Monday, December 02, 2013

Now I understand...

...why he was asked to speak at the Agudah convention.

"Zumba will become pole [dancing] and pole will become prostitution."

Over at FrumSatire: "Nothing like a good racist video about being tznius."

From the mailbag... "The Lachatz Song"

From the mailbag...

DJ Kornerstone writes:
I recently made a new song called Lachatz. It was put on YouTube a few days ago. I would appreciate it tremendously if you guys would post it on your website. Enclosed is a link to the video. Thank you for your consideration.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What A Wreck!

I posted this because of 1:19. Check it!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Eyal Golan Under House Arrest

Over at the Forward...  Fall of Mizrachi Singing Sensation Eyal Golan.


According to the Jerusalem Post's sources, he may not be charged, but his father and manager will be... see here.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Pre Black Friday Music Deals at Amazon

Amazon has started their holiday sales already. Music gear deals can be found here: Shop Amazon - Countdown to Black Friday Deals in Musical Instruments

This one caught my eye. It's a good deal on the M-Audio SP-2 sustain pedal. I'm not a big fan of M-Audio gear, in general, but these pedals are solid, and have polarity switches so they are compatible with all keyboards. I have a couple of them. They are a great choice if you like a substantial feeling sustain pedal. And, unlike the Roland DP pedals, these seem to last. At $12.96, that's a good deal.

M-Audio SP-2 Sustain Pedal with Piano Style Action for Keyboards

Latka Rhymes With Vodka

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Top ways a Kumzits is like sitting Shiva

1) The sitting on the floor
2) Both are emotional
3) Both are painful
4) Both are inevitable

Don't believe me... this clip makes pretty much confirms it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rappin' Breslov

Some About Shlomo

Over at the Seforim Blog...  "Who was Reb Shlomo?"

To find out more, you'll have to buy the book.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dveykus Wants To Be Banned!

No, not the Abie Rotenberg group, the Hasidic Doom Metal band.

From their Noisey interview:
What are Deveykus’ plans for the rest of 2013?
I'd love to figure out a way to play in New York on some kind of show inside the religious community. I think the greatest thing we could ever achieve would be for a Hasidic rabbi to ban us and forbid people to listen to our music for fear of being seduced by the outside world.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is Matisyahu Burning More Bridges?

Frum Satire posted a satire piece titled "Is Matisyahu’s music kosher?"

Check out the last comment in the thread. It allegedly quotes from a BBYO statement after he performed for them.
This past weekend at Fall Kickoff 2013, BBYO ONR brought in guest speaker and Jewish musician Matisyahu. Matisyahu’s music has inspired many Jews and non-Jews alike with his powerful lyrics that reflect Jewish and spiritual themes. Recently, Matisyahu has undergone a transformation in his Jewish identity, and with Kickoff 2013 coinciding with his visit to Cleveland to play at the House of Blues, ONR was presented with the opportunity to provide our teens with a unique experience. By bringing Matisyahu into our community for a speaking engagement, we hoped to explore the theme of the individual Jewish journeys that make up our Jewish identities, as well as the concept of transformative Jewish experiences. The goal was to illustrate to our teens that no matter what you look like on the outside, exploring your personal Jewish journey is a critical piece of understanding your own Jewish identity. Furthermore, the expression of your Jewish identity can come in many forms, including creative expression and popular music.
Unfortunately, however, our guest speaker’s behavior and responses during our program did not reflect our original intent. We were disappointed by the way Matisyahu chose to conduct himself while visiting our community. His references to drugs and his blatant disrespect for the questions presented to him by our teens and staff do not reflect the values of our organization. We were impressed by the maturity of our teens and volunteers who persistently attempted to redirect the conversation in order to gain value from the experience.
Immediately after the speaking engagement with Matisyahu, we provided the participants with the opportunity to hear about the Jewish journeys of others in our community and teens were given the opportunity to share their transformative Jewish experiences. They were also given a forum to reflect and provide feedback about the experience. There was certainly a learning opportunity that presented itself in this situation and again, we were impressed by the maturity and insight of our teens. We hope that through this experience our teens came away with new lessons on integrity, leadership and managing expectations.
Just wow!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ani Chozer Habayta

Oh wait, that's a different song by Ron Eliran. Here's his "Crazy Country America."

Friday, October 04, 2013

From the mailbag...

