Sunday, November 16, 2008

ROC House: Rocking out at Cong. Ramath Orah

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I spotted the following in the NY Jewish Week (Manhattan edition only--it's a good thing we often have access to the Manhattan editiion, in addition to our local one--page 20):

"New Upper West Side Music Venue

Congregation Ramath Orah announces the grand opening of their new Jewish music venue, the ROC House. This coming Saturday night . . . "

Aside from the major detail that the announcement omitted some major details, such as the concert's start time and admission fee . . .

So, after Shabbat, I hopped onto the Ramath Orah website and was out the door in a flash to see Sefarad, Yaakov Chesed, and Blue Fringe at 8 PM for a bank-breaking $16. (How either the synagogue or the bands can make any money with an admission fee that low is beyond my comprehension. I sincerely hope that the ROC House has a sponsor subsidizing the concerts.) Unfortunately, I didn't zip out in quite enough of a flash to catch Sefarad--I caught just the last two songs, which were very nice, indeed--but I did get quite an earful of Yaakov Chesed. And an earful it was, too. Fortunately, I came to the conclusion some time back that the only way to be truly fair to a truly loud band is to buy their CD and listen to their music at the volume that I prefer. (Often, but not always, this method also offers the listener the distinct advantage of actually being able to hear the lyrics.) I haven't heard enough of the album to give a full review, but I must say that their V'Ahavta is quite a fine song.

Yaakov Chesed did provide, in addition to some good music, one of the highlights of the evening when the lead singer announced that the band was going to attempt a switch. So I watched and waiting to see what they had in mind. Well, in the middle of the song, the three "string" players each unstrapped their instruments from around their necks. The lead guitarist crossed to stage left and picked up the bass; the bass player crossed to stage right and picked up the guitar; the lead singer and acoustic-rhythm guitarist walked to the back of the stage and waited patiently by the drum set until he heard the bass player rip a few chords on the lead guitar and the lead guitarist lay down the bass beat, then evicted the drummer, confiscated his drumsticks, and started drumming to beat the band, at which point the drummer moved front and center, grabbed a mike and start singing lead! Great fun was has by all. :)

By the way, if you'd like to catch that bass player ripping a few chords on the lead guitar, hear here. I strongly recommend Aryeh Kunstler's album.)

Blue Fringe has changed some since last I saw them--lead singer/rhythm guitarist Dov Rosenblatt has taken to playing an electric, as opposed to an amplified acoustic, guitar much of the time. Dov seems to particularly enjoy simply running the pick over the strings and letting the sound linger, which creates what I can only describe as a kind of shimmering sound. (I shot a video of just Dov and lead guitarist Avi Hoffman--it was too dark to shoot from the back of the room, and I couldn't really stay up front when the full band was playing, because of the volume--but, unfortunately, even that shot, right up under the lights, came out too dark.) I was glad I caught this new variation on an excellent theme. Good show, literally!

Naturally, I was dancing in the back of the room. There was a group of considerably younger folks dancing back there, too, but I was deliberately staying away from them, lest I interfere with a possible shidduch (matchmaking) scene. Imagine my surprise when the entire group walked over to my side of the room and began dancing behind me! (Eek!) Afterword, a young man complimented me on my dancing. He said I'd been hard to miss because I was wearing pink. Pink?! Okay, I have absolutely no interest in or eye for fashion--I didn't even notice what the other women were wearing. But I must admit that I was really quite taken aback. I'd deliberately chosen a blouse in a very muted shade of pink because it wasn't the least bit see-through and seemed an appropriately modest top to wear to an Orthodox synagogue. So much for my theory that I'd chosen a blouse that wouldn't attract attention.

If you enjoy Jewish rock music and live in the New York City metropolitan, you may wish to keep an eye on the Ramath Orah website--apparently, the ROC House plans to schedule a concert every Saturday night until Pesach! Sadly, the building doesn't seem to be accessible to people with mobility problems--there are several steps at the entrance, and a flight of stairs to descend to the downstairs social hall, in which the concert took place. But, if you can handle stairs, maybe I'll see you there--I'll be the olde dame dancing in the back of the room. :)


Blogger RaggedyMom said...

Sounds like you had a blast. Glad to hear you like Aryeh Kunstler's music. His father and my mother are first cousins!

Mon Nov 17, 10:55:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Neat--yours truly, a non-yeshiva grad, non-alumna of sleep-away camp finally gets to participate in a round of "Jewish Geography." :)

Tue Nov 18, 12:44:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i wanted to go but was off in the wilds of New Jersey. maybe i'll make it to a future week

Wed Nov 19, 12:02:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Steg, maybe I'll see you at a future concert there. I'm hoping my husband won't be too busy preparing for class to come with me next time. Teaching classes from 9 to 3 on Sundays really "kills" his weekend social life. :(

Wed Nov 19, 12:30:00 PM 2008  
Blogger rivkayael said...

The people at the shul call it the "Roach-house" (mis-pronunciation from the brochure's "Rochouse").

Mon Nov 24, 03:29:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Where's a roll-eyes emoticon when I need one? :)

I think Rav Shmuel is supposed to show up at the ROC House on Dec. 7. I hope I'll see you then.

Mon Nov 24, 10:48:00 PM 2008  

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