideal position.
5) With time, I started to feel like it was a barrier between me and the audience. My current preference is for a more "open" feeling setup.

After using the Quik-lok Monolith on quite a few gigs (it's been a busy season), here are my thoughts.

1) This stand is simply the most stable keyboard stand I've played, and I've tried quite a few. Unless I actively try to get some swaying going while playing, the keyboard stays solidly in place on the stand. And even if I try to make it sway, the give is minimal and totally playable.

2) It is relatively easy to adjust the height, making it possible to say, play a cocktail hour and wedding ceremony while seated and then raise the stand to play for dancing.

3) It looks good visually. However, to me it looks better (more visually balanced design-wise)  in seated position that when raised for standing. In either position, it feels open.

4) It folds easily/simply for moving on offstage, but does not fold into a convenient form for carting around. If I needed a house stand at a venue, and be able to store it nearby and move it on and offstage as needed, I'd highly recommend the Monolith. However, for moving in/out of cars, loading on carts, etc. the Monolith is less than ideal. It folds into an awkward shape that does not balance well on a cart, it is wider than most doors, and the legs don't lock closed, so they tend to swing open while you are lift in/carrying the stand.

5) There is no cable management system with the stand, and its open design means that all of the cables coming out of the back of your board are visible and disorganized. It's possible to snake them along your keyboard and the legs, but that takes some doing and a lot of jury-rigging. On the Apex, this was a non-issue, because the column hid cables easily.

6) There is plenty of leg room, for playing while seated and for positioning pedals properly. No worries about banging your knee or shin here.

7) There are no accessories available, apart from an optional second tier for another keyboard.

8) The stand is solid, and heavy, but not too heavy to lift/carry.

Boottom line, I wouldn't recommend the Monolith for a gigging musician who needs to move the stand between venues, frequently in/out of cars, etc. as I did this season. It makes for occasionally awkward load-ins. However, if you're looking for a solid keyboard stand that is very stable and looks good for home or studio use, or for a permanent installation, the Quik-lok Monolith is well worth a look.

I kind of wish they'd shaped it a bit differently, so that it'd sit on a cart for easy transport and fit through doorways. (And so that it could be put in a case.) Also, that they'd put a lock on the legs so that they could be locked closed for travel. Perhaps Quik-lok will make an updated tweaked version. If so, I'd likely give it another shot. For now, my Monolith will be used for the nome studio and the very occasional gig, where the load-in and visual needs of the gig make it sensible to use.

In the meantime, I'm going to order another stand none of the local dealers carry.... probably the Hercules KS400B which I have no experience with and which I haven't been able to find locally.

Amazon has that one here:

To sum up:

The Monolith is a great looking choice for either a home studio setup, or a stage setting where the stand needs to be moved on/off stage often. It's easy to adjust and VERY stable, with plenty of room for proper placement of pedals. I would highly recommend it for those uses.

However, it is not portable for constant gigging  because it folds to an odd shape that does not easily stack on my Rack N Roller cart in a way that will fit through that average doorway. Also, it doesn't lock closed when folded, which is not a big issue when moving it a short distance, but is again a pain when loading in/out of the typical club-date venues.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Peeps

It's been a very busy season.. Here are some peeps for y'all!

"The Queer Mashgiach"
We've met this guy a bunch at gigs and mentioned him before.
This convo was too good to pass up...
QM: "I see you know all the pretty Jewish songs. Do you know standards too? Starts singing "Summertime".
DM: [starts comping]
QM: "Hi! That's a lovely color on you. That dress is fabulous! Is it cranberry? It looks cranberry to me."
QM: "Summertime, and the living is easy..."
We can't make this stuff up!

"Balbelili Guy"
This peep won't just do the slow song he's been asked to sing, because "I'm not just the slow song guy". So, after plowing through a slow song, he sings a medley of the choruses of Balbeli Oto and Yalili, switching back and forth between the two as though they were the A and B of one song.

"The Sheet Music Helper"
This peep comes over during the dance set, and decides to helpfully pick up the discarded piece of sheet music on the bandstand floor and hand it to us. (It was the fanfare, which we've already played.) Never mind the fact that we're reading another chart, and have not indicated in any way that we want to be handed this music. When we say that we do not need it and that it's ok for him to just leave it on the floor, he simply can't accept this, continuing to attempt to get our attention, and show us where he's putting it down on a chair near the bandstand.

