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      Israel Beat
      by Ben Bresky
      Poetry submissions, concert announcements, Israeli and Jewish music news, interviews and new CD reviews.
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      The Israel Beat blog is a place for poetry submission, concert announcemnets, upcoming shows and musings on Jewish music. The Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast brings you live in-studio performances with up and coming Israeli musicians as well as interviews with the stars of the Jewish music world. Plus your music requests and the free CD give-away air live on the show. Past interviews have included Matisyahu, Avraham Fried, and Miri Ben-Ari. The Beat with Ben Bresky broadcasts live every Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Israel time on Arutz Sheva - Israel National Radio. For more info email bbresky@israelnationalradio.com.

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      Tevet 26, 5769, 1/22/2009

      Jewish Poetry submission wanted!

      In the past I have saved the request for poetry for the Tisha B'Av period when traditionally music is not played. But I recieved so many great poems this past summer that I decided to try it again now and see what awesome entries I get. So if you have a poem of Jewish and / or Israeli content and want to read it on the air or have it posted on the blog, email me at bbresky@israelnationalradio.com.

      Kislev 28, 5769, 12/25/2008

      Chanukah Compilations CDs that Rock

      This Chanukah season, two new compilations albums geared towards modern hip Jewish music were released. But the concept isn't new. Back in the 1996 season, the Festival of Lights CD came out which featured top Jewish American performers. The highlight on the disc for me is Rock of Ages by Marc Cohn. The folksy acoustic version of the traditional Maoz Tzur song is very well done. Cohn won a Grammy Award for best new artist in 1991 and topped the charts with his song Walking in Memphis. There is also a rocking track by Peter Himmelman called Lighting Up the World. Like many of Peter Himmelman's songs, the content is Jewish, but you won't know it if you didn't know it.

      Himmelman is Bob Dylan's son-in-law and has released albums such as Gematria and From Strength to Strength which has songs that are partially based on Judaism, but again, don't directly reference it. His son Isaac Himmelman is gaining popularity with his MySpace and YouTube tracks.

      Wally Brill's The Covenant is also featured on the album. Brill was one of Ofra Haza's producers. His album the Covenant takes old cantorial records and remixes them as new age and electronica songs with a thumping beat. The tracks featured on the Festival of Lights album is pretty good, but I really like the song Rtzeh with Gershon Sirota.

      The other songs on the Festival of Lights album are good, but aren't really Chanukah related. The Klezmatics, John Zorn, Don Byron and other hip Jewish artists are featured. There’s really only two true Chanukah songs on the album.

      Festival of Lights 2 came out aroung 1999. The quirky pop duo They Might be Giants, who had a radio hit or two in the 1990s is on it with with a quirky Chanukah pop song. Peter Himmelman is again featured as well as Frank London of the Klezmatics and Neshama Carlebach. Again, the Chanukah content is not so pronounced.

      Here are the two releases that came out this month. I wrote about Craig Taubman's Lights: Celebrate Hanukkah Live in Concert here:

      I wrote about Erran Baron Cohen's Songs in the Key of Hanukkah here:

      Kislev 27, 5769, 12/24/2008

      Carlebach Influenced Chanukah Music

      Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach has one song in which he opens by telling a story of being at the Western Wall on the fourth night of Chanukah. This is closest to a Carlebach Chanukah song that I can think of right now. It is on a rare album called 6 Million in Heaven, 3 Million in Hell, a reference to the struggle of Jews in the Soviet Union. Most of the songs deal with "our holy brothers" trying to get out of Russia. You can find the lyrics by clicking here.

      But there are countless new young musicians whom Shlomo Carlebach influenced with his acoustic guitar style and impassioned Jewish themed vocals. 

      One is Zivi Ritchie, the author of many books about Shlomo Carlebach. He used to own a coffee shop called Cafe Carlebach which featured live music, which is where I met him and interviewed him way back in 2004. Zivi Ritchie has a great version of Maoz Tzur with a new original melody which sounds sort of like salsa, except from a guy that grew up on a Moshav in Israel with Shlomo Carlebach. For some Zivi Ritchie books, click here.

      Another great and unique song is Niggun Chanuka by Aaron Razel with its throbbing heavy bass and downbeat driving melody. It's from his 1997 album The Burning Bush which is available by clicking here.

      Naftali Abramson has his own unique upbeat version of Maoz Tzur also with original music. Its from his 2004 album Seeing the Good. Check it out by clicking here.






      There are also some great versions of Maoz Tzur by Marc Cohn, Craig Taubman, Rebbe Soul and Ben Kweller, all of which retain the traditional melody. We have them all in rotation this week on Israel National Radio's streaming audio.


      Kislev 24, 5769, 12/21/2008

      Judah and the Maccabees by groovy duo Damon and Naomi

      Judah and the Maccabees is a groovy, mellow song by the American rock duo Damon and Naomi. Here’s what Damon Krukowski says about the song in the liner notes:

      Track Three: Judah & the Maccabees
      Judah Maccabee led an uprising in ancient Israel, recapturing the Temple for the Jews. Damon says, “The song was physically inspired by renovations to the new Exact Change office, in the course of which we did a lot of poking into formerly closed up spaces. That connected to something haunting I saw at the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side — walled up spaces — and a metaphoric connection to my family's history. We're hoping
      for heavy rotation on Tel Aviv soft rock radio.”

      For more info visit here: http://www.damonandnaomi.com/albums/withghost/withghost.html

      Kislev 13, 5769, 12/10/2008

      Subminal's hardcore hip hop Chanukah song

      Banu Choshech Legaresh is a classic children's Chanukah song. But for some reason, I never heard of it until 2002 when it was covered by the Israeli hip-hop duo Subliminal and the Shadow. The throbbing, heavy, ominous beats are mixed with rapid fire raps. I am including are the lyrics courtesy of Hebrewsongs.com. Here is a video someone made for the song on YouTube, as well as a rock version with what looks like long haired religious Israeli teenagers. If you know of any more cool Chankuah songs, email me.

      We Came to Drive Away the Darkness
      We came to drive away the darkness
      in our hands is light and fire.
      Everyone's a small light,
      and all of us are a firm light.

      Fight darkness, further blackness!
      Fight because of the light!

      Tzil-tzil-tzil in the bells,
      who are we? - spinning tops.
      We have one leg,
      if we fall - we still won't fear.

      Fight darkness, further blackness!
      Fight because of the light!


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