Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gospel Brunch in Austin, Texas - my Masters Report


The Shields of Faith perform at Gospel Brunch - Stubbs in Austin, Texas

In 2006, I wrote a 100 page book in partial fulfillment of my Master's Degree in Ethnomusicology (the anthropology of music) about Gospel Brunch in Austin, Texas. It's called "If Church was like this, I'd go Every Sunday". For the last five years, it's been sitting in the University of Texas at Austin's library on a CD (they didn't even make me print it).

About a month ago, I was finally inspired to actually print the thing out. I made two copies: one for me and one for the Austin Public Library. On my visit to Austin, I saw the record, it's officially in the system!

I've also posted it for download if you were so inclined.


My Masters report on official record at the Austin Public Library

Why Gospel Brunch? Every House of Blues across the country has an brunch buffet and gospel show every Sunday morning. And other than a couple other venues (like the Cotton Club in New York) the House of Blues is about it... except in Austin, where there are three every weekend.

Maria's Taco Express Hippie Gospel Church in South Austin

The research for this paper was really fun, every Sunday morning I would head down to one of three spots: Stubb's, Threadgill's (the South Austin location) or Maria's Taco Xpress (the old location). This little Jewish girl would settle into some good food, booze (sometimes) and music about Jesus.

The three venues couldn't be more different. As you can see from the photos, Maria's is full of wonderful dancing hippies and the bands are mostly non-religious bands singing Bob Dylan tunes, traditionals and spiritually themed original songs. Stubb's is more likely to hire Evangelical bands coming from the Salvation Army. Threadgill's was somewhere in the middle. It was fun to compare and contrast the venues.

The Shields of Faith perform at Gospel Brunch at Stubb's

One chapter is about the City of Austin, and why it has grown to be a cultural and liberal oasis in one of the most conservative states in the country. I even got to mention Janis Joplin's brief stint in Austin before she headed to San Francisco.


I wrote a chapter on the history of African American scared music outside of the church. One of the more interesting examples I discussed was how Northern abolitionists used African American spirituals for humanitarian purposes pre-civil war. From the Tuskegee University Choir to Ray Charles changing gospel tunes into secular ones, there is a pattern of African American sacred music being used outside sacred spaces for various purposes. Pairing the music with a brunch buffet on a Sunday morning is no exception.


LZ Love performs at Maria's Taco Xpress

One of the wonderful things about being an ethnomusicologist is talking to people. Through hours of interviews I found out why Austinites would come to these venues on Sunday mornings to listen to religious and sacred music, instead of being at church.


The youngest member of the Shields of Faith

I was curious as to why Evangelical musicians would leave the church and perform in secular venues for beer drinking heathens (my words!) and why non-Christains like myself are so drawn to this music.

One of the more interesting moments of my research was when an 80-year-old reverend told me in an indirect way, that as a non-believer, I was going to hell. But, and I really do say this in most sincere way, he meant it in the nicest way possible (as someone who I saw being genuinely concerned for my soul). It was at that point that the hour long interview ended and we went to a fish fry. It was a relief.


Rose, my favorite Hippie Church dancer at Maria's Taco Xpress.

Just last Sunday, I headed down to Threadgill's for Gospel Brunch. I'm glad to see Gospel Brunch at all three venues is still going strong, and six years later, many of the same bands are still in rotation. The food is good and the music is great. What else could you want on a Sunday morning?

Anyway, if you are at all interested in check out my report, you can download the pdf here, or get a hard copy from the Austin Public Library.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

E-chat with Sam Strelkoff, San Francisco native member of Naval Academy Men's Glee Club: performance at Grace Cathedral in SF


I really enjoy conducting interviews with folks who might not do many interviews, or folks that are off the beaten path of popular music (and by that I mean ANYTHING that is popular, classical or rock related). I also really like doing interviews where the music has some higher purpose or a greater context.

This interview with Bay Area native Sam Strelkoff, member of the Naval Academy Men's Glee Club, is the second interview I've done with someone who is in the world of the military (read my interview with Marine Band Staff Sergent and friend clarinetist Harry Ong) and I find the perspectives of these individuals very inspiring.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE INTERVIEW

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Presenting The Cathedral of Christ the Light: a new stunning venue for choral and organ music



Today my parents and I stopped into The Cathedral of Christ the Light located about half-a-mile from my house. This cathedral was under construction when I moved to Oakland over two years ago and it opened a little over a year ago. I went inside soon after it opened and thought it would be a good place for music, but was disappointed by the lack of music on the calendar. Well, today, I found the schedule and I'm so excited about a venue like this being so close to my house!