"The Attendance Monitor"
This peep monitors the bandstand, noting and commenting if any musician is not on the bandstand while the band is playing. This self-appointed peep wants to know "where the 2nd guitar player went", for instance. (Actual question). We're tempted to tell him exactly which stall in the bathroom he's in.

"The Mind-Changer"
This peep is special. They meet with you before the event, discuss repertoire, requests, etc. and all is cool. Then, at the event, they change everything on you. When the "mind-changer" is the mother (in-law) and these last minute changes conflict with the bride's plans, look for some sparks to fly.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Lipa @ The Forward

Ezra Glinter writes "My Lipa Schmeltzer Problem, and Ours". That's more like it.

Analyzing Lipa's Video

Over at the Forward, Josh Nathan-Kazis posts "Lipa Schmeltzer's Uncanny Valley." I don't agree with much of what he writes, but any article that includes the following sentence deserves a mention here. "If Avraham Fried is Elmer Fudd, vaguely nodding towards mainstream pop, Schmeltzer’s “Hang Up The Phone” is the Japanese robot, down at the valley’s spookiest depths."

From the mailbag...

R' David ben Yosef Goldin writes about Marc Shapiro on Kol Isha:
Mr. Shapiro: "So now I ask my fair-minded readers: Is Artscroll’s statement that Metzudat Tziyon translates שרים ושרות as “singers” accurate? I think the answer is clearly “no”. Metzudat Tziyon translates the words in question as “male singers and female singers,” and yet—don’t tell me you are surprised—in Artscroll this morphs into “singers”. Why would Artscroll fudge the translation? The answer is obvious. They don’t want people to think that Solomon would have listened to women singing."

Your lack of erudition and bias is outstanding. The English word "singers" certainly implies "male and female singers". It is not exclusively male. It is however plural, which is significant to refute your groundless conclusion. There is no objection in halacha to listening to a group of women singing, especially if their voices are combined with those of men singing. This is based on the Talmudic principle of tre kali mi mishtame'ah. Thus, there is absolutely no reason for Artscroll (or anyone else) to not want "people to think that Solomon would have listened to women singing". Perhaps Artscroll's citation of the M"T is incomplete, but it is not inaccurate or misleading --- except perhaps to he/she who wishes to be mislead.

Methinks the rabbi needs to work on his reading comprehension. He simply has no point.

As well, his misrepresentation of the acceptance of the principal of "trei kali" (which he misquotes; that third word should be "lo") is pure apologetics and not reflective of actual practice in "Chareidi Artscroll-ville", where women are not heard singing in mixed company, with the possible exception of Shabbos zemiros among some (perceived) lenient families.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Miami Boys Choir Siyum Hashas Video

This is just painful. It starts with a poor translation of the Gemara and goes downhill from there.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Visualize Whirled Peas

Thrown Peas posts "Good News from the Yiddish World", a nice roundup of Yiddish happenings, including music, with video examples.

Long Time Passing

A seventeen year-old composer shares his thoughts on the state of Jewish music. Cute 'graf:
At this point, it is almost over. The greats are nearing their ends, new artists with mediocre voices and a lot of money come and go every other week, the actual talent can’t afford to produce because no one buys albums anymore: people just rip, burn, download and steal; the artists lose piles of money. Wedding introductions and interludes are all non-Jewish anyway, and not to clean songs. What will be with wedding music, you ask? We have enough songs with Freilach and Hora beats to last us for a week-long wedding. Anyway, with what weddings have become, (concerts with food), no one dances anyway! Everyone just stands around the bandstand watching and videoing, until the kalla’s father realizes that his hiring that famous singer for the extra couple of thousand didn’t enhance his simcha, it ruined it!...

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Pop Goes The Chassid!

When Judaism Becomes A Drug.

From the mailbag...

