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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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      Av 21, 5768, 8/22/2008

      Shivi Keller, Yehuda Poliker and the KKK

      Today Yehezkel called me to ask me if I knew any sad Jewish songs for a new movie he's making. I played a bit part in a political satire he did. I first met Yehezkel when he was doing volunteer work with new immigrants. Here is his entry for the Nefesh BNefesh "why I love Israel" short film contest. I think it exhibits a certain level of ridiculosity. Yehezkel plays all the parts, including the KKK member. It didn't win.

      So I told Yehezkel that he should try Ein Od Milvado, the band headed by Shivi Keller. If Pink Floyd lived in Hebron, hung out with Shlomo Carlebach and suffered from multiple terrorist attacks, then they would be Ein Od Milvado. The new album actually has some upbeat songs on it. The first two discs are super mellow, moody and dreamy. Like the last track, a 15 minute anthem entitled Ein Od Milvado in which the only words are Ein Od Milvado. It starts slow, with just a voice and one instrument and builds into a crescendo of sound. Many of the songs are similar. Here is my old interview with Shivi Keller, lead singer and songwriter.

      Here is his brand new reggae remix of Ein Od Milvado and funky video..

      I also recommended to Yehezkel that he check out Yehuda Poliker, reputed to be Israel's saddest singer. He has a kind of rainy day, moody slow song feel. His father is a Holocaust survivors and he has some songs on that subject. Here is a video of Yehuda Poliker singing "When You Grow Up".

      So if anyone knows any really good sad Jewish songs, especially if they are religious in nature or from a religious singer, email me and I will forward them on to Yehezkel.

      Av 5, 5768, 8/6/2008

      The little bird is calling he wishes to return

      I just discovered an acapella version of The Little Bird from Avrumi Flam's album Songs for the 3 Weeks (Acapella). It's a very sad song which many children know from school or from the back pages of their bentchers. Here are the lyrics.  I used this song in our Tisha B'Av special which is to air this Sunday.

      There's a great Shlomo Carebach Story about Tisha B'Av off Dov Shurin's You Are With Me album, a collection of songs and stories with Shlomo and Dov. It's a good album for some rare Carlebach material and some early versions of Dov Shurin classics. The story is about a husband and wife who break up. Reb Shlomo relates it to Tisha B'Av and the destruction of the Temple.



      Av 3, 5768, 8/4/2008

      Acapella rap / hip hop video Y-Love, Subliminal & more

      The only time my show The Beat was ever pulled off the air was during the 3 Weeks when I played acapella rap. It was a track off the TACT Family All Stars album and what I thought was a creative spoken word hip-hop style piece in Hebrew. I didn’t pay much attention to the words, considering we're an English language station. And no one emailed me about it. The next day Yishai Fleisher looked at me and laughed and shook his head. He told me the lyrics wern't exactly rated PG.

      But not all of TACT's stuff is leud. The latest released is called Bat 60 and is a tribute to the State of Israel's 60th anniversary. The song is a collaboration between Subliminal, the most well-known rapper of the TACT Family and its executive producer and The Gevatron, a kibbutz singing group that began in the 1960's.


      There is also Home, by SHI 360, which is a tribute to the birthright program that brings young Jewish people to Israel for free. SHI 360's family is Israeli but he grew up in Canada. He made aliyah after having been on a birthright program. He is now a successful musician performing in English, French and Hebrew. 

      TACT Records has been mailing us CD singles such as these for the past several years. Each one contains 3 tracks; the single, the acapella / vocals only and then the intrumentals only. Why separate them like this? I don't know. Maybe for DJs to mix and mash them. Once I tried to mix and mash Subliminal with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach one year for Purim using these singles. It didn't work out so well and no one emailed me regarding it. Maybe one of you out there can do a better job and email it to me. I'll play it on the radio.

      For those of you who love rap music and hate acapella music, acapella rap might just be a breath of fresh air. Most of these singles are not available in the store and mailed only to radio stations and others as promotionals. But I did find most of them for sale on www.israel-music.com. Some notable acapella rap singles I have enjoyed have been from the following: 

      Gavriel Butler is really a singer not a rapper. He has a kind of an r&b style. He is from the African-American community of Dimona in the south of Israel, sometimes called the Black Hebrews. His brother Eddie Butler was in the singing group Eden and represented Israel in the Eurovision song contest in 2006. Another singer in the TACT Family is Itzhik Shamli who has a kind of Mizrachi - Sephardic style.

      One rapper is called Booskills and has a remix of an old 1970s Tzvika Pick song featuring Tzvika Pick's daughters, who kind of resemble Britney Spears. In a previous blog entry I discussed how most young Israelis I know seem to hate Tzvika Pick. I chuckle when I think of this rap remix being the most annoying thing they could conjure up. And finally, HaTzel, or The Shadow, the angry, raspy voiced "hip-hop Tzioni (Zionist)" who has a new full length CD which depicts a Jewish star with a middle finger in the inside cover. I guess it's kind of a 2008 hip-hop version of the old JDL symbol.

