Showing posts with label Jewish music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jewish music. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Alice Dancing Under the Gallows" - Theresienstadt and the Power of Music

"Music is a religion, music is god."

Never have I heard words that were any truer (at least for me personally).

Alice Herz-Sommer will be 107 years old this November. She is the oldest living Holocaust surviver. She has her friends, she has her health and she plays piano everyday.

Alice lived in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. Theresienstadt was used as a Nazi front to show the public the daily lives of prisoners. It was the only Nazi camp where children were kept with their parents and where artists were permitted and encouraged to create.

Read my post about a concert featuring some of the music composed in Theresienstadt

Even though many of these prisoners were starving, they kept on creating. Alice was one of these people.

Alice Dancing Under the Gallows is a film due to be finished next year. To follow its progress see its twitter and facebook pages.

I want to be like Alice when I grow up. Her love, hope and optimism are truly an inspiration.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy ninth night of Hannukah: "Honika Electronica"

I'm celebrating the ninth night of Hannukah with my family tonight, so the part ain't over for me.

This comes from comedian Eric Schwartz

Thanks Boris for posting this!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Obama on Mel Brooks at the Kennedy Center Honors

Obama said, quoting Mel Brooks in his own words:

"Look at Jewish history, unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable, so out of every ten Jews god designed one to be crazy and amuse the others. By the time I was five I knew I was that one."


Obama commented that most of the best Mel Brooks quotes are unfit to be mentioned at the ceremony. (He must have been talking about, "hey, where the white women at?" Or "excuse me while I whip this out!")

The President also said that he saw Blazing Saddles when he was ten, well under the age limit for the associated rating at the time. You will not convince me that this movie, about a black man taking a leadership position and proving his success with a heroic intelligence, did not leave a lasting impression on the 10-year-old Barack Obama.

There is just something so poignant and beautiful about that.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A holiday playlist that doesn't suck: Christmas and a couple Channukah songs!


Thanksgiving has officially come and gone, and now I feel the time is appropriate to start talking about Christmas and Channukah. I think many would agree with me that before Thanksgiving, it's really just too early.

After scouring the Internet, reading blogs, looking at iTunes playlists and asking friends I've compiled an extensive list of holiday songs that don't suck (according to me). This list includes classics that never get old, sarcastic songs, punk covers, indie covers, funny songs and even a handful of Channukah songs that I feel are appropriate and don’t cross that cheese ball line. (I’ve placed them at the bottom of the list.)

Please feel free to share more. I want this list to serve as a resource for retailers to keep their employees from ripping their ears out, or folks who want to make a soundtrack to a party where people might actually have a good time. I’ve also included links to CD compilations (click on the captions under the images) and iTunes playlists that are acceptable.

Click here to see the list of 64 songs. Everything from Alvin and the Chipmunks and 2 Live Jew to Eartha Kitt and Sufjan Stevens.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Jewish Music Festival celebrates the art of the Holocaust created by both Jews and non-Jews


Through out my life, I often think about the fact that if it were not for Adolph Hitler, I would not be here. Plain and simple: my grandmother would probably still be in Germany and my Grandfather would have married another pretty Jewish lady in Los Angeles.

If it were not for the Holocaust, we would also not have any of the beautiful and inspirational art and music featured in They Left a Light: Masterpieces from Nazi Prison Camps at the East Bay Jewish Community Center on Sunday evening, October 18th.

This performance will be an educational experience with narration and a multimedia production performed by some of the Bay Area’s top classical musicians, including Susan Waterfall, piano and narrator; Jeremy Cohen, violin; Burke Schuchmann, cello, and Erin Neff, soprano.

By nature, human beings find ways to make beauty out of the darkness. Olivier Messiaen, composer of The Quartet for the End of Time, Sunday evening's featured piece, was a Catholic French composer who lived in the Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp during the Holocaust as a prisoner of war...

READ MORE OF MY ARTICLE HERE

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coolest thing I've ever seen in a Jewish prayer book


L'shana Tova! Happy New Year!
Thank you Sly and the Family Stone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Joshua Nelson and Kosher Gospel: Concert Review

If you are not a religious person, but feel drawn to African American gospel music, raise your hand. (I know this is the internet, but do it anyway. Unless you are in public, then spare yourself.)