Shmueli Schwartz emails a link to his website. He's recently released an album titled "Believe." There are audio clips up at his site. YOu can read some more about it here.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

"You Need A Good Shul!"

SWFS Cantor Dan Singer forwards a link to a promo clip for Friday night services at Steven Wise Free Synagogue in NYC.

If you're looking for a Reform Shabbat service/venue to meet Jewish singles, check it out!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Monday, September 09, 2013

What Time Is It?

Time magazine shows it knows nothing about "New Jewish Music!"

‘I’m Sorry, It’s Yom Kippur’

Shmekel  is atoning! [An inapropriate language warning seems kinda redundant, given the band name, but here it is anyway.]

Monday, September 02, 2013

Odeleya Berlin Releases "אחלה-פניו"

In time for the season, klezmer revivalist clarinetist Moussa Berlin's daughter, Odeleya Berlin has released an album, "אחלה-פניו" on Bandcamp.

This is a very worthwhile collection of what sounds like a live performance of a variety of traditional and newer songs, mainly from the Yomim Noraim liturgy. Berlin's strong connection to this music, no surprise given her background, is palpable. Mousa appears here too.

I'd love to see more presentations of this sort of concert. Moving, touching, informative, and experiential, as opposed to the crass commercial presentation one sees too often at concerts presented for the frum community.

Go listen. Then buy it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Geetar So-low!

חדש ששוני performed by Nadav Bachar on guitar. It's a 'pay what you want' download.

Kumzits Mad-Libs

The past number of years, there's been a trend among many frum simcha singers on the NY circuit, in which they sing the choruses of various slow songs over a rock beat at tempo, when ending the last dance set with a Yerusholayim song. So, you might hear the singer segue from "Yerusholayim" into the chorus of "Anovim" or "V'zakeini" or Shwekey's "Im Eshkocheich" or all of those and more, before going back into the tune. There needs to be a name for this. A listener described it to me at one recent event as sounding like "Kumzits Mad-Libs", and I think that's the perfect name.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In Review: Siach Hasadeh

Off the (virtual) review stack...

Yoni Kaston and Joel Kerr's new album, Siach Hasadeh -- Song of the Grasses, features their moving arrangements of old Chasidic nigunim which they perform on clarinet  and bass, often in conjunction with oud, harmonica, or string quartet.

A friend, thinking I'd enjoy this project, had sent me a link to the band's music page, just before Yoni emailed a review link. He was right. I found this recording interesting both in terms of song selection as well as musical approach.

This is rich, introspective music, beautifully arranged and performed. The melodies are largely Breslover nigunim, including both well-known and lesser-known melodies. There is one nigun each from Karlin, Lubavitch, Modzitz, Radishitz, and Tolne, as well as one Sephardic tune, "Agadelcha."

The liner notes include a little bit of background information about the source for each song, which is always nice.

Kaston's sensitive clarinet playing is soulful and tasteful, and the musicianship on the album is excellent. The musicians all communicate nicely throughout,maintaining the spiritual focus of the melodies while at the same time adding their own personal expression. The tracks feature various configurations of the musicians, which makes for nice timbral shifts from track to track. 

Fave tracks include "Niggun Firn Di Tsadikkim In Gan Eyden", which features Jason Rosenblatt's soulful harmonica upfront and some tasteful improvisation mid-way through, Kaston and Kerr's duo version of "Tfilas Tal", and "Tolner Niggun" on which Ismael Fencioglu's oud joins the duo. I transcribed that one to play with the band at the wedding of a member of the Tolner Rebbe's family last week.

"Siach Hasadeh - Song of the Grasses" is a very worthwhile album. Definitely check this one out.

The band's website is here. 

 Amazon has the album here:

Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein: Concert Reviewer

Over at Cross-Currents, Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein (who happens to also be pretty much the only consistently worthwhile read there, reviews the Helfgott-Perlman Hollywood Bowl concert in "Angels At The Hollywood Bowl."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Get Out of Hell Free!

Rebbe Nachman will haul you out by your payes. Details here.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Upon A Star

Over at Tablet... "Orthodox Singing Show --Men Only!"

Recent Peeps

"I'm The Ba(n)dleader"
This peep will hire you t play a family event. He will spend the entire evening micro-managing the music, telling you exactly what songs to play, and when.

He's not concerned with the niceties/conventions of finishing a song before tarting the next one, which songs will work well for dancing, etc. He won't let that stop him. You'll do what he says, when he says it.  Now. Not in three more measures at the end of the tune.

