• COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    September-October 2015

    MUSICIAN: ASSESS THYSELF

    By Dennis Roger Reed

    checklistChances are you have a pretty good idea of how good a musician you are. You may even have a good concept of areas where you might improve. Or you could be blissfully ignorant. If you think you are Elvis and the Beatles glued together, chances are you aren’t. Most of us have known great musicians that did not think they were, and sadly, a few musicians that thought they were much, much better than reality reflected.

    I have things I do well as a musician, and some things I don’t. There’s a wide range of duties involved, since if you play even semi-professionally, you are not just playing. You’re booking gigs, making CDs, promoting your music, etc.

    So I’ll start with me. What are my strengths as a musician?

    Read more: MUSICIAN: ASSESS THYSELF

    FILM AND THEATER REVIEW

    ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE

    PLAYING AT THE SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE

    By Nick Smith

    Always Patsy ClineAlthough her musical career was already in progress, Patsy Cline didn’t make a splash on the national stage until her appearances on the Arthur Godfrey show in 1957. Before that, her music was only available in places where the audience was deliberately seeking out country-western music. Before that, she dressed in cowgirl outfits hand-made by her mother. Arthur Godfrey’s show brought her, dressed in elegant, sophisticated dresses, into homes across America, as a show heavily viewed by housewives who didn’t listen to country-western, heard her amazing voice on repeated appearances.

    Read more: ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE


    PASSINGS

    THE DARK WORLD OF KIM FRIEDMAN:

    L.A.’S BLIND BALLAD SINGER RIP

    (APRIL 5, 1954—JUNE 22, 2015)

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Kim Friedman Photo by April Halprin Wayland 20150709 164527Kim Friedman did not have the luxury of John Milton to consider how her light was spent ere half her days were done in this dark world and wide. She was blind before birth.

    Kim’s eyes couldn’t see the fret board her fingers never missed a note on, no matter how high up the neck they traveled; they couldn’t see the strings her right hand never missed a finger-style pattern on, no matter how intricate the back beat she was playing; and they couldn’t see the audience her singing had such an indelible impact on, no matter how deep the tears she inspired, or unaffected the laughter with which she caught them by surprise. And yet it was not Kim who was blind, but we—to how precious those moments were, how much we would miss her when she was gone, and how irreplaceable she was.

    Read more: THE DARK WORLD OF KIM FRIEDMAN


    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: TANGLED COUNTRY

    ARTIST: THE HONEY DEWDROPS

    LABEL: SELF

    RELEASE DATE: MAY 2015

    By Jackie Morris

    Honey Dewdrops - Tangled CountryWith their fourth studio album in six years, Tangled Country, The Honey Dewdrops continue to weave their addictive sound...even as they branch out from their Appalachian folk roots into Americana, blues and singer-songwriter genres.

    Characterized by compelling, earthy harmonies – so tight that they often sound as if one person is singing in two compelling voices – The Honey Dewdrops are comprised of a young, multi-talented husband-wife duo, Kagey Parrish and Laura Wortman. 

    Read more: THE HONEY DEWDROPS - TANGLED COUNTRY


    TITLE: TRADITION

    ARTIST: STUART MASON

    LABEL: NATIVE HOME MUSIC

    RELEASE DATE: MAY 26, 2015

    By Steve Goldfield

    Stuart Mason - TraditionStuart Mason is from West Virginia but lives on California's central coast. He calls his music “oldternative” which is a good word to describe branching from old roots into unusual spaces. You can hear that in the arrangement of Red Rocking Chair with traditional lyrics and banjo but unusual harmonies and Tony Furtado's slide guitar. Ryan Davidson, who coproduced, plays bass on most tracks. That tinkering with tradition continues with Jesus Met the Woman in the Well on which Mason plays mandola and Tony twangs again. On Gospel Plow, which has a more old than alternative sound, Stu returns to banjo and Amber Cross adds strong harmony vocals.

