Klezmatics, KCB, Socalled and Shepherds Headline Yidstock 2020

The Klezmatics

by Seth Rogovoy


(AMHERST, Mass.) – The Klezmatics, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Eleanor Reissa, Socalled, and Polina and Merlin Shepherd headline the ninth annual YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music, taking place at the Yiddish Book Center over the course of four days, Thursday, July 9 – Sunday, July 12.


The complete schedule and online box office are at YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music.

Eleanor Reissa

As part of the Book Center’s 40th anniversary, this year’s festival – once again curated by artistic director Seth Rogovoy — celebrates a “greatest hits” of the first nine years of Yidstock, featuring return appearances by many audience favorites, as well as new faces, new and reconfigured ensembles, and a rebooted concert/jam session by the Yidstock All-Stars, directed by trumpeter-bandleader Frank London (Klezmatics) and featuring trumpeter-vocalist Susan Hoffman Watts in her Yidstock debut.



Aviva Chernick

Additionally, the Aviva Chernick Ensemble, which won the hearts and minds of last year’s festival attendees, will return for a special pre-Shabbos concert on Friday, July 10, at 5:30pm. And bandleader Michael Winograd will bring his special program recreating the pathbreaking album TANZ!, originally recorded by immigrant-era clarinetist Dave Tarras with his son-in-law, Sam Musiker, in 1956, to be performed in tandem with Socalled’s new project featuring Yiddish hits of the Golden Era in a double-bill on Saturday, July 11, at 8pm.


Perennial Yidstock favorite Eleanor Reissa returns with a brand-new ensemble created specifically for this year’s Yidstock, featuring trumpeter Frank London, Radical Jewish Culture guitarist Yoshie Fruchter, and Anglo-Indian percussionist Deep Singh — London’s partner in their klezmer-bhangra fusion group, Sharabi — taking the stage on Friday, July 10, at 2:30pm.


Merlin and Polina Shepherd

Polina and Merlin Shepherd return to Yidstock for their third appearance, performing a duo concert on Sunday, July 12, at noon. The husband-and-wife duo, who are based in Brighton, England, will also be participating in a number of workshops and public conversations.


Merlin Shepherd will be one of a veritable Noah’s Ark of instrumentalists taking part in the Yidstock All-Stars jam session on Sunday, July 12, at 3pm. In addition to bandleader London and the aforementioned Susan Hoffman Watts, the All-Stars will include Socalled, Winograd, Lauren Brody, Richie Barshay, David Licht, Zoe Guigueno, and Paul Morrisett.


Klezmer Conservatory Band

Klezmer Conservatory Band

The Klezmer Conservatory Band will kick off the festival on Thursday, July 9, at 8pm, after an afternoon of talks, featuring Asya Vaisman Schulman on “The New Yiddish Textbook” at noon; “The Essential Klezmer” with Seth Rogovoy at 2pm; and “The KCB at 40: A View from the Trenches,” with founder-bandleader Hankus Netsky, at 4pm. The KCB, like the Yiddish Book Center, is also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.


As always, Steve Weintraub will be in residence for the entire festival to foster dancing and to lead his perennially sold-out dance workshops, with accompaniment by accordionist extraordinaire Lauren Brody. Brian Bender will teach his annual instrumental klezmer workshop, and he will accompany Asya Vaisman Schulman for her annual “Lomir Zingen! Yiddish Song Workshop.”


Aviva Chernick will lead a Shabbos song workshop on Friday morning and choirmaster Polina Shepherd will lead two Yiddish choral workshops on Friday and Saturday.


Talks will include “So Cool, So Jewish: The Bronx Salon of Yiddish Poet Bertha Kling,” by the Book Center’s bibliographer and editorial director, David Mazower — great-grandson of Yiddish writer Sholem Asch — on Saturday, July 11, at 11am, and “The Last Survivor,” with Eleanor Reissa, on Saturday, July 11, at 1pm.


Various artists will take part in public conversations moderated by Seth Rogovoy over the course of the festival, including Socalled, Michael Winograd, Polina and Merlin Shepherd, and Aviva Chernick.


The complete schedule and online box office are at YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music.



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