Rogovoy’s ‘Rockin’ the Shtetl’ to Receive CR10 Staging with Ryder Cooley

Zunser Dancing(LINLITHGO, N.Y.) – “Rockin’ the Shtetl,” a multimedia presentation by Seth Rogovoy, based on a novel-in-progress of the same title exploring the affinities between 19th-century Eastern European Yiddish songwriters and musicians and 20th century American Jewish folk-rock poets and protest singers, will have a work-in-progress showing at CR10 Arts on Sunday, August 23, at 4pm. Joining Rogovoy for the performance will be multimedia artist and musician Ryder Cooley.

The presentation dramatizes the historical figure of Elyokum Zunser, the first pop star of the Pale of Settlement, using narrative, video, and music. A little-known and unsung hero, Zunser started out working as a mid-19th-century wedding poet or emcee, only to take that traditional folk form and become a pioneer of original Yiddish protest songs in the late 1800s.

Elyokum Zunser became the most popular Jewish folksinger of his time, shocking and winning over audiences by building a new kind of protest music atop a foundation of folk tradition. And by working with a band of klezmer musicians, he became the closest thing the Old World had to a rock star and the voice of a generation. If this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it is.

He decided to raise the level of the … entertainer to the dignity of a singer about his people, their life and struggles … With a deep affection and regard for his suffering people, he sang of his times, pointed up the evils, satirized the guilty, stressed the good. – Folk historian Ruth Rubin

This event is curated by Francine Hunter McGivern, founder and director of CR10 Arts Contemporary Arts Project Space, located at 283 County Route 10 in Linlithgo, N.Y., just 10 minutes south of Hudson, N.Y. There is a suggested donation of $10 for the event; books, CDs, and artwork will be available for purchase.

(Please note: This presentation is entirely different from one with the same name that Seth Rogovoy has given in the past about the history and evolution of klezmer music. That presentation will henceforth be knows as “The Essential Klezmer” to more accurately reflect its content and to distinguish the two.)

Zunser and bandSeth Rogovoy is the author of two works of nonfiction, “The Essential Klezmer” (Algonquin, 2000) and “Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet” (Scribner, 2009). Best known as a cultural critic, freelance writer (Forward, Chronogram, The ARTery, etc.), editor/publisher of “The Rogovoy Report,” WAMC radio commentator, and artistic director of the annual YIDSTOCK Festival of New Yiddish Music at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., Rogovoy is also a musician and record producer, currently working with Ryder Cooley & Dust Bowl Faeries on their debut album. He lives in Hudson, N.Y.

“In some bizarre way,” says Rogovoy, “‘Rockin’ the Shtetl’ connects the accidental dots that exist between ‘The Essential Klezmer’ and ‘Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet.’”


Ryder Cooley (photo Noah Fowler)

Ryder Cooley (photo Noah Fowler)

Ryder Cooley is an interdisciplinary artist, musician, songwriter, aerialist, and performer. Cooley co-hosts the weekly Club Helsinki Hudson open-mic night, and leads the all-female gothic-folk ensemble Dust Bowl Faeries, which will record its debut album next month under the direction of Seth Rogovoy. Cooley lives in Hudson, N.Y.






  5 comments for “Rogovoy’s ‘Rockin’ the Shtetl’ to Receive CR10 Staging with Ryder Cooley

  1. Michael Saltz
    August 19, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Believe it or not, I am Eliakum’s great grandson (this is the way the name has been spelled within the family for decades) and have a home in Columbia County as does my sister. There is one other great grandson with a home in the Berkshires and two of Eliakum’s great great granddaughters life in the Berkshires as well. I know that my wife and I will be at your event on Sunday, though I’m not sure about any other members of the family at this time.

    • Amy Saltz
      August 21, 2015 at 12:29 am

      I’ll be there. There may be others too as word about this event spreads. We’re all excited and curious as can be.

  2. Susan Titelbaum
    August 24, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    My husband and I and our friends (who were visiting from Queens) were looking forward to attending your musical event in Linlithgo on Sunday. We spent several hours trying to find the location but were unsuccessful. Although we tried to get directions from various people in Hudson as well as in Germantown, no one was able to help us. There were no signs anywhere that indicated that the event was taking place nearby. Needless to say it was very frustrating and disappointing. Do you have any reasonable explanation for us?

    • Seth Rogovoy
      August 24, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      Dear Susan Titelbaum,
      I’m so sorry you weren’t able to find the venue. I plan to do more of these programs, so I hope you’ll be able to see it another time. Thanks so much for making the effort.
      — Seth Rogovoy

  3. Arthur Levy
    August 25, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Sorry I missed this program on 8/23. Very interested to see it next time. (I executive produced the three Klezmer CD reissues for Sony Legacy way back in 2002. I think I sent them to you. If not, let me know.)

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