      In other acapella news, Shabak Samech the Israeli rap metal band from the mid 1990s (before rap-metal was popular) has an acapella version of one of their songs. And I found an acapella Yemenite song by David Dor, but not the David Dor from the 1990s, the one from the 1970s who released an album of haunting and classic Jewish Yemenite melodies.

      And finally, the ultimate Jewish acapella rapper is Y-Love who last year released an all acapella album featuring beatboxing. The songs are mostly in English from a religious orthodox perspective. I have a full interview with him in the upcoming issue of Shiur Times, so keep a look out. Here is a 3-weeks-friendly video of Y-Love rapping the Purim song.


      Tammuz 27, 5768, 7/30/2008

      CD Review: Beat'achon - Jewish acapella soul food

      I would call Beat'achon a true acapella singing group in that they formed as an acapella group as opposed to releasing a special acapella CD. There are seven members at least on the album cover, more are listed on the web site. They have a full group style of singing similar to maybe a barbershop quartet or do-wop groups of the 1950s. But then again as with many Jewish music groups, they are hard to categorize. Who else releases acapella albums? Who else does the kinds of musical things that Jewish groups do?

      One of the groups members id Jordan B. Gorfinkel who after Beat'achon went on to produce the Voices for Israel: We Stand as One project in 2004 with Yehuda!. The two CD set features the largest gathering of Jewish and singers together for a pro-Israel tribute. A follow-up CD of all women singers was released in called Keeping the Faith. Gorfinkel also writes and draws the Jewish themed comic strip Everything's Relative.

      Beat'achon has three discs. West Side Zmirot is mostly Shabbat songs and familiar melodies for such traditional standards as Eyshet Chayil and Shalom Alechem. The music is mostly straight forward group singing. Jewish A Capella has more "doop doop doop" in it and also features traditonal songs, such as Psalms with some new a upbeat arrangements. They have a third CD called Soul Food.

      As a side note, I have a friend named Teddy who in high school was very much into Israeli hip-hop such as Subliminal and TACT records. Once he came on the radio with me and started raving about Beat'achon and how "tight" and "sick" their vocals were. It surprised me, but I try never to argue with the musical taste of a high school student.

      I also discovered some new Jewish acapella CDs which I hope to get the time to review They are: Avrumi Flam presents Songs for the 3 Weeks, Y-Love and Yuri Lane the Human Beatboxer's acapella rap CD, Lev Tahor volume 3, Eli Gerstner's hasidic acapella album, TACT records acapella rap singles, David D'or sings Yemenite acapella and a disc with no cover simply entitled Hasidi Vocali.

      This week on The Beat: A Step-Mother's Poem for Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva Student

      Poetry week on the Beat continues with Leah Moses, step-mother of a Merkaz HaRav student. Plus Sreekara Sharma calls in from Malaysia, Eli Newman, Jean Krainik, Rachel Beitsch and Lester Mobley.

      Plus an interview with Jack from Teruah Jewish music blog. An exciting, in-depth discussion on the thriving Jewish music scene and his exploration of it.

      The Beat - Poetry and Teruah interview

      Download the mp3
      (right click and choose "save target as" or "save link as")

      Tammuz 23, 5768, 7/26/2008

      CD Review: Hasidic Niggun as Sung by the Hasidim

      The following two CDs are both from the Jewish Music Research  Center series which also includes Music of the Mountain Jews, Jewish Women's Songs from India and other preservations of Jewish musical traditions.  The two that I have and use as acapella CDs are The Hasidic Niggun as Sung by the Hasidim and The Western Sephardi Liturgical Tradition.

      In the first all the songs are traditional hasidic melodies, many sung in a large group at a tish or farbregin or other mass gatherings. To hear the crowd singing a powerful "ai yai yai" in unison makes me feel like I'm there. Other tracks feature a single singer, some mournful, some happy. There is a thick, detailed booklet that comes with the two-CD set that describes each song and a little about the hasidic group it comes from.

      Some songs are not specific to any one group and considered applicable to all hasidic groups. The CD calls these part of the pan-hasidic dynasty. That's a cool sounding phase. I personally hadn't even heard of many of these hasidic groups let alone knew that this many actually existed, and that makes it exciting. 

      A couple tracks are not acapella and use instruments. These tracks are performed by Mona Rosenblum and orchestra and recorded in the 1970s. Moshe Mona Rosenblum is the Israeli composer that created Moshiach Moshiach Moshiach and countless other hits for Mordechai Ben David and others. His tracks on the album are live perfomances with a small band which, to me, sound like prototypes of what the modern hasidic pop sound developed into. For more info on The Hasidic Niggun as Sung by the Hasidim click here.

      The other CD in the series, The Western Sephardi Liturgical Tradition is just one guy, and therefore less exciting. His name is Abraham Lopes Cardozo and he single handedly sings all the tracks and thus preserves their  melodies. If your family is from the Jewish comunity of Portugal or Amsterdam, then you might recognize these. I wasn't, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the rich culture. For example, do you know how many different versions of Lecha Dodi there are? Thank goodness someone got the Portugese version. For more info on the CD click here.

      My live poetry slam last week went well. You can check it out here:

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