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."

Monday, December 28, 2015

R' Avi Shafran  writes "Blame Jewish terrorism on nationalism, not Judaism".
Ah, but the pundits have evidence to the contrary, proof of sinister pan-Orthodox sentiment: a song played at some Orthodox weddings, with lyrics borrowed from the account of the Biblical Samson’s prayer to be avenged of the Philistines. As the now-notorious video showed, there are indeed Jews who sing the song with ugly intent. But mainstream religious Zionist Jews and Haredim who dance to it at weddings no more intend the song as a cry for vengeance than a Frenchman heartily singing La Marseillaise pines to “soak our fields” with impure Prussian blood, or an American tearing up over his national anthem exults over how brave martyrs’ “blood has washed out [the] pollution” of the hated British.
There is a clear difference between singing a song with historical references to violence, as opposed to one whose roots today are violent. Yes, the text is Biblical, going back further in time than the French or American national anthems. But, the song was composed by a radical and was immediately adopted by contemporary extremists.

Failed Messiah posted a video of Dov Shurin singing his song, Zochreini Na. It defies logic that the community would adopt this song, created by this person, under the circumstances he wrote it, and with his known extremism. In other words, it isn't a quaint historical reference today. Perhaps if Jews sing it in a few hundred years, that will be true. But those who brought this song to the community knew full well what was meant by it.

And yes, there are many people who don't think about the words of the songs they sing, and there are plenty of Jews who like the song because they've heard it, and have not thought about its import, if they even understand the words at all. (Sadly, there are too many, even Jewishly literate people, who are either unaware of or don't at all consider the lyrics to the Jewish music they listen, sing and dance to, as has been documented on this blog. Over the years, I've highlighted songs that make no sense due to omitted words etc. One quick example, the Shloimy Dachs version of Hamalach Hagoel omits the words "vikarei vahem shemi", which makes the B section meaningless.)

I first heard the song on a compilation CD issued in memory of a victim of Palestinian terror. In "Singing of Revenge", I wrote about how a right-wing terror group had been formed at the funeral for the person in whose memory the CD had been released. You can follow the link for some more on the song. If I remember correctly, they had planned an attack at an Arab girls' school, close by the Al-Makassad hospital in the At-Tur neighbourhood. The J-Post article I'd linked to then is now broken, but I found a description of that attack on the Bat Ayin Wikipedia page. "The officers stopped the two and examined the car, finding that the trailer had two containers of gasoline rigged to two TNT bricks, and propane gas tanks. The explosive charge consisted of a "vergin" (military battery), and the device, in a baby carriage, was timed to explode at 7:35 am., when dozens of girls would have been entering the schoolgrounds. Later investigations revealed this was not a one-off strike but rather part of a West Bank network of settlers conducting a campaign against Palestinians. Israeli intelligence soon heard of a large cache of weapons, and suspected it might imply an attack on the Temple Mount was being prepared. Eventually 6 men, residents of Bat Ayin and Hebron, were convicted..." I'm pretty sure The JPost article talked about how this was planned at/after the funeral.

Bottom line, this song was composed by an extremist, immediately adopted/popularized by extremists, and regardless of how some Orthodox Jews here in the USA may know it, has always had those associations. While I don't ascribe the same motivations to those here who may have been unaware of these connections, I'll say it again, it's time to stop playing the song at simchas. If nothing else, the video of that wedding should compel us to stop singing/playing that song.