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

- [ Wednesday, December 15, 2004 ] -
 
Ok, I'll bite...
Dear Reader-of-the-Hasidic-Musician (shiny-shoe musician and proponent),

I'm not in Pey Daled, but I am in a crappy, Carlebachy, jam-band. It's clear that your judgment on these crappy, Carlebachy, jam-bands is biased from the start, so I can easily dismiss most of what you have to say against the genre. There is nothing wrong with the genre. There are good and bad bands that play every kind of music. Pey Daled is not one of the bad ones.

The problem isn't your clients. The problem isn't your competition, especially since you easily control the lion's share of the market. The problem is you. You need to find another profession if it bothers you to be unappreciated by your clients--especially the ones who don't find it necessary to hire you. You have a professional standard far above most of your market. They don't care to pay your large, "what takanot?" performance fees. No one cares about your years of training. No one cares about how often you practice. No one cares about your perfect pitch and ability to keep perfect time. Ninety-percent of the time, there are going to be old people yelling at the band with their hands over their ears, anyway. For some people, the wedding isn't about the music any more than it's about the flowers or the shmorg. Why should someone spend on more than they can appreciate on a band? No one owes you anything. You can be replaced by a juggler and puppet-show. No one cares about people taking away your business. That's how life works. Most people have to try really hard and hustle in order to make a decent living. You're not special.

And you know what? A lot of people prefer to hire a crappy, Carlebachy, jam-band with loads of spirit over an uptight, cheesy band that plays God-awful, horn arrangements. You complained about the lack of music education in frum schools because it leads to a greater chance of the chatan being "tricked." That seems unlikely. My guess is that the chatan actually preferred that style of music, something you can't provide because it's not printed out on lead sheets. The deplorable Jewish-music education that you complain of, actually seems to be more advantageous to the Shiny-Shoe industry. The frum community keeps out secular music, limiting knowledge and taste. It seems that the genre most available to the frum world is Shiny-Shoe.

There is no halacha mandating disco-beats at a wedding. Try to adapt and deal with the changing marketplace instead of putting down your clients and your competition.


Love, Velvel


Comments:
Good one.
 

I for one think that the band is the most important part of the wedding--it sets the tone for the overall spirit of the night.

And I must say that a tight, trained band is a lot more desirable than a bunch of guys looking for some extra cash who just happen to play various musical instruments.

I don't care how into the wedding you may be, a sloppy band will set you back a couple of notches.
 

To me, music is THE most important part of the wedding party. I couldn't give a crap about flowers, and I think the NY-style shmorgs are a huge distraction to the wedding (ie- the chatan's tisch and whatever the kallah thing is called).

But I'm not this guy's clientele, or the clientele he assumes he's entitled to.
 

Velvel,
I don’t have the energy to argue most of the points you make. There are a few things I would like to point out: In my letter I noted that Pey Dalid’s self description was a matter of opinion and I conceded that they have as much a right as I to any client that chooses spend money on them. Since you brought up “biases”, I think it’s only fair to note that you are biased in respect to the NY frum world. That you took my letter about general musical competence to rant about “clients” and ostentatious weddings while characterizing me as a “shiny shoe proponent” evidences this bias. I am I self described proponent of musicianship. You cannot “dismiss” anything I said because it was stated as matter of opinion, nothing more. You certainly can’t dismiss it by stating conclusory statements like “pey dalid is not bad.” Wow- you got me there. Furthermore, I don’t have any clients. I don’t control any share of the market. I am a part time musician and my “fee” you speak of is MUSICIAN’S SCALE.
- I find that people do care about my training and appreciate that I play very nicely.
- Do you imply that old people don’t tell Even Shsiyah or Pey Dalid to play more quietly? I know that they do b/c those guys are not pros and lack self control.
- As you admit, to many music IS the most important thing at the wedding
- I cannot be so easily replaced which is why I get calls from the very bands I mock who can't seem to find anyone else who can do the job.
- I never said PD wasn’t entitled to make a living- in fact I pride that I deal in an open market- all I did was point out the bottom of the barrel.
- The horn arrangements played at weddings are not written, they are organic and each group of guys tacitly decides which ones to play and when- they are not G-d awful.
- I have a lot of spirit. I love to play ‘out’ and jam which seasoned musicians who bring my level up. I don’t like to play off the sheet and after hundreds of weddings- there isn’t much I have to read anyway.
- “Disco Beats”?! The irony is that drummers in some of the bands I have in mind can't play freilich and substitute disco beats all night.
- AND I refuse to “adapt” to a marketplace that embraces sub-par musicianship which all I was really complaining about to begin with.
In concussion, part of the reason I took on this exercise was to note that while shiny shoe and all the legitimate parties lumped in with it, is fair game for ridicule on the blogosphere, there seems to be some kind of pact among bloggers and musicians not to pick on these grass roots guys who get way more attention than they’re due simply by virtue of their being rare. I don’t get it. If this product was put out in any other market…well it wouldn’t b/c unless you’re frum, there is no reason to listen to it- specifically musically. That is all for now- round 3?
 