"Sneak Photographer"
This peep will stand near you and snap pictures, but only when she thinks you're not looking. Whenever you look at her, she'll avoid eye contact, and pretend to be checking her phone as she lurks.

"Sheet Music Thief"
This peep wants some sheet music. What better way to get it than to remove an entire dance section from one of the band's binders while the band is on break? Stay classy Mr/Ms thief.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Are eBay and PayPal Evil?

It seems so.

eBay has definitely gone downhill over the past few years.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


In the Forward... "John Zorn Talks Music, Mysticism and the Messiah as He Turns 60."

Here's a taste
“There are many gateways into the Jewish experience. As a creative artist, I say that it is about process — the process of creating something that resonates Jewishly. The necessity of being able to recite the Torah forward and backward is not necessary for the work of creative artists. For me it’s about the process and about learning and questioning along the way. To play with Jewish scales and modes in new ways, to compose about Kristallnacht, to ask the question of what is — and what isn’t — Jewish music: These are the resonances that work for me, and for other musicians who are working in the Jewish experience."
Go and read!

Songs In The Keys Of Life

Over at BET... "Israel’s Detractors Must Stop Politicizing Art."

Monday, July 29, 2013

קלעזמער־מוזיק בליט אין ישׂראל

Over at the Yiddish Forward... "קלעזמער־מוזיק בליט אין ישׂראל"

Off the Review Stack...

"Hear, O Israel - A Benefit Compilation From the Artists of the 4th Annual Boston Jewish Music Festival."

This disc is a fundraiser for the Boston Jewish Music Festival, and features seventeen tracks contributed by artists who participated in the 2013 BJMF.

The disc includes a nice cross-section of Jewish music, ranging from klezmer to electro-pop, solo guitar to chorus, and Yiddish song to contempo-Reform rock.

The artists on this album are Shura Lipovsky, Lerner & Moguilevsky, Guy Mendilow Ensemble, Noah Lubin, Dan Nichols and Eighteen, Tim Sparks, Ezekiel's Wheels, The Tarras Band, Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird, The Josh Nelson Project, Peter and Ellen Allard, Stereo Sinai, Mazal, Mika Karni's Kol Dodi, The Epichorus, Zamir Choral of Boston, and Andy Statman.

It includes both previously released tracks and new/unreleased material.

Artists I had not heard before that resonated for me included Shura Lipovsky (Yiddish song), Noah Lubin (Singer/songwriter), and Mika Karni's Kol Dodi (Middle-Eastern).

As in any collection of this sort, there are bound to be artists whose work resonates, and those whom don't appeal. Overall, the collection is a nice snapshot of the recent festival offerings, and the proceeds go towards ensuring that the BJMF can continue to offer diverse programming of Jewish music.

You can order the album here:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wedding Banned

Dancing with the groom on your shoulders is now verboten. Check out the reasons. 1) Minhag goyim. 2) To prevent a certain injury that would prevent him from "fulfilling the wedding night mitzvah". Lifting him on a table is also a no-no. B'dieved, he may be lifted on a chair, but only by married avreichim.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yesh Tikveh!

The inevitable Yiddish cover!

And now... The Chumra Song

"Between fish and meat, I drink a bottle of bourbon/I knock down my whole house ''zecher lechurbon'."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lipa Moves Forward

Over at the Arty Semite, Frimet Goldberger interviewed Lipa Schmeltzer.

Lipa talks about the "Big Event" ban and his perspective on how he dealt with that, and how he'd deal with future condemnation.

Kol hakavod!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Monday, July 01, 2013

Silent Fourth?

The headline to Menachem Wecker's article, "Orthodox Jews To Observe July Fourth Without Music", doesn't exactly match the content.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

From the mailbag....

Cantor Paul Dorman emails about his new album, "I See the Whole World Shine." Dorman who blends English verses with Hebrew choruses, describes his songs as "contemporary, inspirational songs with a pop/rock feel."

Amazon has the album here:

My Mother's Brisket

Over at the Arty Semite, Mark Cohen writes about Rick Moranis' new album "My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs" in "Is Rick Moranis 'Too Jewish'?"

Amazon has the album here:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thank You, Peter Himmelman!

Peter Himmelman is giving away his latest album with his new band, Minnesota for free for a few days. You can download it from his website here, as long as you agree to listen to it.