Joshua writes:
Love your blog. Since you sometimes discuss non-Jewish origins of Jewish songs, could I ask you a question? I recall that one of Avraham Fried's ballads from a semi-recent album was a direct copy of a contemporary (French?) pop song. Do you know what I'm referring to?
I'm not aware of Avraham Fried lifting a French song. Perhaps you're thinking of MBD. He rewrote the English version of "Daddy Dear", which was originally a French song called L'Homme Et L'Enfant

L'Homme Et L'Enfant

Little Child (Daddy Dear)

MBD version

Falling Off The (Band)Wagon

Over at the 5 Towns Jewish Times, Rabbi Yair Hoffman writes An Open Letter to Matisyahu. Meh.

Nice Move, Madonna!

Madonna invites her Israeli warm-up act to open concert in Istanbul.

Playing Gay Weddings

Over at Fink or Swim... A Suggestion for Orthodox Jewish Political Activists Regarding Same Sex Marriage.

Check this:
But in the end, wouldn’t it be better if religious vendors were able to set aside their personal beliefs for the sake of civility and friendship? I mean, there is no prohibition that I am aware of in orthodox Judaism that would prevent a photographer from working a gay wedding. There is no problem for a tailor to hem a gown or cuff some pants for a gay wedding either. So I guess what I am saying is that while I respect religious beliefs very much, I don’t believe that one’s religious beliefs are sufficient cause to discriminate. To be clear, I am not talking about a member of the clergy performing a ceremony that does not even exist in his or her religion. I am referring to vendors who are uncomfortable working a gay ceremony. There is a difference. I don’t think anyone would expect a member of the clergy be required to perform a nonexistent ceremony. But there is no direct parallel to religious vendors.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

8th Day "All You Got" Preview

Check this! A preview of 8th Day's forthcoming album.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In Review – Milken Archive of American Jewish Music – Great Songs of the Yiddish Stage

Founded by Lowell Milken, the Milken Archive's goal is: record, preserve and disseminate the music that has and will continue to emerge from the unique confluence of Jews reconnecting from across the Diaspora to the freedom of America. Over the three-and-a-half centuries since Jews first arrived on these shores, the sacred and secular body of work that has developed provides a powerful means of expressing the multilayered saga of American Jewry. At the same time, this music reflects a remarkable universality of the immigrant and broader human experience.
This three CD set is a compilation of songs from the legendary American Yiddish theater. The first disc focuses on Abraham Ellstein, the second on Sholom Secunda and Alexander Olshanetsky, and the third on Joseph Rumshinsky. Each disc also includes select songs from other songwriters of their circle,.

The music on all three albums is performed by the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Elli Jaffe, with a handful of tracks played by the Barcelona Symphony. The singers on this collection are Robert Abelson, Bruce Adler, Robert Bloch, Joanne Borts, Amy Goldstein, Benzion Miller, Elizabeth Shammash, Nell Snaidas, and Simon Spiro, all of who are excellent here. In the main, these are solo features, but there is the occasional duet as well.

In many cases, there are no extant scores (and perhaps never were) full orchestrations of these tunes. For this project, the Milken Archive hired reconstruction orchestrators to create historically considered orchestrations. The results are quite good. The primary focus here, as with most songs from musicals, is the lyrics, and so the arrangements stay in the background, for the most part, tastefully accompanying the well-chosen vocalists.

The material presented includes a nice cross-section of songs, and a listen to this series gives an excellent overview of Yiddish Theater music.

The songs presented touch on subjects like Jewish guilt in “A Brivele Der Mamen”, and pro-worker/anti-capitalism sentiment in“Fifty-Fifty” and “Dir A Nikl, Mir A Nikl”. There’s love in “Oygn” and “Oy, Mame, Bin Ikh Farlibt”, pathos in “Der Dishvasher”, longing for the shtetl in “Slutsk”, and optimism for life in America in “Lebn Zol Kolumbus”. Naturally, there’s humor in songs like “A Malke Af Peysekh” and “Ikh Bin A “Boarder” Bay Mayn Vayb”. There are even mussar-laden songs like “Watch Your Step” and “Oyb S’iz Geven Gut Far Mayn Mamen”, as well as a liturgical setting of “Hamavdil”

My grandmother’s husband, a longtime Yiddish editor and writer, is fond of reminiscing about the music of the Yiddish theater, which in his day was considered heresy for a young Chasid to listen to. “A mohlige apikorsim” he muses, pointing out how even the largely secular Yiddish theater was able to produce passionate music rich with pride and faith in the Jewish people. He is wont to cite lyrics from “Dos Pintele Yid” which is not included in this collection, but the same holds true for songs like Meyerowitz's "Got Un Zayn Mishpet Iz Gerekht", performed here by Robert Abelson, Rumshinsky’s “Shma Yisro'el” and Secunda's "Dos Yidishe Lid", both performed here by Benzion Miller.