If you are not Christian and are still drawn to gospel music, raise your hand.

If you are not Christian and are drawn to gospel music but get a little (or very) uncomfortable with the lyrics, raise your hand. 

Still have your hand raised? Thought so. Okay, you can put it down now.

I LOVE African American gospel music. I have been drawn to it for as long as I can remember. I even wrote a one-hundred page master's report on it in graduate school.

I am an agnostic Jew, and I love music written with the love of Jesus Christ in mind. What's up with that?  

People have described the concept in many ways, but it usually gets back to something like: it's not the words that matter, it's the conviction, the emotion and the excitement of the music behind the words. And most of the people that sing gospel, can really SING.

I learned about Joshua Nelson years ago when a friend who knew that I was researching gospel music sent me a newspaper clipping.  The Grammy-nominated singer grew up as a Black Orthodox Jew in South Orange, New Jersey. His grandmother introduced him to Mahalia Jackson and he fell in love. Nelson wanted to be a gospel singer, but he couldn't realistically sing about Jesus now, could he?

"All I can do is be who I am," said Nelson at the sold-out opening night of the Jewish Music Festival at the First Congregational Church in Oakland, California. Really all Nelson has done is replaced hebrew lyrics over the gospel style of singing, accompaniment and harmony.  Similar, and yet very different, to what Ray Charles did with gospel music and secular lyrics years before.

To me personally, it's theoretically the perfect blend.  It actually it sounded a little cheesy to me at first, but then I experienced it in person this evening, and I got it.  Let me explain:

The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir took the stage first. The choir is a professional group that is unaffiliated with any church and has singers of all backgrounds and creeds.   They started off with a handful of gorgeously arranged spirituals like "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit" and "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel." 

"Good start," I thought, "stick to the old testament and songs that tell about the glory of god. The Jewish people can get that, definitely."

Then came a more contemporary style gospel. I heard the word "Christ" once and at that moment wondered what every person in the sanctuary was thinking, I mean, we were in a church, but as part of the Jewish Music Festival.  I kinda thought my brain would explode for a second there, too many layers to think about.

The audience was into it, heads were bobbing. Things were going well.  Terrance Kelly, conductor of the Interfaith Choir, gave the audience a gospel 101 lesson, "don't wait for the song to end to clap!" People laughed.

But then after the intermission, Nelson and his band took the stage, and people couldn't stay in their seats. They went nuts. The difference was like night and day.  

In addition to singing Jewish traditionals like "Hineh Ma Tov" and "Mi Chamocha" he referred to and sang the songs of Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Louie Armstrong and Harry Belafonte. He riffed off of Benny Goodman's (a fellow member of the tribe) "Sing Sing Sing" and Ray Charles' "Hit the Road" Jack. Music that was familiar to everyone in the room.

I spoke to an older couple on my way out who said that that was some of the best music they had heard in a long time. 

As a Jew, I get it: this guy is literally speaking my language. He's singing words that I recognize. And words that I, even as an agnostic, am emotionally attached to.  And it's to the music that I know and love.  I don't have to distance myself from the music just because I can't relate to the words.

Oh, and Nelson can sing too...



Here's another one of the tune Adon Olam with his backup singers.

This picture from 2004 cracks me up.  You know if Oprah says someone is the "next big thing," it's gonna be true. 


I will be attending most of this weeks Jewish Music Festival's shows, so please check back for bloggings.  It's going to be fun!

Here's a the schedule. Tickets are available for all shows:

Young People's Symphony Orchestra: Special guest cellist Bonnie Hampton sits in with California's oldest youth orchestra in a concert that is part of "Bloch Party - A Celebration of the Life and Music of Ernest Bloch." 2 p.m. today. $15-$20. Castro Valley Center for the Arts, 19501 Redwood Road, Castro Valley. (510) 889-8961.

Andy Statman Trio: A master of blurring genres, this clarinet and mandolin virtuoso shuffles through bluegrass, American roots, and avant-garde jazz with klezmer and Hasidic nigunim. 8 and 10 p.m. Monday. $20. Yoshi's, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco, (415) 655-5600.

