• CONCERT REVIEW

    CAT STEVENS-YUSUF IN CONCERT

    NO SEX, NO DRUGS, NO ROCK AND ROLL—GOT FOLK?

    AT THE NOKIA THEATRE—LA LIVE - DECEMBER 14, 2014

    By Ross Altman

    Cat Stevens with D-28England’s greatest mathematician, pacifist and philanderer once said of Austria’s greatest logician and language philosopher: “Ludwig Wittgenstein came to Cambridge and taught the English to speak their own language.” Bertrand Russell, meet Cat Stevens. With his new album Tell ‘Em I’m Gone—from the Lead Belly chain gang song Take This Hammer—English folk singer Cat Stevens has come to the U.S. and taught Americans to sing our own folk songs—black, blues, and even the singing cowboy Gene Autry classic (written by former Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis) You Are My Sunshine, a song relegated to nursing home sing along song sheets until Cat reshaped it into a modern blues and made it shine all over again—as he did with Lead Belly.

    Read more: CAT STEVENS-YUSUF IN CONCERT


    COLUMN OF THE WEEK

    November-December 2014

    CONFLICT AND LEGACIES

    BY LINDA DEWAR

    Young and CrosbyOK, I’m not sure this is actually news… it seems that Neil Young and David Crosby have had a serious disagreement, and as a result Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young will never perform together again. That’s according to Young. Crosby, though, says the statement is a bit “like saying there are mountains in Tibet,” and that the whole thing will blow over. There’s no mention of the nature of the blowup, but Crosby did take the opportunity to mention that he knew “at least 20” guitar players who are better than Young.

    Read more Conflict and Legacies

    CD REVIEWS

    TITLE: BEYOND THE BLUE

    ARTIST: THE DUHKS

    LABEL: COMPASS RECORDS

    RELEASE DATE: 2014

    By Jackie Morris

    The DuhksThe Duhks are back...flying higher than ever with their 5th CD, Beyond the Blue. After taking a hiatus of two years, this celebrated Canadian neo-trad folk band demonstrates, yet again, the bold, beautiful, eclectic, exciting and innovative music that has consistently earned them critical acclaim. All of their previous CDs have been nominated for Juno Awards - winning Best Roots & Traditional Album by a Group in 2005, and a Grammy nomination in 2007.

    Beyond the Blue is a stunning album, almost addictive in its adventurous rhythms, harmonies and arrangements....mixing a strong Celtic base with a lot of everything else: Appalachian... old-timey....a little blues....a little soul...a French song from Mali...and a lot of driving folk-rock and Afro Cuban rhythms.

    Read more: DUHKS - BEYOND THE BLUE


    TITLE: ALEXIS ZOUMBAS: A LAMENT FOR EPIRUS 1926-1928

    ARTIST: ALEXIS ZOUMBAS

    LABEL: LONG GONE SOUND/ANGRY MOM ARCHIVES

    RELEASE DATE: APRIL 20, 2014

    By Jonathan Shifflett

    Alexis Zoumbas78-rpm collector Christopher King has a way of making old music seem new. Although he grew up listening to pre-war blues and hillbilly recordings, he focuses now on reissuing 78-rpm recordings from performers outside the American vernacular. What he finds is that the rawness, the spirit and the energy of the early American performers like Skip James or Dennis McGee is evident in ethnic recordings as well. In a sense, he curates the blues and country music of other cultures.

    His most recent production, Alexis Zoumbas: A Lament for Epirus 1926 -1928 profiles Zoumbas’ masterful violin adaptations of Greek sheepherding music, now available on a beautiful gatefold LP with artwork by R. Crumb. An immigrant to the States from the Albanian influenced region of Epirus, Zoumbas recorded for Columbia in Prohibition-era New York City. Apart from his recorded works, very little biographical information exists about the exiled performer.

    Read more: ALEXIS ZOUMBAS: A LAMENT FOR EPIRUS 1926-1928


    BLOG

    December 21, 2014

    Joe Spence singing the best Christmas song ever
    (http://www.youtube.com/v/rEgKEbT5a7Q )


    2014 GRAMMY OF INTEREST TO FOLKWORKS READERS


    Read more: Blog Entry DECEMBER 21, 2014


    FULL CALENDAR click here

    TODAY'S EVENTS 12/22/14


    8:00pm JIM AND ANNE CURRY

    Tribute to the Music of John Denver

    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.


    fwpick

    8:00pm THE KLEZMATICS

    Happy Joyous Hanukah

    Walt Disney Concert Hall

    111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012

    323-850-2000


    FEATURED VIDEO

     Klezmatics - spin, dreydl, spin
    (http://www.youtube.com/v/ZUMqeE-SnD0 )

    FULL ONGOING MUSIC click here

    TODAY'S ONGOING MUSIC 12/22/14


    7:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH CéILí DANCE

    The Mayflower Club

    11110 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91606

    818-760-8322 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    7:30pm BROMBIES BLUEGRASS

    Viva Cantina

    900 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91506

    818-515-4444


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

    Kulak's Woodshed

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

    818-766-9913


    8:00pm CELTIC ARTS CENTER IRISH MUSIC SESSION

    The Mayflower Club

    11110 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91606

    818-760-8322 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    BOOK REVIEW

    THE RHYMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

    TITLE: THE LYRICS: SINCE 1962

    AUTHOR: BOB DYLAN

    EDITOR: CHRISTOPHER RICKS, LISA NEMROW, JULIE NEMROW

    PUBLISHER: SIMON AND SCHUSTER

    RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 28, 2014 (NYC)

    By Ross Altman, PhD

    They LyricsThe most complete collection of Bob Dylan’s lyrics we are likely to see in our lifetime has just been published, and the most notable thing about it is the juxtaposition of Dylan’s lyrical changes in many songs from their original recorded versions to the printed versions to the various live recorded versions, yielding in some cases three rather different texts. Each section is framed by a full-size replica of the original album cover, in full color front and back. The dimensions of the LP determined the size of the book.

    As my rabbi pointed out after seeing Dylan’s third concert at the Dolby Theatre (I reviewed the first in these pages) Bob seemed to have altered the lyrics my rabbi knew in both Tangled Up in Blue and Simple Twist of Fate. What gives? He wondered; we are accustomed to hearing different tempos, arrangements, instrumentation, even melodies for many of Dylan’s classic songs in live performance; now must we also get used to different lyrics? At what point do we find it difficult to think we heard the same song?

    So I decided to order the $200, 961 page, 13 pound book and find out for myself. It just arrived from Barnes & Noble in NYC and what can I say? Rabbi, Things Have Changed.

    Read more: THE RHYMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’


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.