Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yosef Karduner in concert at the Carlebach Shul

I gotta check out the Carlebach Shul's website more often. They sponsor some pretty interesting concerts. The Punster and I have attended a couple of them, making the musical acquaintance of Ruby Harris and Soul Farm band leaders C. Lanzbom and Noah Solomon.

Yosef Karduner (Car-due-ner) is an Israeli acoustic-guitar-playing singer/songwriter of Jewish folk music, rather in the mold of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach himself, which made his appearance at Carlebach's shul last night all the more appropriate. I first heard him sing on MOChassid's CD, "U'Shmuel B'korei Sh'mo," and liked his song, "Haaleinu," very much. Apparently, a lot of people like his songs very much--the concert was standing-room-only.

Karduner apologized for his English, which was, I suppose, no worse than my Hebrew. (Oy). He introduced some of the songs he was singing, doing a nice job of mixing the two languages. He also spoke of learning to play guitar from books at the age of thirteen, and of how he almost gave up playing after becoming a baal t'shuvah (a person not raised Orthodox who chooses to become Orthodox). Fortunately, some of his friends got really upset with him for giving up the music scene. Apparently, that made him reconsider. After two months of not touching a guitar, he decided to try writing what I guess I'd call "religious folk music" instead.

As usual, I recognized a lot of the lyrics from the prayers or psalms that Karduner set to music, but few of the lyrics of the songs based on texts from rabbinic literature. I also noticed, after the first couple of songs, that Karduner often starts slow, but, in many of his songs, he gets up to "clapping speed"--and dancing speed--later. So, of course, I was havin' a rockin' good time in the back of the room, dancing on three legs, so to speak. (During the hakafot at Ansche Chesed, one of the teenagers from the West Side Minyan joked with me that, contrary to my statement that I was having a grand ole time dancing on one foot, the cane made it three feet, as in the old joke about the three stages of humankind--first, we "walk" on four legs, then on two, then on three. Oy. I'm there, already?)

Concerts at the Carlebach Shul can sometimes be fairly informal affairs. When Ruby Harris came to play, he invited just about every musician who walked through the door to come up and join him. Same here. One gentleman picked up a tamborine for a time. Then another was introduced, and joined Karduner in song.

About halfway through the concert, the master of ceremonies (or whatever) announced that another musical guest had arrived--and proceeded to introduce the tall, lanky fellow in the baseball cap who was walking down the aisle as Matisyahu. Oh, yeah, sure. . . Wait a minute . . . He's serious??! Holy Moses, it really is Matisyahu!

Well, I know that Matisyahu has gotten a certain amount of bad press in the Jewish blogosphere lately. (It seems to me that there were some questions about the manner in which he terminated his contract with JDub Records, but I can't find the post I read that discussed the matter.) In any case, I'm just not into reggae--I prefer songs whose lyrics I can actually understand. But still, as long as he'd shown up (presumably for free), I wasn't going to argue. Matisyahu did a little harmony, but mostly provided a lot of vocal percussion (also known as "beat boxing," these days?), which livened things up nicely. He sat with his head down the entire time, apparently not wishing to steal the limelight from Karduner. The two of them seemed to be having as enjoyable a time sharing the music as the audience was having listening to it.

The concert was still going strong when I left at 11:40 PM. I hated to go, but it's a long trip from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to my apartment in the wilds of outer borough.

If you enjoy Jewish folk music and you have an opportunity to hear Yosef Karduner live or can fit a CD or two into your budget, I certainly recommend that you do so.


Blogger Eliyahu said...

nice! thanks for the report; only wish i could have been there.

Fri Oct 19, 12:54:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

You're welcome. Sorry I can't arrange that.

Fri Oct 19, 02:06:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, wish I could've been there.I've just started listening to Yosef Karduner recently after a friend showed me his famous video of Shir Lama'alot on youtube.I immediately went out and bought his album "Roadmarks/The whole world" and I absolutely love it.In fact I love it so much that I went and bought his new album "Mikdash Melech" and another album "Bechira".I seriously can't get enough of this beautiful music.He is truly a gifted musician and it's wonderful to find kosher music that is so enjoyable to listen to.I highly recommend anyone interested in listening to uplifting Jewish music to go out and buy one of his albums.

Mon Jun 30, 04:08:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Karduner's music is beautiful, indeed. Enjoy!

Mon Jun 30, 11:48:00 PM 2008  

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