Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday, December 09, 2016

JMR Benny Friedman Review

This Guest Review of Benny – Fill The World With Light gets a link for this line: "This is the one that teenage girls and middle aged men trying too hard will [be] pumping loudly through open car windows."

Crisis-mukkah Is Coming!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Echo Yochi

It's one loon with a YouTube channel, not all Chabad.

That said, even one is troubling. Not representative, but still troubling...

Chabad Messianist who Preaches Killing Gays Raps Funky Praise for the Rebbe.

Rare Recordings of R' Ben Zion Shenker Z"L

Over at Circus Tent.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

BDE - R' Ben Zion Shenker

I'm sad to report the passing of the influential chassidic composer/singer R' Ben Zion Shenker Z"L. R' Shenker composed many songs that are widely sung in the Jewish world, including melodies for Mizmor LeDavid and Yosis Alayich. He also carried the Modzits musical tradition, documenting, singing, and recording the melodies of the Modzitser rebbes. Yehei Zichro Baruch!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Mostly Kosher - Ain't No Sunshine

The best klezmer version of a Bill Wither's tune I've ever heard!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Yiddish Trump Jingle from April

Not an endorsement, but came across this and thought it'd be of interest to my readers.

Sinai Tor Arrested for Wedding Performance

I've written about this story and the song Zochreini Na. Recently Israel arrested thirteen Israelis who celebrated the murder of a Palestenian baby by Jewish terrorists last winter. The Forward has some details: Israeli ‘Wedding of Hate’ Groom and 12 Guests Charged for Celebrating Murders of Palestinians.

Why Kohanim Shouldn't Go To The Met

Man scattering friend's ashes halts Metropolitan Opera performance

Friday, October 28, 2016

Diaspora Yeshiva Band - Hasidisco Pioneers

The original version of Malchutcha recorded by the Diaspora Yeshiva Band for the 1978 Chasidic Song Festival. The producers overdubbed a mixed chorus after the band had recorded their tracks. It was not the band's choice.

‫להקת יש

Thursday, October 27, 2016

This Week's Leining

Pretty sure it won't sound like this in my shul...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gershon Veroba - "Rabi Nachman"

Gershon was an early influence. He still sings very nicely here, but this tune doesn't speak to me. In general, I like the songs he writes more than the tunes he's bought from contemporary frum-pop writers.

Leonard Cohen w/Cantor Gideon Zelermyer & the Shaar Hashomayim Choir

More details at the Montreal Gazette: "Montreal Cantor Collaborates On Leonard Cohen’s New Album."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nachum Segal Says Good-bye To Radio


... and there goes a large chunk of WFMU's fundraising income too... Interesting to see if/how they will hold on... developing...

I Totally Relate

A few years old, but well worth seeing. The lack of understanding of artists in the frum community, musicians, dancers, writers, is soul-breaking. The high-school I attended viewed the creative impulse as a yetzer hara to be stifled, rather than a gift to be cultivated.

A Little Girl Was Kicked Out Of Class Because Of What Her Mom Does. But Her Mom Will Never Stop.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Yoseph Nigun - Achiya Asher Cohen Alloro‬‎

An incredible tribute to Yossi Piamenta Z"L.

I've been thinking about why this resonates so much, and I think that it's because it works on multiple levels....As an homage to Yossi's style...  as a creative song in its own right... with an inspired arrangement with multiple modulations... and because, unlike much of the contemporary Jewish music, it not only requires "chops" to play, but also has soul, which to much of the contemporary material lacks. It's hard to ID it, but like indecency, you know it when you see/hear it. Oh, and of course, klezmer clarinet! Check it out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Middle East Groove All Stars Got Game

Over at Tablet... Shai Tsabari Storms the Heavens, from Bat Yam to New York

I Am Woman, Hear Me...

