WJMF Sound Byte: The Sisters of Sheynville

I’ve been following the cringe inducing news about the federal raid on a kosher meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa. The plant gained notoriety in 2001 thanks to Stephen Bloom’s excellent book Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America which profiled the conflict between the denizens of this small Iowa town and the ultra-orthodox owners and employees of the glatt kosher meat processing plant. The raid, which resulted in the arrest of nearly 400 alleged illegal workers comes hot on the heels of the revelation that an Orthodox Jewish couple that keeps kosher was the source of an early incriminating PETA video that showed inhumane practices in the slaughterhouse.

Sisters of SheynvilleIn short, it has been a bad run for Jews and cows. Which is why it was such a delight to discover this whimsical number by The Sisters of Sheynville who will be performing at the Washington Jewish Music Festival on June 8. The Sisters don’t just revive the swinging yiddish sounds of the Barry Sisters from the 1930s and 40s, but they also bring this style to other classics from that era including I’m An Old Cow Hand– reclaimed from Bing Crosby. Take a listen below, I particularly like the updated lyrics with their references to veganism and being “an old cow maydle, I can spin a dreydle.”

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, The Sisters of Sheynville are yet another rockin’ Canadian band in the Festival. Stay tuned, this will be a theme…

Regina Spektor Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg for the 2008 Washington Jewish Music Festival

I had in my hands for a short little while today the final printer’s proof of the program for the 2008 Washington Jewish Music Festival. It is going to be awesome. The hard copy won’t be back for a couple of days, but you can check out the program on-line here.

The Festival’s opening day is June 1 and if you read regularly, then you already know about Regina Spektor headlining the main stage at the humongous (and free) Israel @ 60 Capital Celebration on the National Mall. Oh yeah, and it also includes Mandy Patinkin–I hear he can sing a little. And Mashina, Israel’s long-standing kings of rock. Oh, and Oscar the Grouch with his Israeli cousin Moishe Oofnik— and we all know that there’s nothing cooler than Sesame Street, and no one kicks it old school better than His Grouchiness.

It is sort of impossible to write an over-view post covering the entire festival, so for the moment I’ll focus on the performer who I think has the most in-common with Regina, and that would be Rachael Sage. Rachael SageShe’ll be performing on Wednesday, June 4 at DC9 Nightclub. Both Regina and Rachael share roots in the New York folk (or anti-folk) scene and combine vivid lyrical styles with a musical adroitness that is at once accessible without sacrificing melodic ambition. What exactly do I mean by that? The music sounds as good as the smart lyrics that accompany it. While both are mainstream artists, neither has shied away from their Jewish identity, neither in their musical subjects (Spektor’s “Samson” and Sage’s “93 Maidens” being just two examples); nor in their public personaes, Spektor’s cover photo for Begin to Hope features her prominently wearing a Star of David necklace and Sage’s press materials describe her early musical efforts thusly: “When I started I was writing a lot of music that sounded like Elton John – if he’d been a nice Jewish girl from a long line of Russian cantors.” Rachael Sage is being presented in partnership with the 16th Street J’s Kurlander Program for Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Engagement (GLOE) and Regina Spektor will be back in DC later in June for the True Colors tour which raises awareness and funds for various GLBT organizations.

Take a listen for yourself and check back often for more information about the 2008 Washington Jewish Music Festival.

Click below to hear Rachael Sage’s My Word from her upcoming album, Chandelier

Good For the Jews in NoVa

Just in case Israeli film isn’t your cup of tea, may we recommend our dear friend Rob Tannenbaum performing tonight at Jammin’ Java with his duo Good For the Jews. If you’re not familiar with their brand of humor, I think the poster says it all…

Putting The Ass Back in Passover

In Case You Missed It: Shalom Hanoch at Lisner Auditorium

Tali Chitaiad, the 16th Street J’s director of Literature, Music and Dance reports on Tuesday night’s concert: 

Shalom HanochIt was 65 degrees. It was pouring outside. The wind was gusty. And inside—Shalom Hanoch was singing. Rocking. Exciting the audience and enjoying himself. It was one of those elevating performances where you leave thinking how fortunate artists are to be able to create and perform and move their listeners. And how fortunate were we, his audience.

Shalom Hanoch is really one of the forefathers of Israeli rock. His music and lyrics, his performance, and especially his diligent search for new boundaries have been defining Israeli Music since the ’60s.

Tuesday night at Lisner Auditorium, Shalom Hanoch swept everyone away with his lyrical songs and got everyone on their feet with his rock and bluesy songs. He rocked the house together with four fabulous musicians: Moshe Levy on keyboards and guitar; Roni Peterson on guitar; Ziv Harpaz on bass; and Asher Fadi on drums. Hanoch performed songs from different periods of his career including Against the Wind, Maya, Man Lives Within Himself, White Wedding, On the Face of the Earth, Waiting for the Messiah, In this Life Time, and more.

Maintaining his amazing performing skills, youthful voice, and sweeping energy, Shalom excited the audience throughout the entire evening. He is an incredible performer and a humble human being—a unique combination for an artist of his stature.

Here was, once again, a celebration of Israel’s vibrant music scene. A celebration of this maverick Shalom Hanoch who, for decades, developed his unique Israeli voice and style, incorporating different genres (ballads, rock, blues) and making them his own. In doing so he laid the foundation for Israeli rock and changed the face of the Israeli music scene. Don’t miss him while he is in the States (March 8, 2008 – Los Angeles, CA)

To see a video of Shalom Hanoch click here (Windows Media Player required)

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