Sunday, December 03, 2006

A musical evening at Makor, featuring Chana Rothman, Fools for April, and Odeya

Here’s the announcement concerning this concert (which took place this past Wednesday, November 29, 2006), straight from the November 24, 2006 New York Jewish Week’s Arts Guide:
“Rothman’s songs borrow from Nepal and Thailand to create an urban-influenced reggae, pop, and funk riff on Jewish lessons. Fools for April, a duo featuring C Lanzbom and Dov Rosenblatt, sounds a lot like the music coming from America’s South and folk traditions. Odeya plays jazz, folk, and Middle Eastern music which encompasses the sounds of her Yemenite and Israeli origins.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the music, the part-Hebrew part-English lyrics, and the singing of Chana Rothman, as well as her excellent acoustic-guitar playing. Her band was likewise talented. I’ll keep an eye on her.
Fools for April was a bit big for a duo, having a drummer and a bass player in addition to the guys mentioned above. Among other things, the band can be described as, strictly in alphabetical order, Blue Fringe meets Soul Farm, since the line-up includes Blue Fringe’s acoustic guitarist/lead singer (Dov Rosenblatt) and Soul Farm’s lead guitarist (C Lanzbom). Watching the band run through a sound check while two thirds of the audience walked out gave me some appreciation for just how thick an artist’s skin has to be, and reminded me of Mark's/PsychoToddler's wry remark, some time back, that his band had performed for tens of people.
Fools for April’s music was thoroughly enjoyable English-language secular rock, and didn't sound like either Blue Fringe or Soul Farm. (I guess the guys like a little variety in their music, which is not such a bad idea.) My only major kvetch was my perennial complaint about guitarists who drown out their own voices—I have a strong personal preference for actually being able to hear the words. Other than that, my only problem with their music was that wasn't exactly my speed, literally—as my longtime readers know, and my newer readers are about to find out, I go to rock concerts to dance. :)
Odeya’s music was not all dance music, either. But I found the jazzy musical arrangements fascinatingly complex. I’m keeping an eye on her, too.
Interesting observations, etc.
This is the first time that I’ve ever been unable to figure out how a drummer was playing. I could hear very well that he was using drumsticks, not his bare hands, but I couldn’t see the drumsticks. That didn’t make any sense. So I looked more closely—and saw that his drumsticks were black! That’s one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever seen. Hasn’t it ever occurred to this drummer that there are a few music fans out there who enjoy actually watching musicians play? Black drumsticks are almost invisible. What is this guy, a stealth drummer?
Speaking of watching musicians, Odeya’s percussionist—not the drum-set drummer, but the person who was playing every other kind of percussion—was a trip and a half to watch. How he managed to play a “flat drum” (?)—one of those thin, hand-held drums that look like tambourines without the metal parts that rattle—with one hand, and a knee-held bongo-type drum with the other hand at the same time is beyond my comprehension. Better yet, he sometimes played a big bongo with special brushes that were much wider and made from a different material than drum-set brushes. That’s a technique that I’ve never seen, and it certainly produced a sound very different from what one gets by drumming on a bongo with the hands. More interesting still, he was able to create yet another completely different sound by striking one brush, which was already sitting on the bongo drumhead, with the other.
Then there was my little comedy of errors. There was a sound coming out of the rhythm section that I simply couldn’t trace. It didn’t sound like a drum sound because the tuning was far too clear—those were definable notes. It took me three songs to realize that the sound was coming from the bass guitar. How embarrassing. I think I didn’t recognize the sound partly because the bass player frequently played quite high up in the bass’s range, and partly because the arrangements were really complex. I haven’t listened to enough jazz, apparently.
The “rock star” :)
This is another thing that I’ve never seen: C Lanzbom showed up with three—count ‘em, three—guitars. It gets better, folks—he also brought his own on-stage assistant. Between songs, he and the assistant would swap guitars, and the assistant would tune while C played. At the end of the concert, the assistant walked out with two (all three?) of the guitars slung over his shoulders. Now I’ve seen everything.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for writing that up! sounds like makor has some awsome things going on...

you wrote that during fools for april's soundcheck, 2/3s of the audience walked out - did they come back? did FFA play to an-almost-empty room? do you know why that is?

as for the black drumstick mystery - i believe the colour is a symptom of the fact that they are made from a diff. material... (not wood!)

btw - have you heard the new blue fringe material? what do you think (i loved your post on "hineni.")

Sun Dec 03, 09:22:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Fifth Daughter, you're welcome. Makor has great stuff. Unfortunately, its sponsor, the 92nd St. Y, has sold the building, and plans to move Makor's programming back across town (from its current Upper West Side location) into its main building (at 92nd St. and Lexington Ave. on the Upper East Side). Where the concerts will take place while a new space is being renovated, I haven't a clue. :(

I'm sorry to say that the audience did not return--Fools for April played to a crowd of only about 40 people. The "second shift" didn't arrive until Odeya's set.

Oh, great, yet another way to waste a non-renewable resource. :( What's wrong with drumsticks made of wood?

I haven't heard the new Blue Fringe music yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Sun Dec 03, 06:29:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear of a lot of interesting musical stuff going on at Makor every now and again, and was there once, years ago. Nowadays, going into the city from here in Queens seems like a mythical dream. Of course, RaggedyDad does it every day for work . . Glad you enjoyed!

Sun Dec 03, 06:55:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Sheyna said...

Now we have to figure out how to get what sounds like some really cool bands to head over here to the frozen tundra. ;-)

I now have Moshe Skier: Rock of Sages on my wish list!

Sun Dec 03, 08:40:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so the black drumstix are made of a synthetic, more durable material. the wood ones get destroyed easily - either broken or just chewed up/splintered from use (like on the hihats) so drummers want something more durable, that they don't need to replace after every gig...

BF put up 2 new songs on their myspace page. so far, i really like what i'm hearing... and they also played their new version of "eshet chayil" on the sameach podcast. you can even watch them play it, as the video of it is up on youtube. (my G-d, i sound like their PR person, ha!) i really love the lyrics Dov wrote for eshet chayil...

Mon Dec 04, 06:18:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RaggedyMom, if you can get RaggedyDad to hold the fort, I'll be dancing my last dance (well, actually, it's the second one I choreographed) at Girls' Night On at Makor this Wednesday night. Go West, young woman--come on over the East River to Manhattan and catch my act (along with plenty of others, most more talented than I)! I'd love to see you there!

Sheyna, too bad your community only supports the already-rich-and-famous. :( It would be nice if someone would hire Mark and his Merry Men for a gig. In the meantime, his CD is very nice, indeed, and comes highly recommended by yours truly.

Fifth Daughter, I hadn't thought about the wear-and-tear problem. Oh, well. Um, I might be able to figure out how to get to Sameach from her, but could you please give Ms. Lost-in-(Cyber)-Space here some traffic directions to Blue Fringe's MySpace and YouTube pages? I have no idea how to access specific people's pages. I'm really a newbie at this.

Mon Dec 04, 07:13:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


here's eshet chayil:

here's them playing city of gold:

(the sound quality if pretty bad - it's much better on the podcast here:

enjoy. and i'd love to hear your thoughts...

Mon Dec 04, 08:12:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks for the guided tour, Fifth Daughter. I've saved the Blue Fringe MySpace and Sameach Podcast websites (pages?) to my Bookmarks/Favorites.

Wow, "Anayni" is a beauty.

Mon Dec 04, 11:14:00 PM 2006  

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