Monday, September 26, 2005

Yesterday's "Jewzapalooza" concert

One of my girlfriends from shul (synagogue) told a bunch of us about this free concert yesterday in Riverside Park in Manhattan. More’s the pity that only the two of us were available. She and I had a marvelous time, occasional intrusions by politicians making speeches notwithstanding.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a spot in Riverside Park at 72nd Street that had concrete bleachers. Even after over 30 years in New York, I still discover new places. I recommended that we sit in the top row, which was on the same level as the sidewalk, so that I could get up and dance whenever I felt like it. That’s the wonderful thing about being 56 and married 28 years, with my only child away at college and in no position to be embarrassed by his mother’s shenanigans—I don’t have to worry quite as often about making a fool of myself in public. :)

Here are the bands that we heard:

Avishai Cohen, an Israeli-born bassist and composer, was “declared one of the 100 Most Influential Bass Players of the 20th Centurey by Bass Player Magazine.” This band was more M.’s thing than mine—she’s more into jazz.

Joshua Nelson & the Kosher Gospel Singers sang a combination of soul music and shul music. Picture the words “lo yisa goi el goy cherev, lo yim’du od milchama, lo yim’du od milchama” sung to the tune of “I ain’t gonna study war no more, I ain’t gonna study war no more, I ain’t gonna study war no more,” and you’ll get the general idea. A rockin’, toe-tapping, hand-clapping good time was had by all.

Blue Fringe is a band playing a kind of Jewish version of light rock, with lyrics mostly in Hebrew or English/Hebrew combinations. Very nice indeed—I ran right over to the CD booth and bought their latest CD, “70 Faces,” which I just finished listening to for the first time, and which I must declare a very enjoyable addition to my growing Jewish-music CD collection.

Golem is a wonderful klezmer/rock band, a tad on the wild side, which made the show all the more fun. Try them—you’ll like them.

Pharoah’s Daughter plays beautiful songs beautifully. They have a very good band leader and lead singer, Basya Schechter (who also plays oud, guitar, and percussion), and their instrument-playing is delightful. Their music leans heavily toward the Mizrachi and Sefardi, and they performed some lovely Ladino songs at the concert. I bought one of their CDs, too, and, while I was a tad disappointed that this particular album, “Exile,” contained English-language secular music almost exlusively, I must admit that, after a while, I just stopped listening to the words and let myself drown in the music.

Oy Va Voi was the “Surprise Performance” of the evening. They’re quite a rockin’ group. (Sorry, no URL—they weren’t on the printed program.)

Soul Farm was also a terrific band.

Okay, re Avishai Cohen, Oy Va Voi, and Soul Farm, I confess that, when I go to a Jewish concert, I’m more interested in hearing bands that play mostly Jewish music than regular jazz or rock bands whose members happen to be Jewish.

Blackfield, featuring Aviv Geffen & Steven Wilson,, gets a black mark from me. Let me put it to you this way: When the volume is cranked up so high that I don’t need to hear the bass player because I can catch the whole bass line through bone conduction across the rib cage—from, literally, two blocks away . . . We walked out before the end of the set.

Aside from the hearing-loss-inducing final set, the concert was wonderful. Fortunately, M. doesn’t mind my antics—I spent about half of the concert dancing my feet off, and had a grand old time.

Update: Run, do not walk, over to Blue Fringe's music page and listen to and/or download the song "SALAAM" from Blue Fringe's "LIVE IN WHITE PLAINS, NY 10/15/03 With Ruby Harris on violin" performance. Ruby Harris is a wonder at rock violin (not to mention country fiddle--you should hear him on the Diaspora Yeshiva Band's CDs! Mark/PT, who's played gigs with him, recommended The Diaspora Collection) . You can read more about him here and, speaking of Mark playing gigs with him, here.



Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>