Sacred sells for Israeli musicians

By Nathan Jeffay, July 2, 2009

Given that she is one of Israel’s most popular musicians, Etti Ankri’s latest album may seem a little esoteric: it consists entirely of poems by the 12th-century philosopher, Rabbi Yehuda Halevy.

But Ms Ankri is not taking a gamble. In mainstream Israeli music today, sacred means sales.

Last year, a collection of songs based on the teachings of the 18th- and 19th-century Chasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Breslev reached gold album status, with buyers across the religious spectrum.


Ronnie Scott, jazz’s coolest Jew

By Gerald Jacobs, July 2, 2009

If memory is — as it is often described — a “storehouse”, then it is an exceptionally disordered one. Much of its most valuable material is covered in dust and darkness, while small, incidental items tumble out at the merest hint of a fragrance, the sight of a photograph or, especially, the sound of a bar or two of music.


Fame? We step to another beat

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

As a teenager, Nick Ingram knew Amy Winehouse. Growing up in the same part of north London, they performed together in shows for the local Jewish youth group. So it is entirely appropriate that Ingram’s first foray into the world of pop should be about the ravaging effects of fame.

The 26-year-old musician from Southgate is one half of The Yeah You’s, tipped to be the big band of the summer. He and 31-year-old Mike Kintish, from Broughton Park in Manchester, have just released their debut single, 15 Minutes, which is receiving rave reviews from, among others, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles.


Rockin! We finally made it — at 50

By Elisa Bray, June 18, 2009

A documentary about a failed heavy metal band would not be everyone’s top viewing choice, but it is the unexpected hit of the year. Anvil! The Story of Anvil follows lead singer Steven Kudlow, known as Lips, and drummer Robb Reiner — both well into their fifties — as they struggle to make it as rock stars while holding down day jobs.

Back in the early 1980s, Anvil was on the cusp of stardom. But while bands of a similar ilk — Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth — made it to the big stage, Anvil slipped into underground obscurity.


Coming to a field near you

By Alex Kasriel, May 21, 2009

Regina Spektor


Eurovision fiddler: is he really one of us?

By Keren David, May 21, 2009

He’s the Norwegian fiddler with the distinctive eyebrows who ended his country’s lamentable record at the Eurovision Song Contest when he won by scoring more points than any country before.

But is Alexander Rybak Jewish? Rumours are flying around cyberspace, but few seem to know the truth.


Simone’s got talent — and she’s proved it

By Alex Kasriel, April 30, 2009

The world is full of aspiring performers. You only have to look at Britain’s Got Talent for proof. So convinced are some of their own abilities that they put their own money on the line to record albums. Most disappear without trace. Not so Simone Dinnerstein.

Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based pianist self-produced an album of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The record became an instant bestseller, topped the critics’ charts and earned a prestigious French music award. At the relatively late age of 33, her career as a concert musician had been launched.


Zarif, Sy Kaye and Alexis Strum

By Paul Lester, April 23, 2009


Meet the upbeat Amy Winehouse. Zarif Davidson is the London-born daughter of an Iranian-Jewish mother and Scottish father who is currently wowing the music business — she has just been supporting US R&B supremo Chris Brown at the 02 Arena — with her exuberant pop-soul.


Rescuing Seder songs

By Alex Kasriel, March 26, 2009

It is a familiar story. You are sitting at the Seder table, having enjoyed a delicious meal of turkey and chrane. You have been through the Haggadah, manish tana has been sung and the afikomen hunted and found. Everything is perfect — that is, until it is time for the traditional table songs.

Versions of Chad Gadya start confidently but trail off into a quiet hum when everyone realises that no one actually knows the tune.


Shooting Iggy and Sir Paul

By Debby Elley, March 12, 2009

It was clear from the start that Howard Barlow was going to need some serious resilience to pull off a career as a rock photographer. The year was 1977 and the 23-year-old art college graduate was in the pit at Manchester’s Apollo theatre, clicking away at The Ramones. A wild, testosterone-fuelled crowd surged forward and smashed through the barrier separating stage from audience.