He posts on his Facebook page "It's free for a few days. Nothing to sign or trade or give back, we ask only that you listen to it. Listening to it is the new cash! Ain't that right?"

Have a rocking Shabbos!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Peeps

Some more peeps for y'all...

The "Flamboyantly Gay Simcha Dance Leader"

Because nothing says "welcome to ol hamitzvos" like a flamboyantly queer male dancer leading your  Bar Mitzvah boy and his yeshivish classmates in simcha dancing.

The "Lesbian Yeshiva Boy"
This peep is stylin' for cuz's frum wedding, dressed like a 7-8 year old yeshiva boy. White dress shirt, matching pinstriped slacks and vest, with no jacket. Oh, and she rocks the payes. Long ones, like the yeshivish kids all have.

The "Can't Count Teacher"
This peep will hire you to accompany her kindergarten class at graduation. At rehearsal the week of the event, you will discover that she's taught the kids one song in 4/4 with an extra bar of 1/8. In another, she's got three dropped beats somewhere in middle. She'll also count in the songs in 3/4 even though they are all in 4/4.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Real Deal!

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Abdul the Rabbi

The  4th Ward AfroKlezmer Orchestra emails about their new release, "Abdul the Rabbi". The title track sounds like Hasidic New Wave meets Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars.

The blurb says it all...

"Abdul the Rabbi on his way to correct a great mistake by an assistant runs into trouble when his liberated 1978 mercedes 300 has broken down. While on the road waiting for help, a series of temptations and horrors pass, Rabbi Abdul looks deep inside himself to find a place amongst the memoried ebb and flow."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In Review: Milken Archive - "Legend of Toil and Celebration: Songs of Solidarity, Social Awareness and Yiddish Americana"

The past few days in the car, I’ve been listening to "Legend of Toil and Celebration: Songs of Solidarity, Social Awareness, and Yiddish Americana" which is Volume 12 in  Lowell Milken's Milken Archive collection.

This two CD set is a valuable collection of American Yiddish music, and it includes both folk music and concert works.

The entire collection is quite fascinating. Of particular interest is the Arbiter Ring seder, which makes up 12 of the 18 tracks on disc one of the collection. It includes numerous intriguing choices including settings of Hasidic Nigunim and American Jewish melodies with Yiddish lyrics; for example, a popular Israeli “Hinei Ma Tov”, the Breslov waltz melody, “A Gute Vokh” , sung  as “A Gut Yontef”,  and Seymour Rockoff’s well-known melody for Am Yisrael Chai is sung with the lyric “Gut yontef aykh”. The Peysakh Seder ties in perfectly with the collection’s themes of toil and celebration of freedom, and the Arbeter Ring in particular, is a perfect choice to illustrate these themes through the prism of the Hagada.

Another Egyptian slavery reference can be found in "In Dem Land Fun Pyramidn".

I found the section of patriotic American songs, most of which I’d not heard before, to be quite inspiring.  It includes Berlin’s “Give Me You Tired, Your Poor”, Gebirtig’s “Amerike, Mayn Vunderland”  and Weissner’s “Ikh Hob Dikh Lib, Amerike”. Weissner’s piece in particular, captures the feel and aesthetic of patriotic songs like “America the Beautiful”, while retaining a Yiddishe ta’am. Love for the New Country in the language of the old.

Fave tracks in this collection include Gozinsky’s “Yismakh Moshe” with piano accompaniment, Rosenfeld’s “Mayn Yingele” presented in a vocal chorus setting, Weissner's “Ikh Hob Dikh Lib, Amerike” with its very American piano part, and the entire Arbeter Ring Seder; especially – in addition to the above mentioned selections/adaptations --  the rousing “Tayere Malke” and the lively “Dayenu” in Yiddish.

There are also nice versions of Rosenfield's "Mayn Rue Platz"and  Low's "Viglid" here

This is a nicely curated collection that will expose you to an excellent cross-section of Jewish/Yiddish music related to the value of hard, honest labor and a celebration of the opportunity America offered to European Jewish immigrants.

Amazon has the collection here:

Album 1:

Album 2:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

J-Blog Music related links

Over at Daat Torah, "What is music?"

I don't agree with all of the questions, and the sources suggested are a bit odd -- how about looking at the definition of "rikudim u'mcholos" or the Gemara about Zimra D'mana/Zimra d'puma -- for instance. In any event, a conversation starter.

