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.)