Klezmatics, Socalled Headline Yidstock Festival in Amherst, July 14-15

Josh Dolgin aka Socalled

(AMHERST, Mass.) – The Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics and Yiddish/hip-hop superstar Socalled headline YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music, at the Yiddish Book Center the weekend of July 14-15, 2012. The five-day event, which begins on July 11 and also features performances by Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars with vocalist Eleanor Reissa, the Michael Winograd Trio, a klezmer brunch with the Brian Bender Duo, a film festival, a klezmer workshop, and a multimedia presentation by music critic and Yidstock curator Seth Rogovoy, also features the world premiere of the new ensemble, Hankus Netsky & Hebrew National Salvage, led by the founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band and featuring longtime KCB clarinetist Ilene Stahl.

In the words of Yidstock programmer Seth Rogovoy, award-winning music critic and author of The Essential Klezmer, “The bands at Yidstock will be rockin’ the shtetl, both figuratively and literally — the shtetl in this case being the Yiddish Book Center’s 49,000-square-foot headquarters in Amherst, Massachusetts.”

“Yidstock offers a rare opportunity over the course of two days for festivalgoers to take in performances by several generations of the most accomplished and influential klezmer musicians, including those who revived the music in the 1980s, those who made it blossom in the klezmer renaissance of the 1990s, and those who are blazing new trails well into the 21st century,” says Rogovoy. “In addition, several of the ensembles slated to perform share musicians among them, making the weekend-long festival a kind of extended jam session.”

Tickets for individual events, all-inclusive Yidstock Festival Passes, and group packages may be purchased online at YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music or by phone at 413.256.4900.

In collaboration with Yidstock, the Yiddish Book Center will present two co-partnered events at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass. Barrington Stage’s Celebration of Yiddish Folklore and Music events include: New Riffs on Everyone’s Favorite Yiddish Story with Aaron Lansky, founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center, Sunday, July 8 at 3 pm, and Fiddler Off the Roof: A Klezmer Event with Golem and Seth Rogovoy, Monday, July 9 at 7 p.m.


Saturday, July 14, 7 p.m.: Socalled with Michael Winograd Trio

Josh Dolgin, aka Socalled, nearly singlehandedly dragged klezmer into the hip-hop era with his groundbreaking recordings, HiphopKhasene, in 2003, and The So Called Seder: A Hip Hop Haggadah in 2005. With those two recordings and their melding of rapping and beat-heavy Jewish rhythms, modes, and melodies with contemporary technological music forms including sampling, scratching, and looping, Socalled virtually invented his own genre of klezmer, which he dubbed “hiphopkele.” Socalled joined forces with clarinet great David Krakauer and former James Brown sideman Fred Wesley for the klezmer-funk fusion project Abraham Inc.

Clarinetist Michael Winograd is one of the busiest young musicians on the scene. Having come up the ranks as a student at KlezKamp, studying with many of the pioneers of the klezmer revival and renaissance, Winograd is now himself a teacher as well as a musical trailblazer, whether he is leading his own ensembles in the United States or on European festival stages, or accompanying a who’s who of contemporary Yiddish musicians, including the late vocalist Adrienne Cooper, with whom Winograd performed at the Yiddish Book Center last year, and Socalled, with whom Winograd performs in this concert in addition to leading his own group.


Sunday, July 15, 10:30 a.m.: Klezmer Brunch: Brian Bender Duo

Brian Bender Duo, featuring David Tasgal on fiddle and clarinet and Brian Bender on keyboard and vocals. The world is Brian Bender’s musical canvas. The multi-instrumentalist (trombone, trumpet, melodica, keyboards, percussion), producer, teacher, composer, bandleader, and recording engineer is a conservatory-trained musician equally at home in Latin, reggae, Brazilian, Celtic, avant-jazz, and klezmer. That home just happens to be right here in the Pioneer Valley.


Hankus Netsky

Sunday, July 15, Noon: Hankus Netsky & Hebrew National Salvage:

Featuring Hankus Netsky, Ilene Stahl, Andy Blickenderfer, and Eden MacAdam-Somer. Eastern European Jewish melodies rescued from the brink of extinction, including selections drawn from the archives of the Yiddish Book Center’s Lee & Alfred Hutt Discovery Gallery, performed by some of the leading figures on the contemporary klezmer scene. The scion of a klezmer dynasty from the Old World by way of Philadelphia, Hankus Netsky is one of the original klezmer revivalists. As the founder of the Klezmer Conservatory Band and a longtime instructor at the New England Conservatory, Netsky has trained, taught, directed, and sent out into the world several generations of contemporary klezmer musicians, including Frank London, Ilene Stahl, and Brian Bender, to name just a few on this weekend’s bill.


Sunday, July 15, 2 p.m. Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars with Eleanor Reissa

At last count, Frank London’s appearances on recordings numbered well over 300. A charter member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band while still a student at the New England Conservatory, the trumpeter/composer went on to cofound the Klezmatics as well as to have a hand in dozens of other groundbreaking musical projects both within and without the Yiddish music world. Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars are a genre-bending, cross-cultural outfit tying together New Orleans, North Africa, and the Balkans. The multi-talented Eleanor Reissa is equally at home on the dramatic stage, in cabaret settings, as a playwright, director, and as a Yiddish vocalist.