These albums come with incredibly detailed liner notes, which include background information about the songs and the shows the songs came from. Translations of the lyrics are provided as well. The jackets do not provide the original Yiddish lyrics, but those are available for download from The Milken Archive website. It takes a bit of looking around, as each song has its own page, but you can find them on the website. I’d have liked to see one page with all of the Yiddish lyrics, including the text typeset in Yiddish as well as transliteration.

It’s hard to narrow it down, but fave tracks include Bruce Adler’s turn on “Hudl Mitn Strudel” (which features David Krakauer on clarinet), his exuberant rendition of Kanapoff’s “Hu-Tsa-Tsa” with terrific comedic timing, Joanne Borts’s peppy “Watch Your Step”, Simon Spiro’s take on “Vos Iz Geven Iz Geven Un Nito” and Robert Abelson’s somber singing on “Got Un Zayn Mishpot Iz Gerekht” and Benzion Miller’s presentation of “Dos Yidishe Lid”.

Amazon has the discs here:

Volume one:

Volume two:

Volume three:

Up next, a review of clarinetist Aaron Novik's "Secrets of Secrets" release on Tzadik.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Post Asifa Suggestion

I haven't written about the anti-internet asifa held this past Sunday at Citifield. There has been lots of talk about it online. One thing that is clear from both the "pro" and "anti" sides is that one event "raising awareness" about the internet is not enough. More practical steps need to be taken.

In the absence of realistic proposals from the leadership at the asifa, I humbly propose that Jewish musicians step into the breach and help increase awareness by playing the following song at every wedding they play this season. It's the perfect ballroom opener, it works as a chupa song for the little kids to walk down to, and it can fit in a dance set too...

Oh, one thing. Since it is on the internet, it goes without saying that this link is inappropriate. You've been warned!

Aaron Razel: Yeshiva Bochur

Play that funky music, yeshiva boy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In Honor of Yiddish

The Shira Choir sings a R' Shlomo Kalish composition! Check this clip!

From the mailbag...

Dovid Kerner writes:
Sometime between Naphtali Imber and Neshama, I too lifted the melody of La Mantovana and set it to some words I put together. Here's "Hills of Yerushalayim". Yom Yerushalayim Sameach!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As Expected

Avraham Fried shares his inspiration (and the source) for the lyrics to the song R’ Kaneivsky was asked about.

So, what did the people who shlepped Rav Kanievsky into this achieve?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Heeb: Oy Vey, Y-Love is Gay

Mandatory Heeb coverage.

More On Frum Songs....

E. comments on More Music Questions for Rav Kanievsky...

I don't know about Rav Kanievsky, but we did have a few rabbeim in high school who got very angry and agitated when they heard a few boys singing "Avrohom and Yitzchak will be there to greet us, Yaakov and his sons will stand by and smile...." "REALLY? WHO SAID??!?! WHO SAID?! Some singer? Some entertainer? Some fat oizvarf with a microphone?"

But what I really wanna know is, how can Mama Rochel cry for us again when the day will come that she raises her sweet voice, if she was truly laid to rest on the roadside forever?

Oh and on that note, something which has bothered be for decades: "Never will i be alone, with his help i can stand on my own." Make up your friggin' mind, buddy.

I'm glad Rav Kanievksy clarified that tears thing. I always wondered how the bricks would function descending in fire if they were wet.

I can safely say that there is no 'frum' pop lyric that has bothered me for decades.

More On Frum Songs....

