Seth Rogovoy is an author, award-winning critic, and cultural journalist.
Seth also works or has worked as an editor, radio commentator, lecturer, teacher, cultural programmer, marketing consultant, talent buyer’s agent, record producer, theatrical producer, artist manager, songwriter, and amateur photographer and musician.
Termed “American Jewry’s greatest Dylan scholar” by Religion News Service, Seth is the author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet (Scribner, 2009) a full-length analysis of Bob Dylan’s life and work, and The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music (Algonquin Books, 2000), the all-time bestselling guide to klezmer music, and which has been translated into Chinese and Korean.
Seth’s article, “On the Road with Moe Asch,” about the legendary founder of Folkways Records, will be anthologized in How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish, Ilan Stavans and Josh Lambert, co-eds., due from Restless Books in 2020.
For over a quarter century, Seth’s work has appeared in the English-language national Jewish newsweekly, the Forward, to which Seth is a contributing editor.
Seth is the recipient of a 2016 Simon Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association for excellence in arts and criticism, for his portrait of musician Leonard Cohen published in Hadassah Magazine in its April/May 2015 issue.
Seth is editor and publisher of The Rogovoy Report – an online magazine of cultural and critical news and observations, also available in the form of a weekly e-newsletter.
Seth also does cultural, editorial, and marketing consulting. He is the programming consultant for the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., where he curates the center’s annual YIDSTOCK: Festival of New Yiddish Music, which debuted in summer 2012, and which continues under his artistic direction. He is the producer of FROM SHTETL to STAGE: A Celebration of Yiddish Music & Culture, which debuted before a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall on April 15, 2019.
Seth’s weekly cultural commentary can be heard on WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network on Midday Magazine on Fridays between 12:50 and 1 p.m.
Seth was editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Berkshire Living, a perennially award-winning regional lifestyle and culture magazine that served the greater Berkshire region of western Massachusetts, southwestern Vermont, eastern New York, and northwestern Connecticut faithfully for six years. He was also editor-in-chief of Berkshire Living‘s spinoff publications, including BBQ: Berkshire Business Quarterly and Berkshire Living Home+Garden, as well as Berkshire Living’s online platforms and social media feeds. Seth’s regular column of music and cultural criticism, “The Beat Goes On,” that ran in every issue of Berkshire Living, garnered him four consecutive awards from the National City and Regional Magazine Association for General Criticism.
For over 30 years, Seth has been a rock and jazz critic, primarily for Berkshire Living and the Berkshire Eagle, and also for dozens of other newspapers and magazines. Seth’s cultural journalism – including essays and reviews on dance, books, theater, film, and visual arts – has appeared in newspapers and magazines including Newsday, the Boston Phoenix, Haaretz (Israel), Jewish Quarterly (UK), Jewish Press (UK), Tablet, Chronogram, the Woodstock (N.Y.) Times, the Bennington (Vt.) Banner, the Register-Star (Columbia County, N.Y.), the Berkshire Jewish Voice, Sing Out!, Edutopia, Gastronomica, Moment, Leak CD Magazine, Audition, On the Tracks, the Black and White City Paper of Birmingham, Ala., and others. He is also a regular contributor to WBUR’s online arts and culture magazine, The ARTery, and to Kripalu’s wellness and yoga blog, Thrive.
Seth frequently writes about Jewish music and culture for publications including Forward, Pakn Treger, and Hadassah Magazine.
Seth writes, teaches, and lectures extensively about klezmer and Bob Dylan. His live, one-man, multimedia programs about klezmer, The Essential Klezmer, and Bob Dylan, The Kabbalah of Bob Dylan, have been presented at universities, JCCs, museums, cultural centers, and synagogues across the U.S. and in England, where he has been an invited presenter at the renowned Limmud Conference three times.
Seth is currently working on Rockin’ the Shtetl, a multi-platform project exploring the affinities between 19th-century Eastern European Yiddish songwriters and musicians and 20th-century American folk-rock poets and protest singers. This is simultaneously being created as a multimedia program with live music (which received a work-in-progress showing at CR10 Arts in Linlithgo, N.Y., in summer 2015, and at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., in summers 2016 and 2017) and as a long-form written narrative.
Seth has taught a variety of college-level and adult-ed courses on klezmer, Jewish music, and Bob Dylan, about whom he has written extensively.
Seth is also a singer-guitarist and has led several bands, including the Rolling Rogovoy Revue, Rumble Strip, and Seth Rogovoy and the Grove Street Band. He has performed at Club Helsinki in Hudson, N.Y., and Great Barrington, Mass.; at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England; in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass.; at Rafi’s Steakhouse in Tiberias, Israel; at Pini’s Pub and on Ben-Yehuda Street in Jerusalem; and at Bob Dylan tribute concerts throughout the Northeastern United States. He has also read performance poetry at The Stone in the East Village, N.Y.C.
Seth is an amateur photographer. His photos have been published in the Albany Times Union, Berkshire Living, and all over Facebook. He is also a devoted practitioner of Ashtanga yoga.
Seth served two terms as a member of the Board of Selectmen in Pownal, Vt., and is a past president of a food co-op and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Williamstown, Mass. Seth was the founder and lay leader of the South Berkshire Minyan, a traditional Jewish prayer group, based at a shtibl in Great Barrington, Mass., from 2003 to 2006. Seth currently serves as a board member of the Hudson (N.Y.) Development Corporation (HDC).
A native New Yorker, Seth was born in Jackson Heights, N.Y., lived briefly in Bay Shore, and grew up in Islip, N.Y., where he attended public schools.
A graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where he has taught courses on Bob Dylan and klezmer, Seth lived in the Berkshires, where he raised a family, for about three decades. His daughter is a dancer and choreographer based in Brooklyn, and his son, based in Los Angeles, is a rock star who performs under the name Barely Alive.
Seth lives in Hudson, N.Y., and in New York City with his wife, Linda Friedner, a media lawyer who works in book publishing.