• CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: THE BEAUTIFUL NOT YET

    ARTIST: CARRIE NEWCOMER

    LABEL: AVAILABLE LIGHT RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

    By Jackie Morris

    Carrie.Newcomer.TBNY .AlbumPageProfound and poetic, Carrie Newcomer’s 16th album, The Beautiful Not Yet, soothes the soul as it stimulates the senses. Capturing the mystery and miracle in the everyday, the songs are at once spiritual and down to earth, filled with wisdom and heart.

    If you simply read the lyrics on her website, you’ll find the words read like poetry. But in truth, even if I didn’t understand a word of English, I would still think this is one beautiful album. The primary reason is Newcomer’s voice – that celebrated, rich contralto that is so luscious, warm and honest, so natural yet perfectly nuanced, that it makes you feel good just to listen to it. Additionally, The Beautiful Not Yet features an array of gorgeous harmonies and an exciting blend of traditional roots instrumentation (banjo, acoustic guitar and mandolin) and chamber music (cello, violin, and piano).

    Read more: CARRIE NEWCOMER - THE BEAUTIFUL NOT YET


    TITLE: WHAT THE HEART WANTS

    ARTIST: BRITTA LEE SHAIN

    LABEL: INDIGO DESERT QUEEN

    RELEASE DATE: 2016

    By Jackie Morris

    Britta Lee Shain - What the Heart WantsBritta Lee Shain’s second CD, What the Heart Wants, should come with a warning label: “This album may be addictive.” In truth, I cannot stop listening to it. Shain’s unique brand of cool, bluesy folk-rock is more than “that good.” It is compelling.

    The album was released in tandem with the publication of Shain’s new book, Seeing The Real You At Last: Life and Love on the Road with Bob Dylan, a personal memoir chronicling her time with the folk icon in the 1980s. (One of the songs is a co-write with him, another is a cover of one of his latter-day (1997) hits, and still another … or others … are about him.) But regardless of this intriguing liaison, I have to emphasize that these songs stand on their own. And then some.

    Read more: BRITTA LEE SHAIN - WHAT THE HEART WANTS


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    September-October 2016

    UKE EVENTS TO TOOT ABOUT

    By Audrey Coleman

    JACCC-smAs August gives way to September, this ukulele lady looks back fondly at special uke experiences and forward with gusto to upcoming events featuring Mighty Uke. A highlight in June was the Ukulele Expo held at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in the heart of downtown L.A. It was largely organized by Jason Arimoto, musician, ukulele instructor and uke dealer at JACCC’s U-Space, along with musician-arranger-composer-producer and six-time Grammy winner Daniel Ho. Besides the now-traditional mass uke strumming session outside on the steaming plaza, the event offered some fascinating workshops.

    Read more: UKE EVENTS TO TOOT ABOUT

    BOOK REVIEW

    TITLE: 26 SONGS in 30 DAYS

    WOODY GUTHRIE'S Columbia River Songs

    and the Planned Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest

    AUTHORS: GREG VANDY WITH DANIEL PERSON

    PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 12, 2016

    By Lenny Potash

    26 Songs in 30 DaysThere are no shortage of writings about and by Woody Guthrie but 26 Songs in 30 Days is a great contribution because it is a work focused on the relationship between the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and Woody and what this massive public works project meant to him as the country was coming out of the Great Depression and preparing for World War II.

    Read more: 26 SONGS in 30 DAYS - WOODY GUTHRIE'S COLUMBIA RIVER SONGS


    FILM AND THEATER REVIEW

    THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS

    YO YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE

    By Yatrika Shah-Rais

    The Music of Strangers“Every tradition is the result of successful invention… Human beings grow by being curious and receptive to what’s around them. A lot of people are scared of change, and sometimes there’s reason to be fearful. But if you can welcome change, you become fertile ground for development.”

    This is just one of the many insightful quotes from the movie The Music of Strangers: Yo Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble.

    Read more: THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS


    everything but ...