You're biased, I'm biased. I don't care which music you think is better, it's subject that I've written about too much.

"I refuse to 'adapt' to a marketplace that embraces sub-par musicianship which all I was really complaining about to begin with"

If you refuse to adapt to an audience who favors different elements of music, whose spirit may outshine their chops, you will lose. Why don't you try to offer a product that is more palatable? Offer a better product, and they will pay. If you offer generic simcha music, same as everyone else, maybe it's not worth the money that you think it is. Worth isn't measured in skill, worth is measured by market.

Do you know why Pey Dalid can offer themselves as the "ultimate simcha band?" It's because they stand out. You don't. And you're replaceable by a "college guy" who will "do it for cheap."

Go whine about it to the Yahoo JM group, where someone might care.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JewishMusic
 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 

This truly is a fun conversation I think I'll
give my 5 cents in here:
Well here is the deal Velvel, I've been in wedding bands for over 11 Yrs and have played for a variety of orchestras. Some bands are certainly better than others and obviously music is something which is a very opinionated matter.
However I must take a stance on those horn-arrangements. Are you referring to the originally recorded ones or the ones the band plays? Very few play lead sheet horn arrangements they just wing it. Which is one thing that
differentiates an ok band from a great band who has horn players that understand improvisation. It sounds like you don't like any horns at all and prefer guitar which you play, so you are certainly biased. I however sing and I'm not biased to horn or guitar. I will say this as a singer: Carlebach however good is overated. Did he write songs from the heart? Certainly.... are all of his songs great? Some better than others? of course.
I think for a lot of people carlebach is all they know so they lean in that direction. shiney shoe has problems but it's not all bad. O.k. i'll stop now :)
 

I like horns, I just generally don't like the way they're used in wedding music, and even worse, in the wedding singers' slow songs.

The horns part of my rant was really secondary to my whole point. I can talk about cheesy keyboards if you like...
 

... and I'll take a trumpet over a saxophone any day. And I think trombones are probably ok. I want to play an accordian, but I'm afraid people won't like me.

There is no bad instrument. Just bad arrangers and bad orchestra-leaders. Every session player is perfect. A band can be good or bad.
 

Velvel:

There's no such thing as bad sax.

MoC
 

Bands like PD and Blue Fringe get asked to do weddings not so much because they are cheaper (although they may be--bands are more expensive than they used to be)or because there is a rejection of standard wedding fare, but because they are viewed as "celebrities." People want something different, and they relish the opportunity to have a bona fide celebrity do their wedding. And most non-musicians figure a band is a band, and if they can do a concert then they can handle everything else too,so why not hire them for the whole thing? You and I and anonymous know better.

I've played lots of weddings with lots of different types of bands, and I can tell you that most concert bands hate doing the shmorg and dance sets. They would love to come in and do a 45 minute set and leave the rest to the pros. But people don't want to pay for two bands, so the conflict arises.

There are a few who can excel at both--Gershon Veroba, Lenny Solomon come to mind--but most don't.
 

PT:

There is a big difference between Pey Dalid and Blue Fringe (or Moshav or SoulFarm).

People hire BF, Moshav and Soulfarm because they are celebrities (and they do those gigs for the extra dough even though, as you say, they probably have no interest in wedding gigs and would rather be doing their bar gigs). They are very tight bands albeit not wedding bands.

Pey Daled is in a different category altogether. They are not celebrities; for years they could barely get a paying gig, they have not yet even been able to produce a CD and they are so so far from tight it isn't funny. I think they get wedding gigs by having an aggressive new manager, being cheap and selling their mystical jive to people who don't know any better.

MoC
 

Well said MoC and PT,
why velvel persists in blind support of these guys is beyond me. He is blinded with hate of a Jewish Music world that he feels alienated by. In response to PT: I have played with Blue Fringe at several Bar/t Mitzvahs. They are great and I don't lump them in with Pey Dalid at all. They are perhaps the tightest act in JM. However, the last thing they want to be doing is a simcha gig. Once I was booked with my normal band and BF was hired to swoop in and provide some celebirty flash to an already flashy bat mitzvah. They were itching to get out of there, but played well nonetheless. These guys try not to cover carlebach so as not to be associated with the numerous terrible acts that end up opening for them. So there it is, straight from the horse's mouth.
 