Flory Jagoda and Friends: Born 84 years ago into a singing family in the Sephardic community of Sarajevo, this Jewish singer and composer is one of the primary ambassadors for Ladino culture. This program finds her sharing stories and songs. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. $16-$20. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley.

Di Goldene Pave: The Toronto-based Yiddish singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Lenka Lichtenberg duets with clarinetist Kinneret Sageet. 1 p.m. Thursday. $12-$16. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. Also 6 p.m. Thursday. Free. San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco.

Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird: Mixing klezmer and politics with elements of punk and folk on its new album, "Partisans and Parasites," this Berlin cabaret group will be joined by beatboxer Yuri Lane. 8 p.m. Thursday. $12-$14. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St. Also, 8 p.m. April 2 (without Lane). $12-14. Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

The Sisters of Sheynville and Gaucho: The all-female Canadian folk vocal group headlines with its three- and four-part harmonies in the style of the Barry Sisters. Gaucho plays seductive gypsy swing with a detectable Django Reinhardt influence. 8 p.m. Saturday. $18-$28. Jewish Community Center San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco.

Elana Jagoda, Yuri Lane and guests: A program directed at children as part of family music day, featuring folk-rocker Elana Jagoda, beatboxer Yuri Lane, workshops and performances by other festival artists. 11 a.m. Next Sunday. $7-$20. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley.

Finale Dance Party with Brass Menazeri: The festival closes out with a lively set by a horn-driven Bay Area soul and Klez-Balkan outfit. 4 p.m. next Sunday. $10-$25. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SxSW Day 2 highlights: Efterklang, Girls in Trouble, The Sway Machinery & Golem


















If I had a Girls Rock Camp day on Wednesday, Thursday was my Jewish day. 

My sunlit hours were a bit of a wash (which has to be expected), but we did stumble upon experimental Danish band Efterklang (meaning "echo") at the French Legion. With 8 musicians on stage, I think each instrument on earth was present.  This is of course, not true, but this band is interesting enough for me to pass onto fans of folks like Akron/Family.

I then got myself a seat at the gorgeously remodeled speakeasy on Congress to see the JDub Records showcase including: Girls in Trouble, The Sway Machinery & Golem.

Firstly, let me just share that within the first hour of arriving, a girl came around with free sausage wraps - at a jewish record label sponsored party. I had myself a good chuckle. People, of course, ate them up. 

Golem violinist, Alicia Jo Rabins, has a new project called Girls in Trouble. This description comes from their myspace page
GIRLS IN TROUBLE started as an attempt to get out of writing a thesis for a masters degree in theology and grew into a song cycle which grew into a band.

These are songs that tell ancient stories of girls in trouble from that hotbed of human and divine darkness, The Bible.

Girls with names like Dinah and Tamar, and some whose names were never recorded. Tales of runaways, human sacrifice, and illicit seduction from a time before God and the Devil got separated out from each other. 
This was my favorite tune of the set:  

Hunter from hoovesontheturf on Vimeo.

Finally the club filled up, and we got to bask in the frenetic energy of The Sway Machinery and Golem. I've now seen The Sway Machinery three times since October, and they never disappoint (read an old blog post here). With an all-star lineup of musicians (from Antibalas, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Balkan Beat Box & Arcade Fire), these guys are tight. They also have a lot of fun, bumping into each other onstage and dancing around.  I love their suits too.

Finally at 1am, Golem took the stage. Rather than donning an according, the pregnant Annette rocked a red keytar. That baby is going to be cool.  My favorite new song?: "Tucheses and Nenes" (listen on their myspace page). For  those that don't know, these are certain female body parts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My LP Collection



I'm going to add a special little section over there on the right where I feature a random record from my LP collection that I'm very excited about. This week I will feature two. People love to get rid of LPs for cheap, so they're easy to come by, so my collection is random and hysterical.  You should see some of these covers.

I've been collecting records since I lived in Washington D.C. in 2003. I was interning for  Smithsonian Folkways, the Smithsonian's record label.  They also run Global Sounds, an itunes for the Smithsonian's record collection and all around music education site. They have some amazing things, a lot of international music, folk musics of the world and singer/songwriter types. Lucinda Williams was on Folkways for awhile. I spent a lot of time with the LPs in the archives. It was just cool being around them..