E. comments on More Music Questions for Rav Kanievsky...

I don't know about Rav Kanievsky, but we did have a few rabbeim in high school who got very angry and agitated when they heard a few boys singing "Avrohom and Yitzchak will be there to greet us, Yaakov and his sons will stand by and smile...." "REALLY? WHO SAID??!?! WHO SAID?! Some singer? Some entertainer? Some fat oizvarf with a microphone?"

But what I really wanna know is, how can Mama Rochel cry for us again when the day will come that she raises her sweet voice, if she was truly laid to rest on the roadside forever?

Oh and on that note, something which has bothered be for decades: "Never will i be alone, with his help i can stand on my own." Make up your friggin' mind, buddy.

I'm glad Rav Kanievksy clarified that tears thing. I always wondered how the bricks would function descending in fire if they were wet.

I can safely say that there is no 'frum' pop lyric that has bothered me for decades.

Y-Love Comes Out

Out magazine reports that "Y-Love is Ready for Love."   Guest starring Yoeli Weishauss. I hope he got paid enough to go visit his grandmother a few times.

More Music Questions for Rav Kanievsky

Psachya writes:
Now that we have received an unambiguous psak from R' Chaim Kanievsky shlita that the third Beis Hamikdash will not be built with tears - Avrohom Fried's lyrics to the contrary - I have a few more pressing shailos that I hope R' Kanievsky will address. Perhaps some of his askanim, who are so careful not to waste a gadol's precious time, would be kind enough to run them by him:

- Will we really be free if we have just one Shabbos?

- Are we only supposed to not talk and just daven for our tefilos to reach Hashem, or are we also supposed to go "sh, sh"? In rhythm?

- Do we really have to throw away our hammer every erev Shabbos? Particularly in this economy? (Maybe we should make a takana about that...)

- Are you even allowed to have a minyan in the back of a hardware store?

- Should we really teach our children to treat their fellow friends like they were you? What if you're not a very nice person?

- Why would an eagle want to get into a fight with a bunch of vultures anyway?

- What is the punishment for saying "She-T'hei La-Mazal" to an Ashkenazi?

- Can we finally start selling Jerusalem once the Mormons all go back to Utah? And finally, the most important question of all -

- Did the flame of Torah really flicker on the day that the soldiers rushed in to the dark frigid cellar and led away the small group of men? And why are we required to sing the chorus of that song at every single Jewish wedding?

I await R' Kanievsky's psak regarding these pressing issues. The fate of Klal Yisroel hangs in the balance.

A Nigun With Class!

Learn the Pilpul Nigun.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Kars for What?

Over at Hamavdil, Chaim Bray takes on Oorah in עורה-עורה שפלותי and "Stuff One No-Account Blogger Says About Oorah." Indeed.

Y-Studa Acapella

Received a couple of emails from various Y-studs asking me to post their video... Here it is... I don't get it. I mean I do... but I don't... know what I mean?

Neshoma Courts Controversy

Neshama Carlebach releases a new version of Hatikva  to be more inclusive to Israeli Arabs.  She also posted a non-statement to her Facebook page:
Friends, I know many of you have been waiting for me to make a personal statement about situation around this version of Hatikva. I haven't yet responded deeply and publicly about my own pro-Israel beliefs and have so wanted to. The wait has only been due to my large (and incredible) Team (everyone is involved and helping to create it) and my new Publicity Team needing to approve all that is released. Thank you for your patience, I hope to post my video statement over the next day. I love you all, thank you for being there and for believing in me and in my quest for goodness.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ki Lo Noa!

Achinoam Nini under fire for comments on Israel.

From the mailbag....

Psachya writes:
I enjoyed the video you posted on Joey Weisenberg's "table-top rhythms" for Shabbos singing. The guy is obviously a wonderful musician. At the same time, the video got me thinking: When does a tabletop cease being a tabletop and become a musical instrument - halachically speaking? And what's the difference between playing intricate rhythms on a shtender or on, say, a djembe?

Now I know the answer people will give me for my second question - because a djembe is specifically made as a musical instrument, whereas a table-top is more of a "found object". (I believe Mr. Weisenberg even used that term in the video.) However, I think the idea of something being a "found object" does not necessarily preclude it from being a musical instrument. Lots of fine music has been performed on, and composed for, found objects. Just ask Harry Partch. Or the cast of "Stomp".