Sunday, July 15, 4 p.m.: Klezmatics

The Klezmatics

The world-renowned Grammy Award-winning group the Klezmatics have performed in venues around the globe including festival stages, rock nightclubs, and concert halls, testament to their broad scope and widespread appeal. Blending instrumental and vocal virtuosity and experimentation with theatricality firmly ensconced in klezmer and Yiddish tradition, the Klezmatics brought the revival of klezmer into the rock era, blazing the path for the klezmer renaissance with one foot in the shtetl and the other in the downtown avant-garde.


Films, Lecture, Workshop, July 11-14:

Wednesday, July 11, 2 pm| film: In the Fiddler’s House

Virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman takes viewers on an eye- and ear- opening tour of klezmer music, from New York to Krakow in In the Fiddler’s House. This traditional music of Yiddish-speaking cultures, which infuses other Eastern European influences from Romania, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, remains important in Jewish immigrant culture. In addition to guest stars Red Buttons and Fyvush Finkel, klezmer groups such as Kapelye, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and the Klezmatics perform.


Wednesday, July 11, 7 pm | film: The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground

The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground provides an upbeat, enlightening look at the colorful personalities in and creative process behind the Grammy Award-winning band, the Klezmatics. This neo-klezmer sextet achieved fame by mixing Yiddish tunes from the Eastern European Jewish tradition with eclectic musical influences, and by collaborating with talents like Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Nelson. Following the band over several years from the recording studio to the world stage, director Erik Greenberg-Anjou captures these gifted artists as they make joyous song while balancing career and family.


Thursday, July 12, 2 pm | film: A Tickle in the Heart

An international smash hit, A Tickle in the Heart captures the story of the Epstein Brothers – Max, Willie and Julius – klezmer legends on a joyous and hilarious international tour. The Epsteins are natural performers, and their sense of life, music, and family as they tour through places they love – from Poland to Brooklyn to Florida – is as life-affirming and intoxicating as the joyous music they play.


Thursday, July 12, 7 pm | film: The Socalled Movie

Socalled, aka Josh Dolgin, is the supreme klezmer hip-hop funk artist in the world. A pianist, singer, rapper, accordion player, and magician, he’s a demented Renaissance man and a multi-cultural mixmaster. The Socalled Movie is a kaleidoscopic portrait which compiles 18 short films that display his electrifying craft and deep-rooted sense of history. Combining traditional Yiddish songs with funk, rap, and everything in between, his tunes are densely layered tapestries of dizzying complexity. With offbeat wit, intimacy, and virtuoso performances, The Socalled Movie is an enthralling documentary that shows how music can break down the boundaries that divide our world.


Friday, July 13, 2 pm | film: A Jumpin’ Night in the Garden of Eden

A Jumpin’ Night in the Garden of Eden was the first film to document the klezmer revival, tracing the efforts of two founding groups, Kapelye and Boston’s Klezmer Conservatory Band, to recover the lost history of klezmer music. For nearly a millennium, this vigorous and soulful music was part of the celebration of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. In the early decades of this century, the music took root in America. Lively, clever, and often humorous, this film contains rare footage of klezmer’s elder statesmen and their dynamic encounters with the contemporary generation of musicians who are now bringing klezmer to life.


Friday, July 13, 4 pm | Instructional Klezmer Workshop

Instantly learn how to play klezmer with world-touring klezmer musician Brian Bender. Open to all ages, instruments (sorry, no vocalists), and playing ability.


Saturday, July 14, 4 pm | “Rockin’ the Shtetl: The Essential Klezmer” with music critic and author Seth Rogovoy

Klezmer author and Yidstock curator Seth Rogovoy

Seth Rogovoy’s multimedia program “Rockin’ the Shtetl: The Essential Klezmer” takes listeners on a journey via music, pictures, and storytelling, tracing klezmer’s evolution and development from Old World shtetls to New World nightclubs. The program includes insights into the sound and shape of klezmer and introduces many of the great heroes who helped transform Eastern European Yiddish wedding music into a living, breathing popular form of American music. Seth Rogovoy is the author of The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music, the all-time bestselling guide to klezmer music. An award-winning music critic, teacher, radio commentator, and musician, Rogovoy – who curated the Yiddish Book Center’s Yidstock festival – is the editor and publisher of Berkshire Daily and the Rogovoy Report and the author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet, the first full-length biographical analysis of the famed rock poet from a Jewish perspective. Rogovoy frequently writes about Jewish music and culture for The Jewish Daily Forward, Pakn Treger, and the Berkshire Jewish Voice.



Since its founding in 1980, the Yiddish Book Center has rescued a million endangered Yiddish books, strengthened collections of more than 600 libraries around the world, digitized and posted 11,000 Yiddish books online, and offered a range of innovative programs to advance knowledge of Yiddish language, literature, and culture. The Yiddish Book Center’s distinctive headquarters in Amherst, MA, features exhibitions, concerts, performances, films, and lectures.





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