I have an assignment to write for the Moishe House blog this month, which I felt I should practice for here, on the blog that no one really reads terribly often. There are very few people who make me proud to be a human, let alone a Jew. The people on this list are rare birds that bring a lot of light into the world.
Judd Greenstein, one of the three co-directors of New Amsterdam Records, is an award-winning, self-described indie-classical composer based in Brooklyn. Not only the creator of contemporary, relevant composed music, Greenstein also promotes his comrades such as Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Annie Clark (St. Vincent), and Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards), among others. He is curator of the Ecstatic Music Festival, an annual event which brings together seemingly disparate artists to create incredible, moving collaborations. Most Jewish in his list of accomplishments is Greenstein's Six Points Fellowship where he spent a year composing the full-length work, Solomon, which was performed by a group he assembled called Yehudim. To learn more about this fellowship, check out http://sixpointsfellowship.org/.
Amy Klein, also known as Amy Rebecca Klein, also known as the front woman of Leda and Hilly Eye, also known as the unofficial founder of Permanent Wave, also formerly of Titus Andronicus, is a goddess in Jewish feminism today. Educated, brilliant, talented, literary, and loud, Amy has accomplished so much in her twenty-seven years, including the unofficial founding of Permanent Wave. This non-wave feminist arts collective seeks to "challenge gender inequality as it manifests itself in art, politics, and personal lives." It was inspired in part by violence against women in Amy's immediate environment, in addition to the inequality between men and women in the music industry. Since its founding in late 2010, Permanent Wave has spread from New York to the San Francisco Bay, Philadelphia, Boston, Minneapolis, and even Omaha, Nebraska. A hallmark of Permanent Wave is the organization of music shows featuring all female-identifying, queer, people of color, and youth performers.
Mirah, born Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, in Philadelphia is a singer-songwriter known for writing classic works on K Records in the Pacific Northwest during the golden age of lady rock. While at Evergreen State College, Mirah began a fruitful collaboration with Phil Elvrum of Mt. Eerie/The Microphones releasing early solo albums with songs such as "The Garden", "Nobody Has to Stay", "Jerusalem", and "Don't Die in Me". More recently, Mirah has released an incredible collaborative music effort with Thao Nguyen, who recently toured with the boys of WNYC's Radiolab. An icon in the making known for rocking short Betty Page bangs and kimono tops, Mirah will certainly be remembered for being a cult musical diva as well as the Leonard Cohen of her generation. She was definitely born with the Jewish, eloquent literati gene.
Alicia Jo Rabins is a musician, poet, Torah scholar, mother, and slightly obscure folk-rock star based in Brooklyn and Portland. I first heard of her music in the form of her masters thesis (in Jewish Womens Studies at JTS no less) turned band Girls in Trouble in the year her all-Jewish record label, JDub, unsurprisingly went under. This record label really had no chance at succeeding unfortunately, but at least their artists are still chugging along and releasing work. As a poet, Rabins has been published in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, 6x6, Court Green, anthologies from NYU Press and Knopf, and Artscape Press. Like Judd Greenstein, Alicia Jo is also a recent Six Points Fellow who created "an experimental rock opera about the spiritual implications of the current financial crisis, examining the figure of Bernard Madoff (and the system he represents) through the lens of rabbinic Jewish texts about financial ethics, the meaning of wealth, and the inevitability of cycles."
Schmekel is now not only Yiddish for "tiny penis", but also the name of the first queer Jewcore band ever. Based in Brooklyn, Nogga Schwartz, Ricky Riot, Lucian Kahn, and Simcha Halpert-Hanson are a quartet of transgendered Jews who pen songs about their experiences in a very borscht belt, bathroom humor sort of way. Their songs celebrate their bar mitzvahs, which has been a major marketing tool in their journey (you can buy a t-shirt that says "I survived Schmekel's Bar Mitzvah"), which I find really poignant. When the musicians in Schmekel were thirteen, they had Bat Mitzvot, which was not the correct prefix for any of their Mitzvot, then or now. The reason this band is on this list is because of the grace with which Schmekel unapologetically owns their trans and Jewish identities with a strong sense of humor. Schmekel shows are never a pity party or an angst-ridden fest, they always capture the authentic, loud, jubilant personalities of the band mates.
