I am a Yid. I like to rock. Veitur!

- [ Friday, February 27, 2004 ] -
Sarcastic sites
My wife wanted to know why I was linking to anti-Jewish sites so I just wanted to post a clarification. Two of the blogs I regularly read, Allah Is In The House and The Politburo Diktat are sarcastic. It took me a while to figure that out, too. They are both Zionist infidels themselves in the best sense of the word, and I'm sure neither would be allowed to obtain visas to visit Saudi Arabia, if you know what I mean. (courtesy of Jew School)

Welcome Crims0n R00m S0luti0n Seekers
There has been quite a run the last couple days to this blog. First of all, I would like to thank the Hassidic Musician for the kind quote and link. I have seen on the ol' sitemeter that there has been an increase in traffic, especially from his blog.

At the same time, there has been a huge (relative to this blog's normal traffic) number of people who have found this place through their search for "crims0n r00m s0lution." I welcome those Googlers and commend them on their effort to cheat at the game so they can get back to their real lives.

Note: I have altered the spelling of "Crims0n Room" to prevent people from coming to this post who are just looking for the solution. Instalanches are cool.

- [ Tuesday, February 24, 2004 ] -
My Cholent
My cholent brings all the boys to the shul,
and they're like,
its hotter than yours,
damn right it's hotter than yours,
I can feed you,
but I have to charge.

I know you want it,
the beans and kishke,
what the guys sing z'miros for.
They lose their voice,
the way I spice,
I think it's nice.

I beat The Man!
I got my check for $13.86 yesterday. Someone launched a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all of us that bought any music between 1995 and 2000. I have been intentionally overcharged hundreds of dollars for CDs I have purchased in that time. It's difficult for me to follow all the legalese, but it appears that every single large chain, publisher and distributor (henceforth referred to as "The Man") was involved in price fixing CDs. Remember when CDs first came out and they were supposed to drop in price below that of tapes? They're cheaper to make. It's not unreasonable. The price shot up to over $15 and stayed there. The Man even hiked up the price to almost $20.

So CDs still cost close to $20. And the check they sent me won't even pay for one CD.
Ah, but wait! Doesn't it say in the title that "I beat The Man ?"

I still have my P2P.

- [ Monday, February 23, 2004 ] -
My Afro-Semitic experience
We all have a certain responsibility, given any audience, to educate them and make the world a better place. That's a given. But how we go about it, and where we draw the line between educating and turning people off. Moral obligation versus unfair treatment of a captive audience.

On January 17th, 2004, I attended a nice jazz concert, The Afro-Semitic Experience, put on by my good friends at Kfar.

To introduce a song, the bassist, David Chevan, first mentioned how all the proceeds from one of the albums goes to Magen David Adom. He talked about political walls throughout the Torah and history. He contrasted it with all the love stories in the Torah that started around wells. Two of the guys from the band went around the room and passed out buttons that said, "WELLS NOT WALLS." He didn't mention anything about the security fence in Israel specifically, but the more I thought about it, the more obvious it was. Within a few minutes into the song, I got myself too worked up to enjoy the show and had to leave.

The venue was at Anshe Emet, a prominent Conservative shul in the neighborhood. Although degrees of Orthodoxy shouldn't necessarily be related to one's politics, I find that they usually are. To give you an idea about the Orthodoxy of the room, the only kippot I saw there were worn by women (in addition to the Bucharian-style kippot which were worn by the band). The show was billed as a "diversity" event in honor of the late, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I realize that I was probably the biggest right-winger in the room. But I saw no indication beforehand that I would be politically blindsided like that.

Here is the letter I wrote to David on the following Monday. I am still waiting for a response.

I attended your Afro-Semetic concert on Saturday night (1/17/04) at Anshe Emet in Chicago. It was a very nice concert, and I enjoyed the music very much.

I was very put-off by your political statement in the middle of the show. I have two oppositions to what you did. One is with the message itself, and the othe is an unfair use of the musical stage as a surprise political forum.

You spoke out against the protective FENCE to keep out bus-bombers and snipers. While you didn't mention this fence by name, it was implied by passing out buttons against "walls." It was a nice artistic idea. The problem is that you are equating the Romans and Nazis and their mission with Jews and their mission. The Jews want to have pizza and take the bus. Since the fence was erected, the amount of people blowing themselves up on the Israeli streets has been reduced to almost zero.