    Read more: STUART MASON - TRADITION


    TITLE: I CAN SWING FOREVER

    ARTISTS: TRACY NEWMAN / CHARLOTTE DEAN

    LABEL: KABEAUTY MUSIC

    RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 12, 2014

    By Stefani Rosenberg

    TRACY NEWMAN - I CAN SWING FOREVERToday, many artists feel the need to record only the music that they have composed; for many, this works. The same holds true in the world of children's music. For every CD that stands out, there are two that are just mediocre.

    Among the best we have Malvina Reynolds, Ella Jenkins, Jose-Luis Orozco, Suni Paz, Marcia Berman, Patty Zeitlen, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and “Uncle Ruthie” Buell. Their music and stories have withstood the test of time.

    Read more: TRACY NEWMAN / CHARLOTTE DEAN - I CAN SWING FOREVER


    UPCOMING CONCERT

    FolkWorks Logo Presents

    THE CROOKED JADES 

    Crooked Jades current lores

    Saturday, September 19th   at   8pm

    doors open at 7:30pm (food will be available)


    in Van Nuys at Noble House Concerts

     For more info, videos and tickets, click on the Read More...

    Read more: CROOKED JADES CONCERT


    BLOG

    AUGUST 22nd, 2015

    RIZWAN-MUAZZAM QAWWALI

    At Grand Performances on Saturday, August 22, 8:00pm, 5th generation torchbearers of the Qawwali tradition, these brothers’ imaginative reinterpretation of classic Sufi texts is a transcendent experience; a rare performance not to be missed. DJ and producer Neil Sparkes joins Rizwan-Muazzam for a special guest set described as “a bewitching blend of dance-floor devotional music.” .

    Read more: Blog Entry AUGUST 22nd, 2015


    FULL CALENDAR click here

    TODAY'S EVENTS 8/31/15


    8:00pm LARRY B. WILDER

    Coffee Gallery Backstage

    2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 92675

    626-798-6236 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm LOAFERS GLORY

    Viva Cantina – Front Room

    900 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506

    818-845-2425


    FULL ONGOING MUSIC click here

    TODAY'S ONGOING MUSIC 8/31/15

    Ongoing Music


    7:30pm BROMBIES BLUEGRASS every Monday

    Viva Cantina

    900 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506

    818-515-4444


    7:30pm KULAK'S WOODSHED OPEN MIC (SIGNUP AT 7:00PM) every Monday

    Kulak's Woodshed

    5230-1/2 Laurel Canyon Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91607-4934

    818-766-9913


    8:00pm - 9:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH CéILí DANCE every Monday

    Celtic Arts Center @ The Mayflower Club

    4843 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City, CA

    818-760-8322


    9:00pm - 11:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH MUSIC SESSION every Monday

    Celtic Arts Center @ The Mayflower Club

    4843 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City, CA

    818-760-8322


Anyone for Yiddish Tango?

By Audrey Coleman

Gustavo BulgachPut the two words “Yiddish” and “tango” together, and some might respond, “You’re joking?” But history bears out a strong connection between the two. These will be evident in the upcoming performance of Yiddish Tango Club at the Skirball Cultural Center on Thursday evening, August 21. Having investigated Vietnamese tango in my June column, this gives me yet another opportunity to dig for treasures in music history.

But first here’s the scoop on the show. Virtuoso klezmer clarinetist Gustavo Bulgach, who launched the Yiddish Tango Club project in 2012, will lead his ensemble in accompanying tangos with lyrics written in Yiddish as well as Argentine tango instrumentals from the early days of the genre and the innovative tangos of Astor Piazzolla. They also will be performing pieces from the klezmer repertoire, freilachs (happy, fast-paced numbers) and nigunim (improvised vocal numbers with roots in religious and particularly Hasidic texts and music). Along with the Bulgach on clarinet and saxophone, the multi-ethnic ensemble includes Andrew Markham on piano, Ken Rosser on guitar, Hiroo Nakano on drums, Hector Pineda on bass and Mariano Dugatkin on accordion and that tango signature instrument, the bandoneón.

