• SPOTLIGHT


    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: HEART OF THE MOUNTAIN, 200 YEARS OF AN APPALACHIAN FAMILY

    ARTIST: JENI & BILLY

    LABEL: JEWEL RIDGE RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: MAY 1, 2016

    By Susie Glaze

    Jeni  Billy - HOTMA new love letter has been written, this one to an entire family and its American ancestors, replete with stories and new songs: Jeni & Billy’s new CD Heart of the Mountain, 200 Years of An Appalachian Family.

    I’ve written before in these pages about the work of the Nashville-based Appalachian duo Jeni & Billy. This new entry in their catalogue released this spring is a concept piece, an historical retrospective of family history with songs written to celebrate a few generations of lives and events. The twenty-seven tracks contain both spoken word and music, illuminating the 200 year history of the Smith family in Virginia.

    Read more: HEART OF THE MOUNTAIN, 200 YEARS OF AN APPALACHIAN FAMILY


    TITLE: THE SPOTTED PONY

    ARTIST: SPENCER & RAINS

    LABEL: OLD-TIME TIKI PARLOUR

    RELEASE DATE: JULY 2016

    By Pat Mac Swyney

    Spencer  Rains - Spotted PonyIf you look up the definition of the Great Plains, it describes the large expanse of predominately flat prairie & steppe grasslands, stretching from southern Canada, across the American Midwest to the Texas-Mexican border; framed by the Mississippi River on the east and by the Rocky Mountains on the west. This broad geography has been home to Native American tribes, European explorers, freed African-American slaves, pioneers and homesteaders and it is from this rich musical landscape that husband-wife duo Tricia Spencer & Howard Rains take their repertoire and inspiration on The Spotted Pony.

    Read more: SPENCER & RAINS - THE SPOTTED PONY


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    July-August 2016

    Where’s the Folk?

    By Linda Dewar

    Tom Paxton album cover: "Ain't That The News!"

    Where’s the Folk? I turned 65 last week. Not a big deal, really, but it does seem to have triggered a bit of semi-nostalgic reflection. The media would have us believe that the definitive event for my age group was the 1967 “Summer of Love” when we all took virtual trips to San Francisco, put flowers in our hair, and danced to the sounds of Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.

    Read more: WHERE’S THE FOLK?

    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 ...

    DAVE "SNAKER" RAY

    (August 17, 1943 – November 28, 2002)

    DAVE "SNAKER" RAY (August 17, 1943 – November 28, 2002) was an American blues singer and guitarist from St. Paul, Minnesota, who was most notably associated with Spider John Koerner and Tony "Little Sun" Glover in the early Sixties folk revival. Together, the three released albums under the name Koerner, Ray & Glover.

    Read more: DAVE "SNAKER" RAY


    FULL CALENDAR

    MUSIC       DANCE

    TODAY'S CALENDAR 8/24/16


    MUSIC


    7:00pm ERNEST TROOST / RAY BONNEVILLE / MELANIE DEVANEY

    Arroyo Seco Golf Clubhouse

    1055 Lohman Ln, South Pasadena, CA 91030

    323-255-1506

    Presented by Wine and Song Series


    8:00pm THE L.A. RIVER BOYS

    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.



    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.