September-October 2007

BOHEMIANS WHO RHAPSODIZE-

A NIGHT AT THE VAGABOND OPERA

By Joel Okida

vagabond-opera-01_180w.jpg If you like your Opera-Balkan-Arabic-Klezmer music with a touch of nostalgia, a jab of the bawdy, an uppercut of mystery, and a roundhouse punch of impassioned showmanship, and the thought of jumping in a hand-cranked time machine with a sextet of footloose ramblers appeals to you, then leap on board or more accurately, crowd into this medicine show.  Like running away with the carnival, Vagabond Opera let's you peek under the tent flap, sip from their musical elixir, and then allows you to bump to their grind at the cabaret, leaving you a bit wide-eyed and short of breath.  This is no sideshow which hints at the bigger things happening under the big top, but a finely tuned showboat that invites you to paddle away from that hum-drum life at the office, follow the siren call and dive into their world, if only for one night.  They can be unabashedly absurd, droll and melodramatic, but always keep the art, heart and soul of the music cohesive and tight.

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  September-October 2007

Blowin’ in the Wind:
A Breath of Fresh Air at the Jammin’ Tree Didgeridoo Festival

BY JOEL OKIDA

didgeridoofestival200709_180.jpgThe small, but mighty Jammin' Tree Didgeridoo Festival ( www.jtdidgefest.com ) located in a wisp of a town called North Fork, and under the shadow of Yosemite, is the kind of unique entertainment that runs below the radar of the giant music festivals in California.  An acquired taste to be sure, the festival promotes the culture, music and art of the Aboriginal people.  The intimate setting requires a mellow demeanor, but a curiosity for the unusual in terms of sound and art.  The mood is low key, but friendly and the family atmosphere adds to the openness of the environment.  The grounds of the festival are actually a local baseball field, but this grassy venue is surrounded by the wildness of its Sierra surroundings.  A river and swimming hole a few steps from the vendor booths are much more inviting as the warm temperatures push the visitor to submerge in some relief.  If you are lucky enough to reserve a camping spot adjacent to the water, you have the best of both worlds at opposite ends of your tent.

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September-October 2007

YIDDISH TANGO, ARGENTINEAN KLEZMER Y MAS...

BY AUDREY COLEMAN

yiddish_gustavoclarinet1_175.jpgA Yiddish tango! Sounds crazy, no? But in our global village of Los Angeles, that's what's in store for the audience at Redcat on the evening of October 20th.

Of course, if you're already steeped in Yiddish culture and history, then you know that the waves of immigration bringing East European Jews to North America at the turn of the 20th century and then again after the Second World War, also brought Yiddish speakers to Latin American countries. Thus, in the 1930s, while Irving Berlin and George Gershwin were making music for Tin Pan Alley, Anibal Troilo and Carlos Gardel were busy writing Yiddish lyrics for tangos performed in the clubs of Buenos Aires. 

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