Anyway, I've bought records for 10 cents, bought records that the Library was selling for $1, found records on the side of the road, and stolen some from my Dad (with his blessing). I'm in the middle of finding the perfect record player (I left the one I got for free in Austin, it was big and crappy) but have been playing them on a friends player.  And I'm adding more pretty often. Like yesterday someone left some out for giveaway downstairs from where I work. 

Two featured LPs from Jamie's collection:
(Just a disclaimer, they are random.  I'll add a song to the playlist over on the right too.)

Fiddler on the Roof Original Film Soundtrack - 2 Record Set, Music Adapted and Conducted by John Williams, 1971. My friends Serena at Grass Routes Travel gave it to me. She writes Eco-Tourism books and is teaching me how to make a t-shirt quilt.

Faith George Michael 1987 featuring "Father Figure" and "I Want Your Sex" I think I found this one on the street in Berkeley. It has a 99 cents price tag on it.  I love me some George Michael.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Palestine and Israel - Hevenu Shalom Alechem/ Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam

Who's in the mood to hear about some Jewish/Muslim collaboration for a change?  I sure am.

Since going to Israel two years ago (I can't believe it's been that long) I am even more thoroughly convinced that there is no right and wrong when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian situation. At this point it's more like mafia warfare that anything else. The resentment and fear runs so deep that there seems to be no hope in sight.

As I Jew I cannot help but to feel sympathy and cultural understanding for Israel. I have family there that I love very much, and I know how they have grown up in a world where you might lose your life walking across the street. And as a human being and as part of a people who was once victim to genocide, I feel the Palestinian struggle as well.

One thing that most people can agree upon is that the leaders of these two peoples cannot seem to make it work. There have been so many misteps along the way (that I will not get into here) that you can't help but wonder who on earth these people are and how they can sleep at night.

Most Israelis and Palestinians just want to live their lives in peace and most of them do, together, side by side.

I wanted to post this song as tribute to the power of two warring peoples coming together to make art and music. It's sung in both Hebrew and Arabic called Hevenu Shalom Alechem ("We brought Peace among us" in Hebrew) & Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam ("There is Nothing more Beautiful than Peace" in Arabic).  And I have to say, Other than Souad Massi, I'm new to listening to Arabic being sung, I think it's gorgeous!



If you want to help, my advice to you is go to Israel and the West Bank if you can (especially the West Bank, so many people go to Israel and don't make it to the West Bank, there are organizations that will take you for free), talk to as many people as you can including Jews and Muslims. 

But if that's not possible, talk to people at home. If you hear someone taking sides, talk to them about it. The only thing that will save this situation is communication, whether it be artistic or simple conversation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Best Channukah Music Ever: Erran Baron Cohen and Y-Love


In honor of the last night of Channukah (and not a moment too soon) I bring you the best Channukah music ever (even thought that's not saying much, most of it is pretty lame) Erran Baron Cohen's Hanukah Songs in the Key of Life. (And for those of you that don't know, there is no correct spelling for Channukah/Hanukah, it's whatever you prefer.)

Sorry this is coming at you with a whole year to go at this point, but it's worth it.

Erran Baron Cohen is the brother of Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, The Ali G Show, etc.) and composed for his brother's show and movie.  He was recently commissioned by the Kazakhstan Philharmonic Orchestra to compose a piece for them after the release of his brother's movie Borat. Cohen studied Kazakhstani folk instruments so that he could incorporate them into his piece.

This is Cohen, Jules Brookes and hasidic rapper Y-Love on the Conan O'Brien Show. Y-Love feel styles in Arabic, Hebrew, English, Yiddish, Aramaic, and more.



The rest of the album consists of covers of traditional Channukah songs and originals featuring vocalists Idan Raichel (an Israeli artist that I hold near and dear to my heart and will soon blog about),  Avivit Caspi, Dana Kerstein and Yasmin Levy.  The musical stylings range from Middle Eastern to klezmer and hip hop to rock.

Check out his interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" here

Buy the CD for next year here. check out his myspace page here

I've also added "Dreidel" to my playlist as well as the tune "O Kazakhstan" that Cohen composed for the movie Borat, just because it's hilarious.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Famous Christmas Songs written by Jewish Songwriters



It's 12:05 AM on December 26th, so I'm not really too late for this one...