In the Forward... Jewish Orthodox Women Singers Can’t Sing for Men but They Sing Anyway

אין עוד מלבדו | שלומי שבת | דודי קנפלר | מקהלת שירה

אין עוד מלבדו | שלומי שבת | דודי קנפלר | מקהלת שירה

Not sure what to make of this. It's a beautiful rendition in Yiddish of a Shlomi Shabbat song. One the one hand, it's neat that there's a Chassidish version. On the other, the Hebrew original is so beautiful and stands on its own. It didn't *need* a Yiddish translation to kosher it, as it were. Thre's something about that genre of Israeli pop spiritual -- Sarit Hadad's K'shehalev Boche, Eyal Golan's Malchei Hamlachim etc. -- that stands on its own. These songs don't need to be "frummed up". That said, this is quite well done for what it is.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Now That's A Chumash Play

At my school, for our Chumash party we had Morah Breindy teaching us a few songs. (I know, I know, but I couldn't resist.) Stevie Wonder rocks the Chumash casino resort

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Renaissance Is Over

Child Care Center To Take Over Site Of Well Known BP Catering Hall

I played some memorable gigs there, including one chassidish wedding, where the chosson requested REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" for the mitzvah tantz because "it's our song." Other then that one request, it was a typical Chassidish event, with no secular music whatsoever. I'll never forget the stares I got while playing that one, before segueing into the traditional tune.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Musicians' Reference

Rav Eitam Henkin HY'D is quoted in the the Seforim blog post "Torah Under Wraps":

“The definitive assignment of each person into specifically this community or that one is often artificial. It is absurd that the public considers many comedians, musicians, and low-brow entertainers (for purposes of this example) as “Haredi” because they attended heder and wear a hat in the synagogue, while thousands of families who give their all for Torah and are punctilious about every jot and tittle (not to mention that for them television, secular newspapers, and the like are not even up for discussion) are “not Haredi" because they wear a colored shirt and also rejoice on Yom Ha-‘Atzma’ut. Although people can only see externals, they can ascertain what they will have to account for in the Heavenly court, whether they will be asked about Torah study, honesty in business, and hoping for the redemption,[5] or whom they cast their vote for in national elections.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peeps in the mailbag...

A. writes: Got a few peeps of my own all from one chasunah. "The loud key-changer" Violinist leads the guests who are singing the Alter Rebbe's Nigun (at a Chabad wedding) to the badekenish. Until one very large and very very loud singer becomes the leader, moving the entire crowd from D to D# and eventually to E. Poor violinist tries to override him, then tries to play along, then gives up. "The faster faster guy" Beginning of the 2nd set, band is about 2 minutes into an upbeat funky hora medley, crowd is having a great time. One younger brother/cousin/nephew/friend starts yelling at me to play faster. When ignored, starts gesticulating wildly. Still ignored, actually gets up on stage to yell right next to me about which fast songs I should play right now and everyone will go wild. I resist the urge to go punk rocker on him; anyway I'm wearing earplugs so his ranting is barely detectable. Eventually he gives up and disappears. "The interminable tribute/parody singers" Two family members play instruments, so we've agreed to let them take over on guitar & drums, and sing a tribute song they've written TTTO "Just One Shabbos." Except it turns out it's the 2 musicians plus 3 singers and the monitor mix is totally wrong for them, so it's a complete trainwreck, at about 80% speed, with even more verses than the original. Oh well, at least the band got 15 minutes to get dessert and drinks.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Some Links

A completely over the top review of Eleanor Riessa's new collab with Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars, The Glorious Debut of Yiddish Songbird Eleanor Reissa as the Jewish Beyonce, that contains both factual inaccuracies -- Delilah wasn't Jewish -- and super schmaltzy writing. But schmaltz is appropriate, no? There's a great clip at the link.

Meanwhile, WNYC is Remembering Elie Wiesel, and you can hear him singing in two short snippets.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kosha Dillz's 'Dodging Bullets' Video Feat. Matisyahu

Premiering on Billboard: Kosha Dillz's 'Dodging Bullets' Video Feat. Matisyahu

From Chabad to dancing girls (Tznius warning), but an Israel supporter (of sorts), which is not easy these days.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Vu Zenen Di Froyen?