Meanwhile, at Modern Uberdox: "Why aren't books like these being written for Jews?" Here's a musical 'graph:
It's exactly the same reason punk music isn't popular in the Jewish music world. Any BT with a punk music background or FFB who is into punk would rather use their talent towards more "mainstream" music, rather than create any frum punk rock. Once you create something that sounds clearly like non-Jewish music, the odds are that those nice boys (and girls) who listen to it will want to check out the original sources of the music. So, in essence, the frum musician would be indirectly responsible for frum kids listening to non-Jewish music and no one wants to deal with that on Yom Kippur.
I dunno about this sevara. Why is it any worse for a kid to check out say Hüsker Dü or any other punk band, over checking out the pop tripe they'll otherwise be inspired to look into, applying the same logic to the music being released by frum pop musicians? Lady Gaga's that much better from a religious standpoint? I don't see it.

Monday, April 08, 2013

BDE - Mutty Parnes Z"L

Guitarist/Composer Mutty Parness has died. BD'E.

The funeral is today at noon at Shomrei Hadas Chapel, 3803 14th Ave. in Boro Park.

There's some info about him and a clip of his most famous composition here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Funem Mailbag!

Rachel Feldman writes:
Yiddish lovers and “world music” fans can now include Yiddish music in the modern genres, as it is coming to life with a new and unique project, “Yiddish Welt” (“Yiddish World”). Creators Baruch Friedland and Eddy Somiren have set out to create an album of old Yiddish songs, taking a novel approach of combining the sounds of the Jewish shtetl - the clarinet, accordion, and violin - and rekindling the memories with modern, western sounds and rhythms (reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest).

Here's a YouTube clip.

The Aveira Song

At a Sholom Zochor, he only drinks root beer!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Yesh Hatikvah!

JMR reprints a Yated piece on Benny Friedman's song "Yesh Tikvah." The best part is the vignette about the guy who ran out of the hall because he thought he was hearing Hatikvah.


Nicely done!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Plane Talk

Lara St. John on "Tricks for Getting your Violin On a Plane." She played some solo Bach at a wedding I was playing a few years back. What an artist!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Purim News Headlines

In the spirit of the season, we are pleased to bring you news headlines the J-media will not be bringing you. Besides, Rabbi Zev Brenner needs some more material for his Purim show. (Hi, Zev!)

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns Position To Enter "A Jewish Star" Competition

Hasidic Pop Stars Release Music Video In Support of Convicted Child Molester Nechemia Weberman (Sadly, this could happen)

After Falling Off Charts, Matisyahu Opens "Matisyahu Orchestra & Singers" Office in Boro Park

Aaron Teitelbaum Productions and Shelly Lang Orchestras To Merge

Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak Rally At Nassau Coliseum Banned

BMG Announces 1st Annual Fundraising Concert Featuring Shyne, Shtar, and Kosha Dills.

Maccabeats 'Tzom Gedalya' Single Debuts At #1 On Billboard Charts

Airmont Shul Franchises To Open In Monroe, W'Burg, New Square, and Meah Shearim

Beis Yaakov Rebbetzin To Launch Facebook Competitor To be Called Soulbook

New Crowd-Funding Websites Indie-Schnorrers and Schnorrer-Starters Launched

Avraham Fried Wins "A Jewish Star" Competition

Lipa Schmeltzer Enrolls In YCT Semicha Program

HASC Concert Announces Next Year's Event To Be For Men Only

Previous years' Purim headlines can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Haredi Hatikvah Hootenanny

Life in Israel posts about a manufactured political controversy about the content of Hatikvah. He's impressed. I'm not. Judging by this, Shas's Eli Yishai is a dishonest, cynical, petty man who has no compunctions over creating massive chillul Hashem, for even a smudge of perceived political gain. Shame!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blue-ish Music

Saul Kaye plays a nice version of his tune "Two Wolves" for a Chabad crowd. Note how they clap along when prompted. What is it with Jews and backbeats (or lack thereof)?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

"Play With Kol Nidrei Day"

Apparently, it's "Play With Kol Nidrei Day" today!

A Nigun A Day posts "Triumph Over Torquemada."

Meanwhile, Andrew Grathwohl emails:
I am a member of the bass music collective, CPU/GOD. We're based out of Brooklyn, NY and our new ongoing musical project, entitled "Hebrew Bass Music" involves the use of Jewish vocals and compositions (both live and sampled, religious and secular in nature) in a electronic bass music setting.