The Shondes (too controversial to write about for MoHo, but I LOVE them anyway. Same with Jenna Peters-Golden, not a musician but still awesome).
Are you an amazing Jewish contributor to music today too? Are you not on this very short list? Please holler at me, or challah at me if that's easier, and I'll gladly book you in Philly! In a perfect world, my Moishe House would, can, and has definitely doubled as a welcoming yet cutting edge house show venue.
I've thought about doing NaNo for years, but never feeling I had any business dealing with expressing myself through language in complete sentences in a proper order. I've always been embarrassed with my creative prose, I think mostly out of laziness and cynicism. This year, my take on NaNo will be through music, a simple baby step towards perfecting a hobby that really makes me happy. Thus, the beginning of my month of learning and perfecting a new song everyday using my voice, melodica, piano, drums, and anything I can find. Eventually I will record them all for myself and if you'd like to hear them I suppose you can check them out too.
November 1 - "I Eat Dinner", Kate and Anna McGarrigle
November 2 - "Nantes" - Beirut
November 3 - "You Don't Own Me" - Leslie Gore
November 4 - "Sky Phenomenon" - Jens Lekman
November 5 - "Time Has Told Me" - Nick Drake
November 6 - "Farewell to Nova Scotia" - Traditional Canadian
November 7 - "Fruit Tree" - Nick Drake
November 8 - "Alice" - Cocteau Twins
November 9 - "Barbarella" - The Bongos
November 10 - "Vals Liepaja" - DVA
November 11 - "My Town" - Kate and Anna McGarrigle
November 12 - "Cheminant a la Ville" - Kate and Anna McGarrigle
November 13 - "Bigger Bolder" - Love is All
November 14 - "Rising" - Llasa de Sela
November 15 - "Oh the divorces" - Tracey Thorn
November 16 - "Stone's Ode" - Mount Eerie
November 17 - "Chega de Saudade" - Elizete Cardoso
November 18 - "Molino Molero" - Susana Baca
November 19 - "Take my breath away" - Berlin
November 20 - "Femme Fatale" - The Velvet Underground
November 21 - "Bells" - Electrelane
November 22 - "Rivers and Roads" - The Head and the Heart
November 23 - "Dig a Pony" - The Beatles
November 24 - "Dream a Little Dream of Me" - Ella Fitzgerald
November 25 - "Peach Plum Pear" - Joanna Newsom
November 26 - "Gay Messiah" - Rufus Wainwright
November 27 - "Already Home" - Jay-Z
November 28 - "O Superman" - Laurie Anderson
November 29 - "This Pimp's A Tourist" - MC D-Feld
November 30 - "Proserpina" - Kate McGarrigle
Le Grand Continental, a project I've immersed myself in all summer has come to a close this weekend with three performances and an immense sense of how special of an experience it was. Starting this process in May, I was so cynical about the purpose of dance in my community, but now I've realized that it was my personal community and not dance itself that was making me lose faith. I am so happy that I stuck with Sylvain and Sarah and the rest and let myself just have some fun. When I stopped questioning why I was doing it, I figured out why.
Check out this excerpt from "Dial Tones" featuring Permanent Wave members who learned the phrase in only 30 minutes!
I am so excited to start rehearsing next month!
I had such a fabulous time performing at WOMYNSFEST at the Rotunda! Thanks so much to Vitamin D for giving all of the women a venue to share for each other. I was quite impressed with the performers, particularly the dazzling Rosa Diaz and the fabulous Liberty City Drag Kings (LiCK).