Over at the Forward surprisingly tolerant piece about Yiddish Soul, A Concert of Talented Men.

Some, however, had complaints, not about the quality of the singers or musicians but rather about who they were. In the middle of the show a woman stood up and shouted “Where are the women? Women can sing beautifully too you know,” and promptly left the venue.

It is, of course, a serious and fraught issue. Besides the Folksbiene’s Executive Director Bryna Wasserman not a single woman appeared or spoke during the three-hour show. Not one woman played an instrument, let alone sang. In the days following Yiddish Soul some secular Klezmer musicians and Yiddish singers took to Facebook to decry the Folksbiene’s decision to “discriminate” against women in order to assure that a religious audience would attend.
I have a lot of sympathy for such arguments but in this case I don’t agree with them. If all of the Folksbiene’s concerts and plays only featured men it would be an entirely different story. But it’s just the opposite: the company puts on a womanless show just once a year so that religious Jews who would otherwise be unable to attend can enjoy it. It’s worth it to do it once a year, especially if it allows the Folksbiene to present such great cantors and singers as Lipa Schmeltzer, Yaakov Lemmer and Benny Friedman.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt if next year’s Kulturfest featured a second concert on the same scale in which the Yiddish world’s many talented women singers and musicians could perform.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ay Yai Yai, Indeed!

"But, of course, Hakadosh Baruch Hu comes and "matzileinu's us"...

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Ein Li...

E. and David both emailed about Lipa Schmeltzer's cover of Ein Li Erez Anchoret performed with the song's composer in Hebrew and Yiddish: "Israeli lesbian composer moved to tears by NY haredi singer’s Yiddish version of her classic tune"

It's a horrible version musically speaking, IMO, but it doesn't much matter, because what's important is the dialogue that's happening here. Now it's easy to pretend that this is new, but the reality is that over the past few years there has been an increasing crossover of Chasidic artists willing to step out of the community's comfort zone to perform with/for secular/differently religious Jews (and non-Jews).

And that's the important part of this, the bridge-building that has been going on despite the leadership on both sides.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Dirty Mikveh Band

The song isn't so interesting to me, but the band name is perspired, I mean, inspired.

New Song in honor of Yud Aleph Nissan, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s birthday

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Cross-Currents Joins the Bandwagon....

....ranting about loud music at simchos in Hear Me Out.

As is typical with these kinds of articles, they blend together unproven assertions, irrelevant or even downright incorrect "statistics", silly suggestions and unworkable solutions that do almost nothing towards addressing the problem, but do serve as a "heter" for some sanctimonious , self-righteous fools to disrespect musicians.

I don't have the patience to address the distortions/misrepresentations/irrelevancies in this piece, and given the author's history of misleading statements, I don't think he deserves the benefit of the doubt on this either.

I do want to address one point, though. There is a simple solution to this issue. It is to hire bands that play softer. We exist. As one of the bandleaders who does just that, I can say that the "professional volume complainers" in the frum world do not practice what they preach. I more often get requests to turn up than turn down, and yet, my business from the professional complainer demographic is negligible, despite them hearing me at events and my booking many jobs on that basis from others in the community. When videos of the professional complainer's children's weddings are posted on line, they inevitably feature bands on the louder end of the spectrum.

I played an event for one of the "activists" behind a campaign about this in the frum community. She didn't hire me herself, though. She didn't talk to me before the event about volume either. The caterer hired me. So, someone who claims to be so concerned about this as a "signature issue", wasn't involved in making sure they had a volume-conscious musician at their own event. At the event, of course, she made sure to "virtue-signal" about volume, when it was absolutely not an issue.