For those of you that know me, you know that I'm a nice Jewish girl that LOVES music about Jesus. No apologies here! For those of you that are new to this blog, get used to it (I wrote my Master's report on the commercialization of gospel music).

Check out my examiner.com article and see what amazing concerts the Bay Area has in store: Bach, Rachmaninoff (The Vespers! Hear a selection down below) and choirs like Chanticleer and the Oakland Symphony Chorus as well as groups that I didn't know about like the Pacific Boys Choir and the California State University East Bay Singers.

READ MY EXAMINER.COM ARTICLE HERE

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.

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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I-LOVE-THIS: Sonseed merch!


Okay, first of all, if you haven't seen the video, PLEASE watch it. And read my previous blog entry if you need any help in deciphering why this is so amazing (I am not being facetious, I really do think this is awesome music, there are just some VERY humorous things about it).



Now, take a look at all of these awesome t-shirts and other merch.  While they are all cool, this one above is the only one with a v-neck, the most horrible neckline to ever grace the fashion world (especially on men, sorry!) but is totally appropriate for this 70s fabulous fashion.  

I believe this will be more popular than "Jesus is my Homeboy." I *almost* wish I was a believer so I could get in on this.

But until then: ZAP!

Thank you Dougsploitation, thank you for making my year.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Missed African Music Shows: The Soweto Gospel Choir and Cesaria Evora


While I'm so happy to be in Australia this week visiting family and friends, I am sorry to report that I am missing two beautiful shows.

Singer Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde will be performing at the Zellerbach Auditorium in Berkeley, California on October 9th and 10th as part of the Cal Performances Season. Go HERE for details. I've never seen her before, but I've heard that she's amazing live.

Evora sings mouna which can be described as a soulful genre unique to the archipelago (off the West Coast of Africa) that fuses Latin jazz and Afro beats with traces of Portuguese fado and Brazilian modinha (ballads).

Here's her myspace page, and a youtube video of my favorite song, "Sodade." Love the cigarette!

I will also be missing the Soweto Gospel Choir performing in Palo Alto, California on October 7th at the Memorial Church as part of the Stanford Lively Arts series. This group fuses two of my favorite "genres" of music, gospel and african music and understandably, each time I've seen this group ( once at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest in 2003 and once in San Antonio in 2007), I've ended up a soggy, weepy mess on the floor with goosebumps: This nice jewish girl loves her gospel music!

They get a little cheesey for my taste sometimes when they sing in English and include synth keyboards, but they also break out into dance on some numbers. I prefer the a capella numbers.

Here's the Soweto Gospel Choir's website. Notice that they will be continuing their 2008 tour into the Midwest, East Coast, Canada, back to Southern California and then it looks like Europe too (maybe there are two choirs touring at the same time?). Check out their touring schedule if you're interested.

Here's a youtube video that gives you a pretty good idea of what they sound and look like.

I've added a couple songs on my playlist over to the right, take a listen!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The best Christian Ska in the World: ZAP!


For those of you who haven't seen this video yet, PLEASE do yourself a favor and watch it. I don't care if you are Christian or not, either way, this is one of the best things I've seen in a long time. And thank you to Dougsploitation for finding this in his collection of VHS and posting it on the web.

Introducing Sonseed and their number one hit "Jesus is My Friend": the best Christain Ska band in the world! Too bad they could cross over into the mainstream like Creed or Jars of Clay (who I happen to like). Did you know that according to wikipedia, there are dozens of Christian ska bands. Who knew?

As a good friend said, there is so much to say about this video:

- The hairdo's, clothes and backdrop. I love pink and blue, don't you? The 70s were fantastically pastel!
- The lyrics:
He taught me how to praise my god and still play rock and roll.

Once I tried to run, once I tried to hide,
But Jesus found me and touched me deep down inside.

He is like a mounty, he always gets his man
and he'll zap you anyway he can.

(wait for it...)

ZAP!!
- The realization that this is actually catchy and the band is totally tight!
- Watch the guitarist. He's totally rocking out.
And last but not least...
- Gotta love those backup singers. Especially the glasses.
- The tv host calling the performance "beautiful" at the end.
For those of you who want more Sonseed, you can download the entire album here. I honestly haven't listened to it yet, but when I do, I will get back to you.

For those of you who want to here some "traditional" British Ska, here's "Too Much Too Young" from the Specials.