I found this fun list of famous Christmas songs written by Jewish songwriters. This blog has fun facts and audio clips!

1) White Christmas - Irving Berlin

2) Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer - Johnny Marks (most likely not his real name/spelling)

3) Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - Julius Kerwin Stein and Samuel Cohen

4) Silver Bells - Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

5) You're a Mean one Mr. Grinch - Albert Hague in 1966 (with words/lyrics by Dr. Seuss

So like other Jews on Christmas, I spend it with my lovely cousins, opening presents with Christmas celebrating relatives and at the movies. I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and I loved it. Omigawd, I think I'm becoming a Brad Pitt fan.

Happy Holidays everyone and have a good new year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Israeli Music - Part 1: Shotei Ha'Nevuah (Fools of Prophecy)


Happy Channukah!  I always feel especially Jewish this time of year, so I figured I'd take advantage by blogging about my favorite Israeli music; something I've been meaning to do for a while.  And there's a certain Texan that I know will be interested...

I'm going to start of this three part installation with a group that my Israeli cousin turned me onto almost two years ago (I can't believe it's been that long since I visited): Shotei Ha-Nevuah or the "Fools of Prophecy."  (their myspace page)

My favorite Shotei Ha'Nevuah song is called "Kol Galgal" meaning "The Sound of  Circle" or even "The voice of the wheel" (Hebrew speakers correct me here, my Hebrew skills have long since declined since my Bat Mitzvah, and I don't trust the internet). It's one of the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard. My aunt said that she's never heard Hebrew sound so beautiful.

The lyrics come straight of the Kaballah, the book of Jewish mysticism:

THE SOUND OF A CIRCLE

The sound of a circle rolls upwards from below,
obscure chariots going and revolving

The sound of melodies goes up and down
it goes and wanders in the world.

The voice of a shofar extends
through the depths of stairs,
and the circle spins around.
That's the sound,
the sound of a circle going up and down.


I also found another translation here.

Here is a video someone put together of rather nice beach shots in Tel Aviv.  They have a pretty gorgeous beach actually, one of the nicest ones I've been to that's still so urban. Maybe it helps that it's on the Mediterranean sea... I also found an awesome live version here (with a 100 person choir). 




"Kol Galgal" is nothing like the rest of Shotei Ha'Nevuah's music.  Usually it's more upbeat, and is a sort of "world fusion" (I hate that term) hip hop. I really don't know how else to explain it.

This a tune called "Ein Ani" (No, I):



This is a funny video I found of "Ha'yeladim Koftzim" (The Children Are Jumping ) that some kids made. I just like watching these silly teenagers dance around in funny hats. And WOW do they have amazing hair...



Anyway, stay tuned for a couple more bands and HAPPY CHANNUKAH or happy Christmahanukwanzikah.  

And more importantly, a happy new year.  

p.s. oh, I added  "follower" widget over on the right there.  Sign up if you feel like it.  It will make me feel loved.  :)

p.p.s. No one took me up on that CD mix that I'd say I would make for you if you wanted.  I was serious about that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Cadillac Records": Chess Records Biopic




I know a lot of people are sick and tired of biopics, but I love them.  Especially the musical ones.  

Lucky for me, Yahoo! News just reported that Beyonce gained 15 lbs to play Etta James in "Cadillac Records," a movie about Chess Records. She still looks thin to me, but whatever, this article alerted me to it's holiday release and I can't wait.  

Check out this cast: Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, Beyonce as Etta James, Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon and Mos Def to play Chuck Berry.

Chess Records has always held a special place in my heart.  To begin with, Chess was of course the home of some of the most talented and innovative pioneers of rock'n'roll, R&B, blues and early soul: Chuck Berry, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Little Walter, Koko Taylor and Big Bill Broonzy just to name a few.  

Without Chess Records and Leonard and Phil Chess, I would argue that American music today would not be the same.  I'd imagine that many of these artists would have been signed by other labels, but the Chess brothers had insight into African American music that proved to be spot on.  They created an insular environment of competition and creativity among their Chicagoan cliental. (There are great stories about the friendly rivalry between Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf and the Chess brothers milking it for every penny.)