[This link has been updated since the letter was initially sent:]
MORE THAN 97% of the planned 720 km. (480 mile) security fence will consist of a chain-link fence system. LESS THAN 3% of the fence will be constructed of concrete. The short concrete sections are intended not only to stop terrorists from infiltrating, but also to block them from shooting at Israeli vehicles traveling on main highways.
But there is as much of a chance of me convincing you to agree with my political viewpoint as there is of you convincing me to agree with yours.

There is a moral responsibility for all artists with a significant audience to do good. The Beastie Boys have their "Free Tibet" cause. Bono has his "world debt relief." It is known what their political beliefs are. Whoever goes to their concerts can expect to get an earful. Often they will tour with concerts explicitly for that.

I feel I was unfairly assaulted with your viewpoint. You had a captive audience. We all paid to get in to hear some music. You offered a political viewpoint, with no forum for the opposing view. Unfair.

The more I stayed in the audience, the more upset I got. I was so distracted by your statements that I had to get up and leave. I'm sure you believe that your political pins are a message of peace. In my view they are not. In my view, there has been more peace since the fence was erected. I'm sure I was the minority in this particular crowd, but I still advise you to be more careful with the image you choose to push on your audience.


Farbrengiton's New Logo
I've just developed a new logo for Farbrengiton.

Crims0n R00m s0luti0n
There is a stupid online game going around called, the Crims0n R00m.
Dave Barry posted it.
Cara posted it.

For productivity reasons, I am providing a link to the solution here.

- [ Friday, February 20, 2004 ] -
Kites are bad news...
If kites are outlawed, only outlaws will have kites.

Mazal Tov, Yosef!
I wish Farbrengiton's own Yosef Nathan a mazal tov on his engagement yesterday to Tova Cohn. May you two start a rockin' family in the tribe of Israel!

- [ Tuesday, February 17, 2004 ] -
Shwekey, Shwekey, Shwekey...
To find the right font, I had to read the name so many times--it lost all meaning to me!
Try seeing how many times you can read the word, "Shwekey."

Here is the final version

And now...a public service announcement to all Jewish musicians: If you're going to insist on wearing a modest, yet shtark black suit and velvet kippah, please don't take your publicity photos with a black background. It's very hard to cut out around you.

- [ Friday, February 13, 2004 ] -
The pride of Jewish music, Chicago: update
As you recall, there were two MB shows this past weekend in Chicago. I attended the second one, the benefit show, which was on Sunday night. There was a show on Saturday night, too. The final attendance tally for the MB show this past Saturday night just came in. Thirty! Kfar, after showing interest in putting on a real show at a real venue for hundreds of people who are interested in seeing a real Jewish rock band perform, was told to shove it because the organization wanted an activity for all the high school kids, NCSY and BA. There should have been 200 kids there. The organization highjacked a great band with a potential to excite hundreds of teenagers and completely blew their opportunity to reach anybody.

Hashem works in mysterious ways. Through the mistakes of the organization, Farbrengiton had its amazingly adequate debut, the Moshe Skier Band played a great set in front of a crowd almost twice as big. And a Kfar representative was able to attend this show which in turn will lead to a bigger booking for the MSB.

Jewish Music Advertising
It is the norm in the Jewish-pop (or "Hassidisco") industry to overhype albums and performances and generally misrepresent themselves in a way that's so absurd it's comical.

I signed on for the duty of preparing a poster for a full-scale Jewish music fundraiser. My buddy, the rockin' Moroccan, recommended me for the job, and I gladly accepted it without thinking twice.

This is the first time I have ever done a poster for this style of music. The real problem I have, is that I can't compare this poster to anything. I can't recall ever seeing a tasteful poster for Jewish-pop. For some reason, the production standards for Jewish publications are far below that of the general population. Some examples are, too many clashing fonts on one page, cheesy picture-frame borders, or pictures blown up far beyond their resolution (so you can see the little square, jagged things called pixels). And an overall cheesy quality that can be more difficult to qualify.

I stayed up extra late (I also started extra late) last night to work on this first draft (bandwidth warning: big jpeg file is 426.14 Kb). I'm sure the organizers were planning on telling me the correct spelling for their star's name eventually. I can fix the final draft after my five bosses get back to me.

