Music

A vision of a rabbi inspired me to sing

By Simon Round, January 21, 2010

Many people feel they have a vocation for their jobs but few in showbusiness have actually experienced a calling. But this happened to Daniel Cainer, who had what he describes as “a vision” which compelled him to perform.

Cainer, who for the past two years has been touring with his successful show Jewish Chronicles, says the original idea of writing and singing Jewish-inspired songs came to him in a rather unexpected way.

More..

Vampire Weekend: Don't call us white

By Paul Lester, January 14, 2010

Vampire Weekend, the four-piece from New York, have been described as “the whitest band on the planet”.

This not entirely flattering label was pinned on them in 2008 after the release of their million-selling self-titled debut album of world music, which sounded like a bunch of young punks playing Paul Simon’s Graceland. Accusations of cultural imperialism were levelled at them for their appropriation of African music idioms.

More..

The football hooligan who sings in Yiddish

By Jessica Duchen, January 7, 2010

When Mark Glanville began to put together A Yiddish Winterreise, he had little thought that such a personal project would carry him quite so far. His programme of Yiddish songs, designed to mirror the emotional journey of Schubert’s Winterreise, has now been released on CD by Naxos, and this month Glanville and his right-hand man and accompanist, the Jewish music expert Alexander Knapp, are performing it at the Southbank Centre. But above all, Glanville’s Winterreise has taken him to the heart of his own identity.

More..

Chicago rock band OK Go

By Robert Collins, December 29, 2009

Even if the name does not ring any bells, chances are you will be familiar with the work of OK Go. The Chicago rockers’ video for their song Here It Goes Again, featuring the band performing an intricately choreographed dance routine on treadmills, has been viewed almost 50 million times on YouTube, earned the band a Grammy for best music video and was even parodied on The Simpsons.

The lead singer in that video, thanks to his ability to dance and lip-sync simultaneously, was bass player and native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Tim Nordwind.

More..

A musical Indian takeaway

By Simon Round, December 29, 2009

Six years ago, record producer Julian Futter was given a pile of old 78s. He knew nothing about them apart from the fact that they included music derived from the Jews of Iraq.

These songs were later released in a celebrated CD called Shbahoth. However, included in the pile were a few records from Mumbai — fascinating to listen to, says Futter, but not enough in themselves to make an album.

More..

Past songs that tell us how to live now

December 22, 2009

A woman stands with a fat sack of bagels before her, selling her wares on an East End Street in the monochrome days of the early 20th century. Little did she know that a century later her image would be called upon for the cover of a new CD of klezmer instrumentals and rediscovered Yiddish song, Whitechapel Mayn Vaytshepl (Whitechapel My Whitechapel).

More..

The rock survivor who leads Morrissey's favourite band

By Robert Collins, December 3, 2009

The New York Dolls’ arrival in Britain this week signals another joyous chapter in arguably the most uplifting musical comeback story of the 21st century. For guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, turning a legacy as part of one of rock’s most influential, yet commercially unsuccessful, bands into a thriving career in his fifties is reason for celebration. He is doing what he loves.

More..

(Israeli) anarchy in the UK

By Robert Collins, November 12, 2009

‘I had a steel trash can thrown at my head in Athens, Georgia,” says Yonatan Gat, guitarist for the Tel Aviv band Monotonix. “Ami broke both shoulders in New York. Haggai got a disco ball in the face. It’s part of the job.”

When Monotonix’s perpetual world tour reaches the UK this November it is unlikely its three members, Gat, singer Ami Shalev and drummer Haggai Fershtman will emerge without further injury. Monotonix are more than Israel’s wildest musical export. They are arguably the most wilfully chaotic live band on the face of the earth.

More..

Rivka Golani: queen of the viola

By Alex Kasriel, November 12, 2009

Rivka Golani has suddenly gone quiet. The viola virtuoso was describing how her parents fled Eastern Europe to escape antisemitism and find a better life in pre-1948 Palestine.

Golani is now regarded as one of the finest musicians in the world, an accomplished soloist who has had 65 concertos written for her. But asked to comment on how proud her parents must have been of achievements, she falls silent. Over the telephone it is hard to tell whether she is simply lost for words or choked with emotion.

More..

'They pinch our cheeks at gigs'

By Stephanie Brickman, November 5, 2009

‘Excuse me dear, but you weren’t singing in English were you?” says a concerned elderly man, who has come to speak to me at the end of a gig. “No,” I reply, “that was Yiddish.”

“Oh, that’s all right then,” he says, relieved, “I thought my hearing aid was playing up.”

More..