(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Hagar and Miriam. Judith and Hannah. The Bible is full of stories – often overlooked, underwritten or ignored – about women. The Patriarchs get all the play, but there’s plenty of drama in the stories of the Matriarchs and their sisters and cousins. Which is what motivated songwriter-vocalist-violinist Alicia Jo Rabins to devote herself to rebooting their stories in the form of art-pop and chamber-rock songs with her band, Girls in Trouble, which performs at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire (270 State Rd.) on Saturday, October 27, 2012, at 7:30 p.m.
Rabins’s beguiling, intimate, indie rock style suits the often scandalous, murderous tales of the Scriptural heroines. Formerly a member of folk bands Underbelly and the Mammals as well as Yiddish-klezmer ensemble Golem, Rabins distills the stories of Girls in Trouble for contemporary taste, drawing parallels between the female characters in the Bible’s tales and herself via captivating song and story which disinter the long dead women, bringing them to vibrant energy as reflections on modern living. Although drawn from ancient scripture, the dramas told in the songs are utterly contemporary and speak of timeless human — and female — challenges, struggles, heartbreaks, and triumphs.
A classically trained violinist since the age of three, Rabins grew up practicing Bach and sneaking out to Baltimore punk shows. She began touring at eighteen, when she fell in love with traditional fiddle music, then traveled to Jerusalem to immerse herself in a new realm – the study of ancient languages and texts. For two years, she absorbed the stories and rituals of the Torah and Kabbalah. Returning to the States, Rabins attempted to resume her regular life, but found herself haunted still by the ancient stories she had encountered in her studies– especially those of Biblical women.
Realizing their stories echoed with the traditional folk ballads she loved, Rabins began writing her first songs, taking these Biblical women as her subjects. As she composed, harmonizing quietly into her laptop so as not to wake her roommates, Rabins’s love of American folk and underground rock fused indelibly with her knowledge of the Hebrew Bible: Girls in Trouble was born.
When bassist Aaron Hartman (Old Time Relijun, K Records) overheard Alicia describing the project in a Brooklyn bar, he introduced himself, and soon became an integral part of Girls in Trouble. Rabins wrote, arranged, sang the songs, and performed the string parts, but it was Hartman who expanded Girls in Trouble into a full band. Three months before the release of their debut album, Rabins and Hartman wed; since then, the full band has toured across the US and Europe, sleeping on floors and playing a range of venues, from The Smell in Los Angeles to the Great Synagogue in Stockholm, Sweden.
Co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Hevreh, and Congregation Ahavath Sholom, the cost is $10 and reservations may be made at 413.442.4360, ext. 10, where information is also available.