- [ Wednesday, February 11, 2004 ] -
Tape delay?
What's the big deal with the 5 minute tape delay for the Oscars? People are getting crazy, talking about censorship and a slippery slope to censorship of ideas rather than words. WTF? You can't say "fuck" anywhere else on TV. You can't make up stories about Ronald Reagan. This is not new.

The networks mangle movies, the actual art from the Academy, and they say nothing. There needs to be a five minute delay because Hollywood people have proved themselves flaky and unable to abide by rules for live TV that have been in place since the 60s. If they want it live without "censorship," they can do it on pay-per-view.

- [ Tuesday, February 10, 2004 ] -
I talked to the Singing Sensation! and Adam and Ra'ashan is almost for sure "on" for opening for Rabbinical School Dropouts at the HotHouse for Shushan Purim (Sunday night). Purim proper (Saturday night) is also huge. I am playing with Ra'ashan, which is opening for ev├źn sh'siyah at the Evanston Chabad House. So that is a big weekend that I'm pyched for. I love playing the Chabad House. I love Ra'ashan. I love E"S. I love the RSD. And I love playing the HotHouse.

And let's not forget, on Purim, my wife will drive my friends and I around in a rented van to go se'udah hopping. You know I'm psyched for Purim. (We'll miss you Yaakov!)

Three gigs on Purim, not bad.

The key phrase for this Purim will be "pace yourself."

Drink the liquor, you'll get shikur. I'll do it quicker!

- [ Monday, February 09, 2004 ] -
About Sunday Night...
I'd like to thank the Moshav Band for coming to Chicago and enduring the world of Jewish benefit playing. I hope they come back soon and play a real show here.

First, I'll say the nice things.
The room looked and sounded great. The KINS social hall is normally an ugly room with bad lighting and bad sound. I have never seen the stage dressed up like I did last night. The dessert chocolates were homemade and really fancy. The whole dessert with fancy coffees and drinks really made up for the $36 ticket price at the door.

The Moshav Band played a great set that was much longer than the proprietors might have wanted.

Most people that weren't interested in hearing the band left relatively early in the event.

Here is what pissed me off.
In Chicago, there was no market for good Jewish music. (To find out what good music is, look to the links on the right.) There was no venue for putting on Jewish music for music-appreciation's sake. Now there is. Kfar Jewish Arts Center looks for good Jewish music, brings in bands from out of town, fosters local talent and promotes and produces shows that are accessible to everyone. Initially, the organization that brought in the Moshav Band was working with Kfar to bring in an artist together. To make a long story short and avoid incriminating details, Kfar was booted from the team and the Moshav Band got to perform in front of a dessert buffet competing with the noise of margarita blenders, cappucino machines, popcorn makers and 300 shmoozers clamoring to get in line for their portion.

Fiddle players who book bands should know their place on stage. They shouldn't fuss about solos. They shouldn't try to grab the mic from the singer. If they are "invited" on the stage for one song, they shouldn't assume that they are now part of the band much less the new band leader. They also shouldn't have to be unplugged to know when it's time to stop playing.

After everything, the show turned out better than I thought it would. I'm also glad the Moshav Band ended up being booked for a teenage show on Saturday night, allowing me to have the pleasure of having our first Farbrengiton performance, as well as enjoying a stellar Moshe Skier Band show.

Support your local bands and tip your wait-staff!


About Saturday Night...
The Farbrengiton show on Saturday night went very well. Of course, we need improvement. This was our first show and it was overwhelmingly agreed that we "pulled it off." We rocked a little bit, too. And different people were impressed with different parts. We also got some excellent constructive criticism. Hopefully there will be a day where everyone will sing the "ay ay yai" part with us. I will try to pick out the good parts and post them on the Farbrengiton site with pictures (Thanks to Photography by Fred P. Eckhouse).

Now, onto Moshe Skier. That band really rocked. I wasn't bitter in the least that I wasn't at the mis-advertised, "Moshv Band [sic]" show in Skokie for teens. I was kinda hoping to get an advertised "free mp3 player."

Moshe Skier came into the shul in time to hear us finish up our version of the Altar Rebbe's "Aveenu Malkeinu." I hope he thought it was cool.

His band was: Moshe on acoustic guitar or bass, Mendel Appel on lead guitar and Dan Lawitts on drums. Moshe and Mendel both did vocals. They were very tight. Mendel was fluid on the lead guitar and made it scream when he needed to. They made the whole show look effortless. I also appreciate Moshe taking my audience suggestions (I only spoke when he asked) to play "Minyan Man" and to play song in the hard rock style instead of acoustic. The highlight for me was when they played a Lubavitch "Tzama." Not the "Hey Johnny" one, but the slow one with the "aydaidais." They did it over a blues jam, the kind of thing which I usually hate. But this time it had the right kind of soul that made it work. Yasher koach, guys. It was beautiful. Thanks for coming down.