Some might say that, to be a musical instrument, it needs to have the ability to be tuned. Two problems. One - there are plenty of indisputably musical instruments - a tamborine, say, or cymbals - that are not particularly tunable. On the other hand, as we saw in the video, it's possible to alter the sound of a shtender by putting pieces of paper on it, or putting things inside. How is that not tuning?

Another possible answer is that it has to be specifically set aside (muktzah) for the purpose of making music. Again, it seems to me that by sound-testing the "found objects" in advance (as he did in the video), perhaps Mr. Weisenberg is, essentially, "preparing" his found objects, thus making them "mezuman" to be musical instruments on Shabbos.

Again, I enjoyed the video - it was quite entertaining, and I hope I'm wrong in my speculations. But we're talking potential chilul Shabbos here, and we have to be careful. And as a habitual zemiros table-tapper myself, I may find myself sitting on my hands this Friday night.

Just some food for thought.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Shabbos Music

Just because... Yedid Nefesh with the original text.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Funny, That's Not How Chassidim Do It!

Over at On the Main Line: A description of the 'Mitzvah Tanz' circa 1600.

Credit Where Credit's Due

It's neat how Cole Porter deftly quotes Miami Boys Choir's "To Live A Life of Torah" in "My Heart Belongs to Daddy"from "Leave It To Me." [/sarcasm] No, I don't think Begun ripped it. It's just one of those coincidences like "Blue Bossa" and the A section of Avraham Fried's "Livinyomin Omar."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh, Lipa!

So the first song preview of Lipa's forthcoming album is out... I imagine this tune will be popular on the Brooklyn simcha circuit, and so I'll wind up having to learn it and play it. Lipa is so frustrating... so much talent... and then he produces this drek... but it'll sell... I love his approach, his creativity, his energy, the depth of some of his Yiddish lyrics... but this stuff... it just leaves me cold.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kiss My Klezmer!

Here's a Klezmer suite in tribute to Chaim Witz... Chaim: The Music-Maker - The Rise of Gene Simmons The clarinet soloist is David Krakauer.

Drake: Good for the Jews?

Ronn Torossian says yes. Check out the comment by A. E. Anderson for an opposing take.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bruce Springstein: Greatest Bar Mitzvah Bandleader of All Time

According to Max Weinberg... the whole interview is at The Arty Semite.

And yes, I know how he spells his name.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rewriting 'Hatikvah'

Over at the Forward, Philologos wants to rewrite 'Hatikvah'. The commentors don't agree.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Downloading Accurate Sheet Music

I was asked to sing a wedding song by a fairly well-known chassidic singer at an upcoming wedding. The tune is not one that is typically played at weddings. I downloaded the chart from the artist's website and, surprise (not really) the chart is wrong. Is it unreasonable to expect that an artist make sure the sheet music on his site is accurate?


Over at Teruah:  #NoseJobGate - The Groggers and Plastic Surgery Disasters

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3/13/12 Link Dump - Tasteless edition

I warned you... The Making of TRIGGER's "FART EXPANSION" Pack - YouTube

Jello Biafra on Al Jazeera: Caught in the crossfire: Should musicians boycott Israel?

One has to wonder if anyone reads JM PR before publishing it. The most recent example here: New CD: Pesach in Yerushalayim with Chilik Frank

Over at the Arty Semite, it's Monday Music: Rap for Rabbis

Finally, E. emails a link to yet another story about non-profit JM producers Oorah: Children's Charity Loses Millions on Real Estate  What a chilul Hashem!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Purim Headlines 2012

Once again, it's time for some Purim news headlines you're not likely to see anywhere else this year.

The Groggers Hired To Perform At The Siyum HaShas

MBD Retires

Avraham Fried To Release Collection Of American Standards

Airmont Shul To Open Franchises Worldwide

Frum Dub-Step Artist Tops Electronica Charts

Rabbi Nosson Slifkin Appointed To Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah

Frum Child Molestor Reported To Police By Rabbi

Frum Song With Intelligent Non-Cheesy English Lyrics A Pop Sensation In Brooklyn

Maccabeats Tapped To Sing Backup On New Eminem Album

NYC HASC/Ohel Concerts Announced: Lineup Will Not Include Lipa, Shwekey, Avraham Fried, or Eighth Day

New Deborah Feldman Book "ReOrthodox" On NY Times Best-Seller List.