As a Jew myself, I love the music and religious songs/prayers of my people, but I have struggled to bring it to a modern audience. This track is our proof of concept: Jewish music works in today's world, and especially on the dance floor.

Monday, February 04, 2013

In Review – Zevy Zions: Bolero Fantasia

Bolero Fantasia is the fourth volume of accordion solos performed by Zevy Zions. As on his other discs, Zions nicely plays through accordion repertoire, including tunes composed or arranged by Pietro Deiro, Pietro Frosini, and Charles Nunzio.

The recording also includes Zions’ own arrangements of Saint-Saens’s “The Swan” from “Carnival of the Animals” and an accordion reduction of Haydn’s Serenade (from his String Quartets Opus 3, No 5). Sweet!

Naturally, there’s well-played klezmer here too. “Klezmer Suite #4” is a tribute to the late clarinetist Paul Pincus, and features Zions’ tasteful performance of a Doina, Volakh, and Skochna that Pincus used to play. “Klezmer Walk” is a ten-minute long medly of three khosidls; “Drohobitsher Khusid”, Dem Tsadek’s Zemer’l”, and “Tate Ziser.”

I enjoyed this disc a lot. The musicianship is excellent, clearly performed by someone who loves this music, and it’s a very happy-making album. Zions' mastery of accordion technique, from solo bass lines to bellows shakes, from quick arpeggios to his tasteful reed switching, his approach takes full advantage of the sonic possibilities of the accordion.

You can read my reviews of Zevy's three earlier accordion albums here.

You can find more information and order the album at Zevy's website.

Peeps of the Day

"Tritone Guy"
This peep sings at the chupa. It's a high-end affair and everything has been perfectly coordinated in advance with the office. unique instrumentation, specific repertoire and arrangements, and the keys for the "guest" singer at the chupa are all worked out in advance. He'll sing both "Mi Adir" and Mi Von Siach" in G, we're told. Um, actually, he sings "Mi Von Siach" in Db, as we are left to discover in dealt-time.

"The Beis Yaakov Girl"
A lovely MO engagement party in warm weather. The bare-legged bride is wearing a small dress which leaves little to the imagination. On the gift table, wrapped in clear cellophane, is an elaborately arranged display of cookware, with the pièce de résistance, in a place of honor atop the stack -- "The Beis Yaakov Cookbook"!

"'B' Section Guy"
This peep only sings the "B" section to the song. Can be spotted in shuls, usually davening Musaf for the amid.

"High Note Guy"
This peep can also be found in shul. "High note Guy" will use a tune like Carlebach's "Ana Hashem" for Kedusha. He'll start at the top of his range. Naturally, when he reaches the B, instead of making do by dropping the octave, he'll blow out his voice singing beyond the top of his range, with the expected results. He will have difficulty completing the rest of Chazoras Hashatz.

Monday, January 28, 2013

From the mailbag....

Benjamin Terrell writes: "If you are interested in checking out my music...We Have Been Waiting So Long by Benjamin Terrell on SoundCloud."

Suspended for Singing

The Forward's Sisterhood blog reports on a "Controversial Suspension For Contestant On Israel's 'The Voice'."

This is a must-see video. Watch it.

I disagree with Renee Ghert-Zand's spin on this. I think the school and the girl's family handled this correctly. I give Ophir and her family a lot of credit for being willing to do this. The school has rules and standards which students are expected to live up to, and while a parent may not agree with a specific rule, they do have to respect the schools policies and the effect public rule-breaking of this sort could have on the rest of the student body. Given this, a penalty that is "serious" enough to be pointed to as a deterrent is warranted. However, it does seem that the school and family negotiated a punishment that would both serve as a deterrent to others and would still allow for Ophir to compete on "The Voice" without expulsion from school, something that would be the expected response from a Chareidi school.

The challenge will be what/how to handle future televised appearances during the season. Hopefully, the school will subsume it into this penalty. Ophir made a tremendous Kiddush Hashem in her appearance, and has the potential to continue to do so.

Kol Isha is a complicated halachik issue. The only way it may change is from within, with examples like Ophir's, not with knee-jerk attacks from without.

Friday, January 25, 2013

BD'E - Shelly Gordon

I regret to inform all of you that the well-known trumpet player, Shelly Gordon, passed away yesterday, after many years of suffering with Parkinson's Disease.

The funeral will be held this Sunday at 2.30PM at  Sinai Chapels located at 16205 Horace Harding Exp. in Flushing.

