Monday, March 19, 2007

Sign on shop door: Gone dancin' :)

I left the poor Punster, CPA, facing piles of tax returns, and made my way, gingerly, over the three inches of snow at every street corner to go to a concert at Makor because the Moshav Band was in town. I've wanted to see them ever since I bought their "The Best of Moshav Band: Higher and Higher" album, which gave me pause during last summer's war in Israel. I also wanted to give the opening band, Heedoosh, a second chance after last year's mix-up.

For the benefit of those within hailing distance of Manhattan, the scene at Makor on Saturday night is totally different than during the week. In the interest of cramming in as many people as possible, almost all the tables and chairs are removed from the room--this, I remembered from our previous Saturday-night outing there--so I wore a jeans skirt, just in case I wanted to join the mixed (no mechitzah) multitude sitting on the floor. (Next time, I'm cheating and bringing my own water bottle--I spent 10 minutes of the intermission just trying unsuccessfully to get a drink! It would probably help if they had more help behind the bar.) You should also be aware that Makor is even more of a young and/or singles scene on a Saturday night that on a weeknight, if that's possible. :) It goes without saying that I was one of the only two people above forty in the room, as far as I could see. But don't let that stop you--Makor gets some really good musicians.
I'm guessing that the residential-street location has started to create problems in the performance space--the lead singer of Heedoosh announced that, much to the band's surprise, they'd been asked to perform without a full drum set. The drummer played mostly a knee-held bongo, plus a small snare drum (with drumsticks with some kind of padding on the ends) and a half-sized cymbal.
Heedoosh was delightful, a bit off-beat, and eminently "danceable" if anyone else had been dancing at the time. Unfortunately, the room was so crowded that I couldn't get my usual spot in the back for discrete rocking out, so, being up front, I tried to semi-behave myself. Too bad they didn't bring any CDs to sell--I certainly would have bought one.
The Moshav Band was a bit better prepared for the circumstances, as lead singer Yehuda announced that this stop was part of an acoustic tour. 'Course, the term "acoustic" is a bit elastic, these days--the acoustic guitar and the violin were both amplified, and the bass was electric, not "stand-up" (orchestral, whatever). But the only drum was the bongo that Yehuda kept shifting from between his knees to tucked in one elbow.
Okay, enough technicalities. Nu, the performance, already? In a word, wow! They started off with havdalah (over a bottle of beer, two candles held together, and what appeared to be an herbal teabag used for v'samim [spices]), then dove right into their "Eliyahu HaNavi." They played songs that I know from the "Best of" CD (including "Come Back," which I love, "Don't Give Up," and "Heart is Open"), and a number of songs that I'd never heard before, as well. Things got particularly lively after a young fellow with a colorful Bukharan kippah on his head rudely pushed his way all the way to the front of the room. I was quite annoyed until I realized why he'd done that--he was one of those "mosh pit" specialists who likes dancing "for the house." Well, I'll say this for exhibitionists--they sure do break the ice. Within minutes, he was joined by a young lady, then the dancers broke up into men's and women's groups. (The dancing wasn't exactly modest, but there was no touching between the sexes.) It got to be quite a fun scene, especially during the middle-eastern-style songs, with all the women (includin' yours truly, in the middle of the audience) snaking their arms. At one point, the band had to catch up with the audience, which kept singing after the alleged end of a song. :)
Moshav Band's music is an interesting mix of Hebrew, English, and the occasional Arabic, religious, personal, and political (of the liberal variety). If Yehuda Solomon ever gets tired of traveling, he's got a wonderful cantorial voice. All of the band members are top notch, so much so that I'm embarrassed to say that it didn't even register with me until after the concert that the mandolin parts were being played by a violinist. (Apparently, Meir Solomon is no longer a regular member of the band, though there's still another Solomon brother, Yosef, playing bass.) And they're a fine group of songwriters, as well--all but two of the thirteen songs on their latest album, which I bought after the show, including the title song, "Misplaced" (about illegal aliens), were written by members of the band. I love this group!
Here's a bonus question for folks in the know. There's Yehuda Solomon, Yosef Solomon, Meir Solomon, Soul Farm band's lead singer/acoustic guitarist/percussionist Noah Solomon Chase, and the daddy of them all, Ben Zion Solomon, guitarist, banjo player, fiddler and singer (formerly of the Diaspora Yeshiva Band). So nu, is the "daddy of them all" quite literally their dad? Um, never mind.
Run, do not walk, and buy at least one Moshav Band CD. Even if you get upset by "lefty" music, there are plenty of other good songs to enjoy.
And give Heedoosh a good hearing. I think we'll be hearing more from them.


Blogger Ezzie said...

"Higher..." :)

Tue Mar 20, 04:23:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love your concert reviews!

Moshav are amazing. funny thing is, i don't view them as "lefty" at all... but i'd still listen to them even if they were.

what's a cryin' shame is that you didn't see them perform with their drummer Karen. OMG. she is unbelievable. i quote the 18 year old boy who was standing next to me while watching her drum solo in "Stand up": "i didn't know girls could play like that!" but next time, hopefully you'll catch one of their fullband shows. these guys are not to be missed. ever.

btw - i knew that BenZion is the dad, but i never saw a pic of them at that age. Oy. how cute are little yehuda, meir, etc?! and just FYI there are another 2 super-musical Solomon brothers: Sruli the mandolinist par excellence (he plays live with them when they come to Israel. i cannot pick my jaw up off of the floor when that boy is playing the mandolin) and Nachman who has his own band called HaMakor. (yes, that is confusing given the venue's name.) they gig around J-m although they were in the US recently at BB KIngs. i pity Nachman for always living in those huge shadows...

anyway, thanks again for the review. look forward to reading more.

Tue Mar 20, 11:19:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Tue Mar 20, 04:26:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...


"It may seem a million miles away
But it gets a little closer every day"

Imagine the Moshav Band singing that ("Don't Give Up") in three-part harmony.

Then imagine *about a hundred people* singing that in three-part harmony. The band couldn't get us to stop! They had to play a few more bars. Ye olde synagogue choir singer was having a blast singing harmony.

Hope Moshav's next NY concert isn't in the middle of tax season, and that you and Serach can get a babysitter.

Julie, I'm glad you enjoy my concert reviews. If I only can find the time before Pesach to review my new CDs . . .

Now I can't wait to see Moshav with Karen at the drums! Next time, maybe. I'll have to wait 'til I'm visiting Israel again to catch Sruli in action, but maybe I'll catch up with Nachman and HaMakor eventually. Thanks for all that neat info.

Tue Mar 20, 10:29:00 PM 2007  

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