Rabbi Avremel Schorr Launches Chain Of Internet Cafés

Most Talented Contestant Wins "A Jewish Star" Competition

New Wedding Takanos Limit Chupa Processions To Choson and Kalla Only

Mormons Posthumously Convert Golem of Prague - Jewish Community Outraged Launches Three New Websites: Big Lakewood, Big Satmar, and Big Skver

Novominsker Rebbe Joins Facebook

Shmuley Boteach Apologizes; Withdraws "Kosher Jesus" Book

Lakewood Rabbis Ban Chavrusah Tumult; Urge Bochurim To "Just Grow Up Already"

Jewish Week Wins Communal Praise For Exposé On MO Abusive Rabbi

Rabbis Ban Boys Choirs On Tznius Grounds - Sounds Too Much Like Kol Isha

Friday, March 02, 2012

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Marc Shapiro on Kol Isha

Marc Shapiro on Artscroll misrepresentations and Kol Isha...

Here's a taste:
Eccl. 2:8 states: .עשיתי לי שרים ושרות

What does this mean? The simple explanation is that the author, traditionally Solomon, is telling us about all the wonderful things he amassed with which to enjoy himself, and among them are “men singers and women singers.” Artscroll translates the passage as “I provided myself with various musical instruments.” Now this might be an apologetic translation, but if so, it is not Artscroll that is to be too criticized, but the Talmud, Gittin 68a, since according to Rashi this is how the Talmud explains the words.[11] Artscroll is obviously within its rights to adopt this understanding, even if one assumes that this explanation is not in accord with the simple sense of the verse.

The problem comes with the next passage in the Artscroll commentary which states: “Rav Yosef Kara, Alshich, Metzudas Zion and others translate ‘singers.’” I will get to Kara and Alshich shortly, but let’s begin with Metzudat Tziyon, since this is easiest for most people to access as it appears in the Mikraot Gedolot. He writes as follows:

שרים: משוררים זכרים. ושרות: משוררות נקבות

So now I ask my fair-minded readers: Is Artscroll’s statement that Metzudat Tziyon translates שרים ושרות as “singers” accurate? I think the answer is clearly “no”. Metzudat Tziyon translates the words in question as “male singers and female singers,” and yet—don’t tell me you are surprised—in Artscroll this morphs into “singers”. Why would Artscroll fudge the translation? The answer is obvious. They don’t want people to think that Solomon would have listened to women singing.
Read the whole thing! Fascinating stuff.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Diaspora Yeshiva Band video sale

Today's J-Deal is the "Diaspora Live on Mt. Zion" video plus Avraham Rosenblum's last album, "Kedem."

Avraham's son Mo sent me the video a while back, and it's been on my review pile for a while. The video documents the Diaspora Yeshiva Band at its peak. Well worth it for historical value, especially if you're interested in Jewish roots music with a folk/rock esthetic.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

I Don't Mind Posting This Video

Kohane of Newark emails a link to their new video...

Monday, February 06, 2012

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Bad PR

If the PR about the production costs on this is true... this is is a huge waste of money.

Yiddish Disco

Teruah is back with a great post on the Jewrhyhtmics.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1/25/12 Link Dump

Mastering explained in 44 Seconds.

I've written a bit about Oorah in the past. Well, there's not good news and more not good news. Raises some more questions about their CD "releases".

Finally, here's a helpful guide to rock drumming.

Time for More Peeps

"The Yekke"

Just got off the phone with a yekke (German-Jewish) client who hired me for an upcoming event. He booked me for three hours from precisely 6:20 to 9:20. I told him I don't mind giving an extra few minutes until the party ends at 9:30, but he insisted that a three hour booking mean exactly three hours.

"The Foodie Waiter"
Offers us soup. Comes back 10 minutes later with another bowl to say "I gave you the wrong one. Try the squash soup, it's much better!"