Shiva will take place from Sunday to Wednesday at 53-46 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Bayside,Queens from 2:00 to 7:00 PM

Baruch Dayan Emes!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pop Mail

Jordan writes:
You forgot to add that every frum pop star has at least one MiVon Siach, preferably mispronounced MiBon Siach, one Mi Adir, and at least two fast wedding tunes.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Peep Mail

J. writes:
Met a peep I havent encountered in a while. The guy who thinks its funny to stick his hand in front of the bell of a playing brass musician, and then gets offended when you put down the horn and tell him to cut it out, with extreme prejudice. I call him an asshole, but if you can think of a more family friendly peep name, thats ok too.

I'll call him a "Brasshole".

So You Wanna Be A Successful Frum Pop Star?

Here are some tips on what you'll need to do.

1) If you can find a pasuk/liturgical text with your last name referenced in it, you must record a setting of it. If the text has no significance or meaning, that's irrelevant. It can even be a sentence fragment, if you like. The main thing is that you will get to sing your name and that if the song hits, others will too.

2) If you can't find a text with your last name, your first one will also do. Audiences love to scour lyrics for hidden allusions. Throw 'em a bone. Maybe some of them will get it.

3) Record a song with a title that can also be a good wish/conversation closer. Use it as your answering message, the tag line to every post you make on Facebook, add it to many of your Tweets. Remember, you can never use it too much. Sample Facebook post: "Happy birthday, friend! Remember, Efshar L'taken!"

4) Always insist on singing "your" song, even if you're a guest at a wedding or other event, where it might not be the best call. Your song is your brand. Plug it!

5) Email is good. Send out many emails to your entire list. Frequently. Remember, the less info in the post the better. Your fans don't need to know the exact event info. The main thing is to pique their interest. They will find a way to track down the missing info.

6) YouTube is your friend. Your fans want to see the footage of fun events like you driving to the gig. Really. More videos are better. The quantity is more important than the content. You get extra points if there's something else going on in the video while you're singing. Guitarists chewing gum, horn players texting, etc. are all huge attention getters. Bonus points if you get on the mic at someone else's gig, and then post the footage all over.

7) Facebook is good for sharing informative posts like "on the way to the wedding". Your fans want to know this. Otherwise, they wouldn't "friend" you, right? Remember to follow up the post with "wedding went well, B'H" later, so your fans aren't left wondering. Rinse and repeat. Remember to Tweet the same thing too.

8) Since I mentioned YouTube... hit counters are important. You'll want to pay for hits so that your video shows more views then there are frum Jews in the USA. It adds to your credibility.

I'm not going to give away all my secrets in one post, but these helpful tips should put get you on your way nicely.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Peep Time!

"Harmony Guy"
We run into this peep a lot. He's always singing harmony. Usually a third, but sometimes another interval. He generally harmonizes fairly nicely until the end of the phrase, where he typically goes off the rails. He never seems to notice, though.

"The Beat-boxer"
This peep will hang out near the band during soft instrumental music, providing the rhythm for those times when there either is no drummer, or the drummer isn't "pumping" enough for him.

How Insensitive!

It's the closing minutes of a fundraising dinner. The guests are largely out of the ballroom, either at the Viennese table in the lobby, or else already on their way home. A handful of people sit chatting at two of the tables. I stop playing and grab a coffee.

That's when she approaches me. "Can you play some more music, please? I love to dance!" Dressed in a fancy party dress, she looks to be about six years old, and she's the youngest daughter of one of the honorees. I could tell her I'm done. Instead, we strike a deal. I'll finish my coffee and then play her one last song. She settles on a slow YBC number.

I get back on the bandstand and start playing as she loses herself in dance, pirouetting gracefully around in front of me, her dance steps becoming more and more elaborate as the music continues. The waitresses bussing the tables all smile as they pass by.

And then, the clod walks in. "There's nobody here! You're playing to nobody!", he declares. I nod my head at the dancer, her eyes closed as she moves to the music. Her face is shining! "She's listening", I say. Chastened, he quietly grabs the dinner journal he came in for and quickly leaves.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

BD'E - Rabbi Shalom Levine of Megama Duo

Rabbi Shalom Levine, the surviving member of the influential Jewish music duo, "Megama Duo" has died.  BD'E!

Here are a few clips of the Duo performing in concert.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Lipa Style!

It was inevitable, I suppose. Oy!