    RIP: Fred Hellerman

    (May 13, 1927 – September 1, 2016)

    Fred HellermanFred Hellerman (May 13, 1927 – September 1, 2016) was an American folk singer, guitarist, producer, and songwriter, primarily known as one of the original members of The Weavers, together with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Ronnie Gilbert. He was also known for producing the record album Alice's Restaurant (1967) for Arlo Guthrie. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and educated at Brooklyn College.

    Read more: RIP: FRED HELLERMAN


    FULL CALENDAR

    MUSIC       DANCE

    TODAY'S CALENDAR 9/27/16


    MUSIC


    fwpick

    7:00pm TRACY NEWMAN / GARY STOCKDALE / ROBERT MORGAN FISHER / KAREN RONTOWSKI

    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.


    7:30pm DOLLY PARTON

    Valley View Casino

    16300 Nyemii Pass Rd., Valley Center, CA. 92082


    fwpick

    7:30pm HOT CLUB OF NASHVILLE

    Printing Museum

    315 Torrance Blvd., Carson, CA 90745

    310-515-7166


    8:00pm MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER

    FOX Performing Arts Center

    3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

    951-779-9800



    DANCE


    NO EVENTS TODAY


    RECURRING EVENTS


    MUSIC


    5:30pm - 8:30pm DOWNEY FOLK MUSIC JAM

    fourth Tuesday

    Barbara J. Riley Community & Senior Center

    7810 Quill Drive, Downey, CA 90242

    562-904-7223

    Bea & Jim Romano 562-861-7049 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    6:30pm - 9:00pm SDBS OPEN MIC, PICKUP BANDS, FEATURED BAND

    fourth Tuesday

    Boll Weevil Restaurant (Clairemont Mesa)

    9330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA

    858- 571-6225

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


    7:00pm - 9:30pm JC HYKE'S SONGWRITERS SERENADE

    every Tuesday

    Matt Denny's Ale House Restaurant & Bar

    145 E. Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91006


    7:00pm BLUEGRASS SOUP JAM

    every Tuesday

    Convert-A-Tape

    2420 Gundry Ave., Signal Hill , CA 90755

    Don Rowan 562-883-0573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm - 11:00pm TIMMY NOLAN TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC SESSION

    every Tuesday

    Timmy Nolan's Tavern and Grill

    10111 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake, CA 91602

    818-985-3359

    Dan Conroy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    DANCE


    11:15am - 12:35pm SANTA MONICA CITY COLLEGE ISRAELI DANCING

    every Thursday

    Santa Monica College Clocktower

    1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA


    6:00pm - 8:45pm CERRITOS FOLK DANCERS

    every Tuesday

    Cerritos Senior Center

    12340 South St., Cerritos, CA

    Wen Chiang 626-303-2761 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    6:45pm - 9:30pm ZYDECO DANCING AT TIO LEO'S

    every Tuesday

    Tio Leo's Mexican Resturant

    5302 Napa St., San Diego, CA

    Ronda 760-774-8023 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm - 9:30pm SANTA BARBARA ENGLISH COUNTRY DANCE

    every Tuesday

    First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara

    21 E. Constance Ave., Santa Barbara, CA

    Gary Shapiro 805-699-5101 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm - 11:00pm CALTECH FOLK DANCERS

    every Tuesday

    Caltech Dabney Lounge

    1200 E California Blvd, Pasadena, CA

    Nancy Milligan 626-797-5157 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm - 10:30pm TUESDAY GYPSIES - INTERNATIONAL

    every Tuesday

    Culver City Masonic Lodge

    9635 Venice Blvd., Culver City, CA

    Marian and Jim Fogle This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm - 9:30pm CABRILLO INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS

    every Tuesday

    Balboa Park Club

    2150 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA

    Georgina Sham 858-459-1336 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm WESTSIDE JCC ISRAELI FOLK DANCING

    every Tuesday

    Westside JCC

    5870 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

    James Zimmer 310-284-3638 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm MORETON BAY FIG MORRIS

    every Tuesday

    War Memorial Hall, Balboa Park

    3325 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA


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.