"The Fat Couple"

These overweight peeps stroll past the bandstand on the way out. The caterer has helpfully placed a shelf unit full of deserts right next to the band. As they pass it, and keep going, the wife looks longingly back at the display. "You don't need that!" says the husband. They continue on towards the door, until, in one swift maneuver, the wife does a 180, heads straight for the shelves and grabs an eclair. Whereupon, the husband looks at us, shrugs, heads over to the shelves, and downs an eclair whole. Sated (for the moment) the two exit stage left.

"The Color Commentator"

This guest stakes out a place against the wall near the band. Casually leaning, he provides color commentary to an imaginary audience, about all of the guests entering the room. Sample quote: "Hehey! Captain Homo is here! Oy!

"The Roach Observer"

This peep handles janitorial services. When the bandleader arrives to set up and notices a dead roach in the middle of the band's space, he points it out to this guy. "Yeah!" The peep laconically responds. "He's still moving a bit. I been watching him all afternoon!" Naturally, it doesn't occur to him to remove said roach until specifically asked to do so. For fun, here's a pic of said hypothetical roach.

"The Cheapskate"

This peep will come up to the band at an affair and inquire about a date in the immediate future, say within the week or so. The sole concern is price, and their budget is not realistic. Sample inquiry/offer: "I'm running a singles event next Sun. I'm expecting 100 or so people. Can you come play for the first half hour of socializing and then the last hour of desert. I don't need you to play for two and a half hours in between. I can offer $100 and you'll get exposure."

"Bathroom Phone Call Dude"
A word to the wise. If you're a waiter skipping out on the gig for a few minutes to make a romantic call to your girlfriend, a center stall in the bathroom is not the place to go. Even if you're not actively using the bathroom, the folks on either side of you sure will be. The constant bathroom noises -- urinals flushing etc. -- will not be conducive for romantic talk. Not to mention the fellow who just had too many tacos at the buffet, and who is now in the next stall...

"The Hapless Sound Tech"
We're setting up to play at a dinner, and there's a sound tech next to us setting up a wireless mic/speaker for speeches. "I can't get it working", he complains loudly. "It was working fine yesterday." After a couple of complaints, we take a look. He's got the wireless mic switched on, the portable powered speaker switched on, but no receiver and he had nothing connected to the speaker inputs. Um, think that might be the problem right there?

"The Demanding Client"
We need music now! We know you just played for over an hour straight and there's a long dance set coming up right after this short video presentation. But, our audio isn't working, so we need you to put down your dinner plate and come play background music for the video. No break for you! Oh, and we'll hit you at the end of the gig with the "Check Bearer"

"The Check Bearer"
This peep works for the organization hosting the event. He is not the contact person you've dealt with before/at the event. His sole job is to bring the check to the gig, and hold it all night (in case you don't play appropriate background music?). This peep inevitably leaves before the event is over, without handing over the check. It will take at least a week before you receive said check in the mail.

"Get On With It"
This peep, a parent guesting at the end-of-year senior dinner will not put up with the school administrator's bloviating. When said adminstrator, after a long and meaningless intro, announces that he will not proceed until there is absolute silence in the room (some students were whispering), this peep shouts out: "Get On With It!" It took the flustered admin 20 minutes to recover, and things moved quicker after that.

"Mrs. Dropped Skirt"
Ladies, a word to the wise. If you've lost weight or have an issue with the clasp on your skirt, you might not want to wear it for dancing at a wedding! Just saying!

"Can't We All Just Get Along?"
Played a wedding where there were four separated seating sections, each walled off by mechitzos. One for men, one for women, and two for mixed seating, separated by side, since there was a divorce in the family and apparently his & her relatives/family members could not be seated in view of each other. So sad.

"The Trailer Park Chupa"
Played a backyard chupa, where the host decided it would be a good idea to decorate the yard in trailer park style. Seriously. They brought in a Port-a-Potty, which was so not needed. Then, they "decorated" the potty by hanging old flowered bedsheets from clotheslines around it. The day-long rain didn't help, things. Neither, did the yellow and blue striped tent they had installed for the chupa. Or the handmade "exit" signs they felt compelled to add to the white tent the cocktails were in...