• SPOTLIGHTS




    FILM AND THEATER REVIEW

    David Broza: East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem

    Film Screening, Q&A and Live Performance
    at the Museum of Tolerance - April 12, 2016

    Blessed are the peacemakers.

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    David Brazer - E. Jeruselum  W. JeruselumIt was hard to determine who David Broza’s most implacable enemy was at the screening of his 2014 film East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem last night at the Museum of Tolerance—Palestinians, or Israelis? I went back and forth, so here is a blow-by-blow account of one of the more gripping films and live performances I have encountered in my effort to cover the waterfront for FolkWorks over the past 15 years.

    Read more: DAVID BROZA: EAST JERUSALEM/WEST JERUSALEM


    CONCERT REVIEW

    Eric Andersen at McCabe’s

    A Bard by Any Other Name - April 23, 1616—April 23, 2016

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    Eric Anderson“All the world’s a stage,” said William Shakespeare, but there’s only one McCabe’s. April 23, 1616, four hundred years ago tonight, Shakespeare, the greatest poet in the English language, passed away. But Eric Andersen is still here, so the English language is in good hands. He performed at McCabe’s this evening, a quarto of the best songs written over the past fifty years—including Thirsty Boots, Violets of Dawn, Amsterdam and Close the Door Lightly When You Go. It was a pleasure and an inspiration to observe the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in the company of an artist who avoids the name “singer-songwriter” in preference to a higher calling: song poet, which describes Eric Andersen to a “T.” For tonight, though, let’s just call him the bard.

    Read more: ERIC ANDERSEN AT MCCABE’S


    PASSINGS

    Pitt Kinsolving

    (September 22, 1932 - April 3, 2016)

    Pitt KinsolvingPitt Kinsolving died at 6:30am, Sunday, April 3, 2016, after a multiyear battle with cancer.

    Reprinted from PITT KINSOLVING - A FOLK HERO AND A BLUEGRASS CELEBRATION

    By Rex Mayreis

    Pitt Kinsolving, a man with a most distinguished name, is known for organizing folk music events, as well as getting musicians together to make music. While engineering sound for recordings, performances, and other live programs has been his profession, he has been an important force in bringing folk music to Southern California through his volunteer efforts in planning and promoting concerts and festivals, and in his active participation in hoots.

    Read more: Pitt Kinsolving


    CD REVIEWS

    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-WayLast 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


    Aritmia – A Marriage Made in Music

    By Audrey Coleman

    ARITMIA by Merima Kljuco  Miroslav TadicOn first glance, the accordion and the acoustic guitar have little in common. The first is a large, hulking affair strapped on to the musician who negotiates its keyboard or buttons to achieve various pitches and manipulates bellows to control tone, timbre, and dynamics. The guitar, on the other hand, seems to melt into the musician’s body as tones are teased out by plucking and strumming and fingers achieve dynamics and texture with direct pressure.

    Read more: ARITMIA – A MARRIAGE MADE IN MUSIC


    TITLE: L’Echo À Travers Le Clos (Echo Across the Field)

    ARTIST: Joe Fontenot

    LABEL: Old-Time Tiki Parlour

    RELEASE DATE: March 2016

    By Pat Mac Swyney

    LECHO À TRAVERS LE CLOS - JOE FONTENOTL’Echo À Travers Le Clos is southwest Louisiana native-Los Angeles transplant Joe Fontenot’s first record and a very important and an extraordinary celebration of traditional Creole music & culture.

    Some 30 years ago, I was playing locally in Irish Trad. and CowPunk bands with a button accordionist friend who turned us all on to the regional accordion music of south Texas and southwest Louisiana.

    Read more: L’ECHO À TRAVERS LE CLOS - JOE FONTENOT


    TITLE: LEMA LEMA

    ARTIST: EVA SALINA

    LABEL: VOGITON RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 11, 2016

    Eva Salina Sings Šaban Bajramović

    By Pat Mac Swyney

    EVA SALINA - LEMA LEMAI first heard Eva Salina sing over 15 years ago at Balkan Music & Dance Camp in the coastal redwood forest of west Mendocino County. I can’t imagine she was old enough to drive at the time, yet there she was, confidently and deftly belting out assorted Balkan folk songs alongside considerably more tenured singers from both the Balkans and America.

    Read more: EVA SALINA - LEMA LEMA


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    May-June 2016

    Canote Brothers

    Brother Duets from Seattle

    By Roland Sturm

    Canote Brothers 2Early country music was a simple style with sparse instrumentation. The first commercial country music recordings in 1922 and 1923 by Eck Robertson and Fiddlin’ John Carson were either solo or duo recordings by fiddlers. Duo acts performing old-time country music were common, often featuring the uniquely blended harmony singing of two brothers were a common combination. One of these early acts, the Monroe Brothers, included the future "father of Bluegrass Music," Bill Monroe. The Delmore Brothers, the McGee Brothers, and the Blue Sky Boys (Bill and Earl Bolick) were other popular brother duets performing and recording country music in the 1930s.

    Read more: CANOTE BROTHERS

    everything but ...

    THEODORE BIKEL

    (May 2, 1924 – July 21, 2015)

    THEODORE MEIR BIKEL (May 2, 1924 – July 21, 2015) was an Austrian-American Jewish actor, folk singer, musician, composer, and activist. He made his stage debut in Tevye the Milkman in Tel Aviv, Israel, when he was in his teens. He later studied acting at Britain's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his London stage debut in 1948 and in New York in 1955. He was also a widely recognized and recorded folk singer and guitarist.

    Read more: THEODORE BIKEL


    FULL CALENDAR

    MUSIC       DANCE

    RECURRING EVENTS


    MUSIC


    7:30pm - 11:00pm SIMI VALLEY HOOT (SONGMAKERS ) first Wednesday

    Simi Valley (Contact via Songmakers website)

    www.songmakers.org, Simi Valley, CA

    Don Newcomer 805-527-8518 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


    DANCE


    10:15am - 11:45am PAN PACIFIC FOLK DANCERS every Thursday

    Pan Pacific Senior Activity Center

    141 S. Gardner Ave., Los Angeles, CA

    Tikva Mason 310-652-8706


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

    Santa Monica College Clocktower

    1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA


    3:00pm - 4:45pm RESEDA INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS every Thursday

    Reseda Senior Center

    18255 Victory Blvd., Reseda, CA

    JoAnne McColloch 818-340-6432


    7:30pm - 10:30pm NARODNI FOLK DANCERS every Thursday

    Woman's Club of Bellflower

    9402 Oak St., Bellflower, CA

    Judith 562-404-4383


    7:30pm - 10:45pm WESTWOOD CO-OP FOLK DANCERS every Thursday

    Felicia Mahood Senior Club

    11338 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

    310-839-1753 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.