To be clear. There are some in the from community who view these articles as a license to be verbally abusive towards musicians. This is irrespective of whether the musicians are playing too loud or not, and often happens before we've even played a note.

The solution is simple. Hire bands who are volume-conscious. Thus far, I've seen no evidence of that from the people who tend to respond to articles like this. Just nastiness.

(There are some other relevant factors as well, like the venue, layout of the room, etc. But, in large part, these could all be resolved by hiring bands that play softer. Yet, when the activists published a list of "approved bands", the list featured many bands that are clearly a part of the problem, and notably did not include some of those known for softer volume.)

Monday, February 29, 2016

From the mailbag...

Avraham (Alan) Friedenberg writes:
Do you have any ideas where I might be able to find CDs from the Stanley Miller Band? He was popular in the 70s, and I loved his stuff. They had a live album, and there was another one called "American Simcha." 
If you have any ideas, please let me know. Thanks!

This has been asked here before... I think if Stanley Miller released digital downloads of his albums, people would buy them. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

PSA Baby Banz Gemach

This looks silly, but is actually a good idea, if you are a close relative and need your away to be in the room at one of those loud weddings. Of course, the best option would be to hire a lower-volume band (I'm available), and next best would be for the baby to not be in the room.

But, if you need to have the baby there, or if you're one of those people who feels compelled to park your infant right in front of the speaker during the dance set, these are a good b'dieved option.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Drunk Homosexual Sex and Shabbos Zemiros

I recently read Marc Shapiro's recently published book "Changing the Immutable. It's a fantastic read, especially if you're interested in how history is often "shaded" in the Orthodox community.

In the section dealing with sex and modesty related censorship, he includes the following:
Let me conclude this chapter by returning to the subject of sex and pointing out that had it not been for an act of censorship, Israel Najara's (c.1555-c.1625) Ya-h ribon, would probably never have achieved popularity. R. Hayim Vital (1543-1620), in his Sefer hahezyonot, records that while drunk Najara engaged in homosexual acts. He also mentions that Najara had sexual relations with a non-Jewish woman. Because of this, Vital wrote that "the hymns that he has composed are in themselves good, but whoever speaks to him and whatever leaves his mouth is forbidden, because he always used foul language and was a drunkard his whole life."

In early editions of the book, Najara's name was deleted, and it is possible that it was even deleted from the manuscript used for the first edition. It was only with the 1954 publication of Sefer hahezyonot, from Vital's own autograph manuscript, that the report about Najara became known. Had this information been public knowledge in earlier years, it is unlikely that Najara's hymn would ever have been adopted, even though, as we have seen, Vital asserted that his hymns are without objection. Yet even after the publication of the uncensored Sefer hahezyonot, we should not be surprised that a 2002 edition of the work published by a Jerusalem yeshiva continues to omit Najara's name. To do so is a lot easier than explaining to people why such a man's hymns should still be sung.
The book is not really about music, but it's a fascinating read.

Amazon has it here:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


"The Break-Dancing Photographer"
This peep comes running over at a yeshivish wedding and asks us to break down "Keitzad Merakdin" into Hip Hop, because he wants to get into the middle and "really bust some moves!"

Um, you're hired as the second photographer, not featured club dancer. I'm pretty sure the clients will want pictures of their other guests dancing "Keitzad Merakdin".

"'Mahapecha Shel Simcha' Guy"
This peep wants the bandleader to DJ a song during the dance set. Again. And again. And again. The same song. And, when the band takes a break after the set, again. And while we're packing up, yet again. It's a fun song, but really now...

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Jewish Weird Al

"You obviously keep a Brisker shiur for Pas Shachris,
That's why you have such a big reishis and an achris..."

The best part of the whole thing is how they managed to turn a weight-loss program into an ad for Yapchik, a Lakewood eatery that is definitely part of the "achila gasa" culture...

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Take On Yemen

A-Wa they can! "Three Israeli Jewish women of Yemeni descent are musical hits in the Arab world."