Bottom line: Very few people attended the show. Don't miss the Moshe Skier Band next time they come to town. They are a great, live act.

Also: There was a band who set-up in the corner and accompanied the Moshe Skier Band. Maybe they should get louder speakers next time so the people who moved away from them can still hear the Casio-team from their new seats across the room.

- [ Friday, February 06, 2004 ] -
Also Playing on Feb 7
There are quite a few musical things going on that night.

My good buddy, Heyden, is leading a T"u BiShvat night of song at my favorite "Orthodox" shul in Lakeview at 9:00pm.

The Moshav Band is making a rare Chicago appearance. They are playing an unadvertised, private event for high-schoolers. I wish it could be different, but I'll get into the local politics that bug me another time.

Last, and definitely not least, the Moshe Skier Band is driving in from Milwaukee on Saturday night to make his Chicago debut with his band (right after mine gets off the stage) at the YIWRPMMM. Moshe Skier is a veteran Jewish rocker with unbelievable chops. I'm pretty psyched to see him.

mmmm....bourbon. Thanks, Cara.

Farbrengiton's First Performance Ever
Farbrengiton is playing on Feb 7, 8:00 pm at the Young Israel of West Rogers Park Monthly Melave Malka (henceforth to be referred to as YIWRPMMM)

I didn't want to use this blog for self-promotion. Primarily, anyway. But I am too excited about this. Besides, I didn't really advertise this blog. Advertising to my wife doesn't count. And this will be a good record for posterity. I will announce other people's gigs that excite me, as well.

This gig is really exciting for me because it was booked a couple months ago, before the band existed. I've been really inspired lately to write and perform Jewish music. I was just getting into Ra'ashan. We had a great performance at the HotHouse, and then the Sephardi Party had to move away to New Yuck. Gam zu letovah, as they say. I started a new band with a slightly different flavor and we're carrying on.

So far, we've practiced almost every night for the past two weeks. And I must say, we are vey impressed with ourselves. We'll see how the performance turns out.

- [ Thursday, February 05, 2004 ] -
My Animal Personality
My real-life name means "wolf" in Hebrew. That makes the following really mind-blowing.
I took the "Animal Personality Test" and got this:

Steve Saccone can kiss my ass.
The recordings are old, but the messages still feel fresh. Here is a transcription of two great voice-mails left for me by my old landlord after a normal Friday night farbrengen at Anshe Oakley/Electric Oakleyland.
Home - 7/20/2002 9:30 am
Uh Zev, this is Steve Saccone. It's 9:30 mMon..uh..Saturday morning. Ya had a chanting, uh some kind of Jewish chanting party over there last night...uh from past midnight. Um, I can guarantee you, do it again Zev, have your...have your Jewish friends over, and do your...do your fucked up chant and I'm going to have you arrested. Alright? Because the police are gonna be there next time, Zev.
*audio link 1*
*audio link 2*
*audio link 3*

Work - 7/20/2002 same time.
Yeah Zev, I left you a message at home, this one's at work. Steve Saccone, regarding your... uh... chanting parties that you're having in the apartment over there? Have another one because I'm gonna have the paddywagon over there and I'm gonna have you guys arrested. I had the neighbor on my machine last night at midnight with the noise that was go... comin' out of your apartment. So why don't you have another one of your parties, we're going to have you all arrested over there. Okay? And then one of your people that was in your party threw up over the side of the porch onto their property, too. So that, that's really nice, Zev. Why don't you give me a call, so I can talk with you, okay? [773]685-6060.
As an additional note, I was the one that threw up. And for the record, I came right back inside to continue singing and pounding the table.

What to post... what to post...
This seems like a frozen moment in time. Maybe this blog will be used for good, maybe evil. This is the starting point that I made the decision to go forward and write. We'll see if I can stay out of trouble.

Who is the audience? Is it just friends? Internet searchers? Will my parents or in-laws see this? What about co-workers?

It's too early to forsee any ramifications, but I am consciously aware that this is the point where I could avoid all the personal, real-life problems that can be associated with this blog.