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Anonymous,
I'm not so much in blind support of Pey Dalid, as I am against your smearing of the entire genre based on your experience with Pey Dalid. I got this from your original letter on BlogInDm which is what I'm responding to. Only in my comments, here, are you apppearing to be supportive of the new Jewish rock.

What I understood about your previous statements is that you despise the new Jewish-rock, with Pey Dalid as a perfect example. Now you are saying that you like new Jewish rock and Pey Dalid is the exception.

If you just hate shitty bands, that's not much of a complaint. Do you also hate paper cuts?
 

There are those that do it well, and there are those that do it poorly. As I said, for some reason, any guitar driven crap is given a free pass in the JM sub-culture. There is like a little pact amongst you guys never to bash what is obvioulsy terrible music. I made this point after reading a positive review of Seth Nadel's album on wecker.blogspot. I accused him of lacking journalistic integrity. The sense is that the JM sub-culture is so small, that we welcome any new member with open arms with no regard to how well they play or what they have to offer musically. Someone on BloginDm even said: "they're good blokes, good midos". I don't know what that has to do with anything- they suck. I find the middah of self indulgence repulsive. Perhaps then I should abandon this topic! Good Shabbos everyone!
 

I have to confess that I've never heard PD so I'm not in a position to comment on their quality. I was commenting on the issue of concert oriented bands vs wedding bands playing at simchas, and your experience, anonymous, coincides with mine on those issues.

But ouch, MoC, your description sounds a lot like my current band. I'd better not quit my day job.
 

That's why I'm not in a "concert oriented" band. You've proven that you don't really know enough about premier NYC bands or PD to comment inteligently so I don't know why you took on this losing fight from the outset.
 

Anonymous,

First of all, I think you've gotten PT mixed up with myself. But that's ok, the internet can be difficult for beginners.

That's the first valid point you've made (the one about Jewish guitar-rock being untouchable by the subculture).

The reason this happens is that no one from the mainstream will critique it from an open viewpoint. And the only ones in the subculture who talk about them are friends of the bands, or otherwise too close to critique in public.

Not being completely anonymous, I am certainly not in a position to criticize my contemporaries. I'm an artist before critic, and it's a pretty shitty artist who picks apart his peers in a public forum. I will write good about anyone, but I won't write something bad about a Jewish rock artist. I have to work with these people.

I have never seen Pey Dalid live, but I like the few live recordings that I've heard.

A wedding, of course, is a different beast than a concert. A concert band can easily sound shitty in the context of a wedding. But from the description of the Pey Dalid wedding from MOC, it sounds like most people there had a great time.

Your personal bitterness overshadowed your point.
 

I think there's more than one anonymous posting here. I'm getting confused too.
You shouldn't allow anonymous comments, Velvel. They're just putzes.
 

Will the anonymous ones please sign with a psuedonym? It would make insulting people and their families a lot easier.

I actually like not having comments, so I don't have to spend all day arguing. What a pain. I hope you ninnies appreciate what I'm doing for you.
 

Shavuah Tov,
No PT, it's just me- one Mr. Anonymous.
Mr. A
 

I hate to break it to you Velvel but the bottom line is there are great jewish wedding bands
are there are also majorly terrible ones.
I for the many years have played with the better
musicians in the business and haven't had to cringe on too many jobs. Guys like gershon are great and all but there are plenty of other musicians out there who from a musical standpoint can yipe the floor with those guys. There are certain bands which I won't mention who put aout a great product everytime the problem is if you heard them once you've heard them everytime.
They lack the creativity and spontenuity.
I for one love to improvise I hate singing songs the same wat everytime and I try to move things around. There is no doubt in my mind that if you have medocre musicians you will have a shlacky band unless there is something thrown into the mix. As for cheesy keyborads etc. I can talk about loud obnoxious guitar playing also. Bands where the louder you play the lead the better you must be. So idiotic! I play for a band where people come and ask to turn UP the volume.
No offense since I played with C-Lanzboum in the wedding circuit for probably 4 Yrs. but when I
hear that soulfarn was playing at a wedding everyone wearing sneakers it makes me cringe but that's just me. The band I play for is not uptight and cheesy-rather it's professional and classy with a lot of talent and dynamic. that's right we play carlebach here and there but we are by no means a carlebach band and you know what?
People like us and take notice. I'm not defending the frum community but I understand thier wanting to keep certain types of music out. With the lyrics and meaning behind a lot of the stuff out there it's hard to know where someone might head
next. Enjoy
 

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The loshon hora on this post is over. There are good bands and bad bands and nothing new needs to be said. If it does, you can say it on your own crappy blogs.
 

No one cares who you played with MusicYid.
 

Also, MusicYid, I don't know if you can follow... you've added nothing to the conversation. Your ramblings only vaguely relate to the conversation at hand. In addition, whatever does end up relating has already been said more clearly by other people.