• SPOTLIGHTS

    Simi Valley Cajun Blues Festival

    MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND MAY 28-29th
    Tickets

    See Read more... for location, schedule and videos

    Read more: SIMI VALLEY CAJUN & BLUES FESTIVAL


    Topanga Days

    Topanga Days pictureTickets

    See Read more... for location, schedule and videos

    Read more: TOPANGA DAYS


    CONCERT REVIEW

    THE SHOW PONIES IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE

    WITH MOONSHINER COLLECTIVE AT BOOTLEG THEATER, MAY 20, 2016

    By Tom Cheyney

    The Show PoniesOn a clear night when a full moon’s south pole glow spread like a mountain man’s beard, The Show Ponies tapped deep into their own particularly luminous brand of rockin’ string-band Americana at the Bootleg. Rambunctiously professional musicianship, tightly wrapped harmonies, rootsy soulfulness and an evangelical-edged zest for living brought band and fans together in a sweaty salvational embrace.

    Read more: THE SHOW PONIES IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE


    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: ALL THESE YEARS

    ARTIST: SOLAS

    LABEL: THL RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 17, 2016

    By Anya Sturm

    Solas - All These YearsFor the past 20 years, Solas has blurred the line of modern and traditional Irish music. In their new album, All These Years, they blend traditional and contemporary tunes, American and Irish music, and even rock with traditional Celtic energy. Moira Smiley, the new singer, joins the long standing members consisting of Seamus Egan (flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistles, guitars, bodhran), Winifred Horan (fiddles, vocals), Eamon McElholm (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and, Mick McAuley (button accordion, vocals).

    Read more: SOLAS - ALL THESE YEARS


    TITLE: BEHAVE THE BRAVEST

    ARTIST: NUALA KENNEDY

    LABEL: UNDER THE ARCH RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: January 29, 2016

    By Jackie Morris

    Nuala Kennedy - Behave the BravestA true Celtic gem! Nuala Kennedy’s fourth solo album, Behave The Bravest – Traditional Music from Ireland, Scotland, and Beyond - is a brilliant display of the acclaimed singer and flutist’s multi-faceted talent. The album, recorded over six months on three continents – while Nuala was on tour with her band in the U.K., Australia and the U.S. – provides a lovely mix of traditional music with an excitingly fresh sound. There are ancient ballads...a waulking song, sung in Gaelic...love songs from Scotland and Ulster...a contemporary Celtic instrumental...and two instrumental medleys, one of reels and the other of jigs.

    Read more: BEHAVE THE BRAVEST - NUALA KENNEDY


    TITLE: CAN’T STAY HERE THIS A-WAY

    ARTIST: BRUCE MOLSKY

    LABEL: OLD-TIME TIKI PARLOUR

    RELEASE DATE: MAY 2016

    By Pat Mac Swyney

    Bruce Molsky - Can't Stay Here This a-Way Last summer, the trailer for this latest release from the Old-Time Tiki Parlour started showing up on social media. It opens with black screen audio of Bruce Molsky blazing through the classic fiddle tune Old Sledge followed by a seemingly audacious quote from Darol Anger, a founding member and fiddler from the David Grisman Quintet; declaring Bruce Molsky to be “The Rembrandt of Appalachian Fiddle.”

    Read more: BRUCE MOLSKY - CAN’T STAY HERE THIS A-WAY


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    May-June 2016

    STORIES WE COULD TELL

    By Dennis Roger Reed

    1984RalphStanley-300If you are around music for long, you have music stories. Here are two. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, unless I forgot or want to name drop. I find if I am vague about the who, the greatly exaggerated what may be overlooked.

    Ralph Stanley and the Jogging Suit

    I know a gentleman who is not only a great musician and singer, but also a great songwriter. Bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley has recorded some of his songs, and he and Ralph are friends. About 25 years ago Ralph and the Clinch Mountain Boys were playing a few engagements in Southern California, and Ralph stayed at the songwriter’s home in the Inland Empire. The songwriter worked out regularly at a local gym, and he invited Ralph to join him. And to entice him to do so, he bought Ralph a then “stylish” purple, velour, jogging suit. If you are a Ralph Stanley fan, you have no doubt seen him photographed wearing workout clothing, but 25 years ago, you had not. If fact, you’d probably expect to see Mike Tyson playing hot five string banjo before you would dream that you would ever see Dr. Ralph in workout gear.

    Ralph’s next gig was in South Orange County at Shade Tree Music on a Monday night. He obtained lodging near the beach.

    At the Shade Tree gig, the songwriter told me about Ralph having stayed with him, the gym and Ralph’s new jogging suit.

    Read more: STORIES WE COULD TELL

    everything but ...

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY

    BOB DYLAN

    (May 24, 1941)

    Click Read more... for
    TOPANGA BANJO-FIDDLE CONTEST WINNERS

    Read more: BOB DYLAN AND TOPANGA BANJO-FIDDLE CONTEST WINNERS


    FULL CALENDAR

    MUSIC       DANCE

    TODAY'S CALENDAR 5/25/16


    MUSIC


    NO EVENTS TODAY



    DANCE


    NO EVENTS TODAY


    RECURRING EVENTS


    MUSIC


    6:00pm VENTURA BLUEGRASS JAM second & fourth Wednesday

    The Golden China

    760 S. Seward Ave, Ventura, CA

    Gene Rubin 805-340-2270 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:30pm - 11:30pm IRISH SESSION every Wednesday

    Griffins Of Kinsale

    1007 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA

    626-799-0926

    Michael Kelly


    9:00pm WE THE FOLK second & fourth Wednesday

    Seventy7 Lounge

    3843 Main St., Culver City, CA

    310-559-7707

    Sean O'Hara 925-216 8993 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    DANCE


    5:30pm - 8:00pm LAGUNA WOOD FOLK DANCERS every Wednesday

    Clubhouse 2

    24112 Moulton Pkwy., Laguna Woods, CA


    7:15pm - 9:30pm SAN DIEGO INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCE CLUB every Wednesday

    Balboa Park Club

    2150 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA

    Jean Cate 858-278-4619 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm - 9:30pm ANAHEIM INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS every Wednesday

    Unitarian Universalist Church in Anaheim

    511 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA

    Ruth or Ted Shapin 714-758-1050


    7:30pm - 9:30pm CONEJO VALLEY FOLK DANCERS every Wednesday

    Hillcrest Center for the Arts (Small Rehearsal Room)

    403 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA

    Jill Lundgren 805-497-1957 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm - 10:00pm SKANDIA DANCE CLUB (SCANDINAVIAN DANCING) every Wednesday

    Lindberg Park

    5041 Rhoda Way, Culver City, CA

    Frances Sotcher 310-827-3618 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm WILD WOOD MORRIS DANCING every Wednesday

    Whaley Park

    5620 E Atherton St., Long Beach, CA

    Julie James 562-493-7151 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    8:00pm - 10:00pm SWEDISH FOLK DANCE CLUB OF LOS ANGELES second & fourth Wednesday

    Skandia Hall

    2031 East Villa St., Pasadena, CA

    Norman and Jane Kindig 714-777-4036 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.