Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Erev Lag B'Omer concert in Greenwich Village, New York City

Business-and-pleasure first: I strongly recommend that contemporary Jewish popular music lovers in the New York City metropolitan area subscribe to Gili Houpt's NYCJewishMusic e-mail list. This is the third Jewish rock concert that I've attended in the past couple of months because of information I received in his e-mails.

So there I was, standing on the corner of Sullivan and 3rd Streets in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, trying to decide whether or not it was dark enough yet to be Lag B'Omer, as I'd been wandering around the Village for half an hour and wanted to sit down in the Lion's Den and enjoy the canned music until the show started without violating the traditional Sefirah restrictions. Then I saw a guitar-toting guy head down the block. When I saw him at the club's door, I figured, "If it's late enough for him, it's late enough for me," and went in.

Let me take a moment to give my female readers fair warning never to wear uncomfortable shoes to the Lion's Den, because, while the room's capacity may be listed as 400, there probably aren't even 50 seats in the whole place, including bar stools. This room is made for dancin', and that's just what I'll do . . . :)

Having concluded that the negative attitude toward Jewish musicians playing secular music that I'd had at the Jewzapalooza concert last September was ridiculous, I decided to sit back and enjoy Soul Farm's mostly-secular rock performance. Which I did. Thoroughly. This show was completely different from the one that band founders guitarist and lead singer Noah Solomon Chase and singer and lead guitarist C. Lanzbom had done at the April concert at Yeshiva University. That performance had emphasized Jewish music. In this performance, the music was about 85% secular. But who cared? C. Lanzbom is quite a talented electric rock guitarist. He even used, in some of the songs, some kind of plastic tube over his lefty pinky to play what I can only, with my limited knowledge, describe as "slide" (Hawaiian?) guitar, while leaving his other fingers free to chose notes and/or chords. (This may be old hat to guitarists, especially country-western ones, but I've certainly never seen that done before.) In full-band mode, backed up by a drummer, bass player, and electric rhythm-guitar player, he was having a grand time doing his rock-star thing, which is a bit showy for my own personal taste, but not illegal. Fortunately for the Punster, who was teaching a class last night, the show started so late that he was able to schlep an hour on the subway and still get there in time to catch the last two or three Soul Farm songs. We both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and danced our feet off, as usual. I'm happy to report that we weren't the only couple over fifty making fools of ourselves on the dance floor. :)

Next up was a rock band that was, at least in part, considerably older than than audience. The lead guitarist, one Yossi Piamenta, even came complete with gray hair and beard, and the lead singer, one Moni Piamenta seemed to be in the same ballpark, age-wise. Drummer Aasf Shor was rather younger, in a t-shirt. For me, though, the surprise of the evening was the bass player, who was dressed more in keeping with the location than with the mostly-Orthodox audience, in low-slung jeans with an inch or two of skin showing. I remarked to my husband that she looked young enough to be Yossi's daughter. Well, low and behold, two or three songs into the set, which the bass player was obviously enjoying immensely, Yossi dedicated a song to his daughter, whose name I think he gave as "Gelli," and the bass player grinned from ear to ear. (Evidently, the family that plays together stays together. :)) She took a solo during that song, and a couple other times as well, and suffice it to say that she's clearly inherited her father's talent, in spades. Holy Moses, what a phenomenal electric rock guitarist Yossi Piamenta is! (Apparently, he's been nicknamed "the Jewish Jimi" [Hendrix]). He's also a very gracious musician, happy to invite first C. Lanzbom and then Noah Solomon Chase to perform with him. And, lest we miss the opportunity, he personally led us in the brachah (blessing) for, and the counting of, the Omer.

Here are a couple of reactions.

My husband was not quite as crazy about the Piamenta performance, and, in the final analysis, neither was I, not because Yossi isn't phenomenally talented, but because we both tend to prefer songs that are actually sung. Neither of us is really that much into songs that have a minute and a half's worth of words followed by 10 minutes worth of instrumental solos. We can't sing along with them, and they're harder to dance to, as well. If you're absolutely bonkers about wild instrumental solos, the Piamentas are definitely for you. But if you prefer songs with lyrics, they may not be quite your cup of tea.

Another interesting thing about this concert--and the reason why I finally ended up at the front of the room, even though my ears paid the price (I can't figure out how to use the current generation of earplugs)--was watching the musicians perform, which I love to do. There were times when it almost appeared that C. and Noah were actually watching each other's fingering to ensure that their playing would be in musical synch. C. and Yossi faced each other for a while, too. Even watching Soul Farm do a little "jam" as a warm-up, and watching Gelli Piamenta and the Piamentas' drummer, Asaf Shor, riff off each other while everyone was tuning up, was fun. (Drummers seem to have "'Energizer bunny' syndrome"--they just keep going and going, always eager to play another "lick.") I get a real kick out of watching musicians perform, all the more so when they're really getting "into" one another's playing.

I hope to see some of you on Thursday, May 25, Yom Yerushalayim, at CODA, 34 East 34th Street (at Madison Avenue) at 7:30 PM, when Teva, Heedoosh, and Blue Fringe perform. You can have a lot of fun for $15.

P.S. This morning, having put my CDs back into my backpack and my CD player back into its carrying case, I decided to do a "kol isha (women's voices)" party as a change of pace after last night's all-male-voices concert, and chose my Debbie Friedman, Neshama Carlebach, and Smadar CDs for my first "listens" since putting away my music for Sefirah. I got "guilt tripped" almost immediately when I heard Debbie Friedman sing "Yotzer Or," because I hadn't davvened Shacharit (prayed the Morning Service). One of these days, maybe I'll get yet another rolling backpack, this one big enough to accommodate my tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (phylacteries) so that I'll be able to take them to work with me after morning minyan instead of leaving them in my "minyannaire's cubby" in syngagogue and won't have any more excuse not to davven Shacharit at home when I don't go to morning minyan.


Blogger Unknown said...

I heard Lanzbom & Solomon once - they're really great, and I remember noticing the looking at each other's fingering as well.

Yossi Piamenta - interesting, amazing guitarist. I remember him playing with his tongue...

Wed May 17, 06:16:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not just get a 2nd set of tallit/tefillin, and save yourself the shlepping?

Wed May 17, 10:38:00 AM 2006  
Blogger drumbumJ said...

please post a detailed review of the CODA show. i was supposed to be in NYC that week and catch the show and had to cancel last minute :-( i'm specifically interested in blue fringe's set and i always love your write-ups. you know that they have another show that day (night?) in woodmere WITH MOSHAV BAND (have you seen them live lately - i just saw them on pesach at the dead sea and they were un-freakin-believable).

you're my eyes and ears,

Wed May 17, 03:28:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon., my current set of tefillin, purchased two years ago, cost me $275. They're not paying me enough that I can spend $275 + inflation without feeling it. On the plus side, I already have a second tallit.

" . . . playing with his tongue..."?! Gross!

Ezzie, maybe it wasn't my imagination, after all, that C and Noah were checking each other's fingering. They seem to be really well clued in to each other musically. I guess that happens when you play music with the same person for years.

Drumbumj, I can't guarantee how detailed my review will be, but I'll see what I can arrange.

I've never heard the Moshav Band live. That would be neat.

Wed May 17, 11:25:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Michy said...

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Sun Jul 30, 02:17:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Will do, after Tisha B'Av.

Mon Jul 31, 01:23:00 AM 2006  

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