Divina GloriaInterpreting the lyrics will be guest artist Divina Gloria, who, as her stage name suggests, is larger than life; I recall her vibrant vocals in a Yiddish tango-themed concert at Disney Hall’s Redcat Theater several years ago. Born Martha Gloria Goldsztern, the Argentine vocalist is equally mesmerizing interpreting traditional Yiddish songs, tangos in Spanish and Yiddish, and jazz and pop material. Her background includes numerous appearances as a dramatic actress on stage, screen, and television in Argentina since the mid-seventies. Together, Divina Gloria and Gustavo Bulgach are sure to ignite the Skirball stage. The outdoor setting will allow room for spontaneous dancing by audience members.

Now to history. The roots of Yiddish tango extend from Argentina to Western and Eastern European centers, and New York. Researcher Lloica Czackis traces its path in articles published in the Jewish Quarterly (2004) and European Judaism (2009). In her opening to the former article, she comments that tango music and Jewish folk music share the prominence of the violin as well as an indefinable sense of yearning. The Argentine tango, born in the brothels of Buenos Aires in the first decade of the 20th century, emerged at a time when the Jewish population of Argentina was beginning to swell. The East European Jews fleeing the brutal Russian pogroms of the 1880s initially resettled in North America but before the end of the century Argentina became an equally attractive destination. Thus, whereas in the 1880s there were about 1500 Jews in the entire country, by the 1920s a thriving Jewish population of mainly Ashkenazi origin had reached 200,000 in Buenos Aires alone. The Jewish community of Buenos Aires boasted a rich cultural life mainly conducted in Yiddish. But this was no ghetto. Jewish immigrants also learned Spanish and interacted in matters of business and culture with the outer society. After the tango gained status from its enthusiastic reception in Paris, Jewish musicians began playing in tango orchestras. When, thanks to the interpretive talents of Carlos Gardel, the tango became a form of passionate vocal expression, Jewish lyricists penned tangos with Spanish lyrics.

The next step was the composition and performance of tangos in Yiddish. In Eastern Europe, where tangos were already performed in Polish and Russian due to the success of the genre in Paris, Yiddish theater troupes composed their own tangos in addition to adopting the Argentine Yiddish tangos. By the 1930s, Yiddish Theater companies from both Buenos Aires and Eastern Europe were touring to New York, performing tangos and other genres to great acclaim. Some of the most popular East European tangos Czackis cites are from the Ararat Yiddish revue company of Lodz: Ikh ganve in der nakht (“I steal at night”) and Tsi darf es azoy zain? (“Must I be this way?”). Touring companies from New York, Eastern Europe, and Buenos Aires cross-pollinated creatively until the outbreak of the Second World War.

The tango has always had its dimension of emotional darkness, but the era of the Holocaust was its darkest chapter. Jewish musicians and lyricists living in Nazi-imposed ghettos in Vilna, Kovno, Lodz, Bialystok and other urban centers composed, among other songs of resistance, tangos bitterly decrying the conditions under which they struggled to survive. This also occurred in concentration camps. Most of these compositions were lost, but Shmerke Kaczerginsky collected fraction of them was and in 1948 published Lieder fun di getos und lagern (Songs from the Ghettos and Concentration Camps). More macabre still, it is documented that Nazi officers regularly ordered concentration camp orchestras, the lagernkapellen, to play tangos to accompany the marching of prisoners to their deaths. This nightmarish scenario was immortalized in the poem Todestango (Tango of Death) published by Paul Antschel in 1947.

It is amusing to hear the Yiddish tangos that emerged from Jewish communities that flourished in Buenos Aires, Europe and New York through the 1930s but also it is necessary–and I don’t know if Thursday’s performance will represent it—to acknowledge tangos that grew in the desert of despair brought on by the Holocaust. In either case, Yiddish tangos are no joke.

The Yiddish Tango Club performance officially starts at 8:00pm on Thursday, August 21 at the Skirball Cultural Center located at 2701 Sepulveda Blvd. (near Mulholland Drive exit), Los Angeles 90049. The event is free. Doors open at 7:00pm. Apparently Gustavo Bulgach will be informally sharing vintage Yiddish tango recordings between 7:00pm and 8:00pm.

Audrey Coleman-Macheret is a writer, educator, and ethnomusicologist who explores traditional and world music performed in Southern California and beyond.