Although the relationships between the Chess brothers and their artists were problematic in many ways, they knew their artists and their artists appreciated them.  In her inspiring autobiography "Rage to Survive"  Etta James speaks of how she owes the survival of her career and the mere fact that she is alive today to Leonard Chess and the support he provided her.  Chess stood by and supported her through years and years of substance abuse and wreckless living.  She was even able to keep her house in Los Angeles because part of it was in his name, a move otherwise thought to be against ones best interests.

Chess Records also embodies a small but important corner of American Music history that I have thought long and hard about- the Jewish American and African American musical partnership (a possible future dissertation topic if my life ever blows that way).  Sure, the Chess brothers were the business men and the artists were African American, and the relationships were problematic in many ways as many business partnerships are, but, they were for the most part successful relationships. The relationships between Jews and African Americans in the music industry were, and still are, very important. Gnarls Barkley, anyone?  

The book "The Record Men: The Chess Brothers and the Birth of Rock & Roll" by Rich Cohen tells the story of Chess Records in many of Leonard Chess' own words, and he was a crass, blunt, all-business SOB.  And I hope Adrien Brody plays him that way, because it's pretty hysterical. 

Like this Leonard Chess quote:
"Schmucko! Why do for others what you can do for yourself! If you spend a buck, make sure you back a buck and a half."
Personally I can't wait to see Mos Def rock out as Chuck Berry and watch Beyonce wail as Etta James.  When Beyonce wants to blow, people step back.

I've added a couple of my favorite Chess Record tracks to my playlist. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Sway Machinery: traditional psychedelic klezmer afrobeat show in San Francisco



Alright, I know that traditional psychedelic klezmer afrobeat doesn't exist as a genre or even as a logical combination of musical sounds or even adjectives in general, but honestly I have no idea how to explain what this band sounds like.  Just like I said in my last post about Dengue Fever, this band has taken the idea of '"world music fusion" to a whole new non-cheesy dimension.  And I'm diggin' it. (Thank god the 90's are over, eh?)

In fact, the song that I'm adding to my playlist over there on the right called "P'sach Lanu Sha'ar" is a little too African sounding (take a special notice to the guitars and some of the horn lines) and it's freaking me out a little, but in a good way.  But honestly, that should be no surprise considering the band consists of musicians that have played with Antibalas and the Arcade Fire to Middle Eastern percussion bands and Brazilian bands. 

I first heard about the Sway Machinery at the South by Southwest Festival in 2006 as part of the JDub records showcase.  But I really took notice when Jeremiah appeared as a featured artist in a documentary about the New York City Jewish Musical Renaissance.  There's one going on, and Matisyahu and Golem are part of it.  I read about this Ethnomusicologist at UCLA that's writing his dissertation on it and there's a class on it, who knew?   

As a vocalist, Jeremiah Lockwood is somewhere between Robert Johnson and my great-great grandmother's Belarusian rabbi. Honestly, I'm a little worried that his super stylized vocals might make me a little crazy, I mean I am a vocal snob, I totally admit it. (I'm a singer, I can't help it! I mean it took me a few years to enjoy Robert Plant and Thom Thorke for petesake!) But, he's just so different and the music is so interesting, I'm completely drawn to it.  He's also worked with Israeli and American collabortive band  Balkan Beat Box. Here's a really neat clip of Jeremiah playing some jewishy-blues in the New York Subway.




If you've been reading this blog for the short time it's been in existence, you've probably noticed my love of afrobeat, and the band Antibalas in particular.  Not every afrobeat band can cut it, but if the horn arrangements are there and the different layers lock in, there's nothing better for me. And with Stuart Bogie (Antibalas) on tenor sax, Colin Stetson on baritone sax (Arcade Fire), Jordan McLean (Antibalas) on trumpet, Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) on drums and , I'm sorry, but I'm just going to have to go.

My great-great-grandmother's rabbi would be proud.

Here's their myspace page and their website (download some tracks) check them out.  And see you at the show.

The Sway Machinery will be playing this Saturday, October 25 at the Elbo Room, local funk band Monophonics to open.  Show at 9:30pm.