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

- [ Friday, January 28, 2005 ] -
Matisyahu: The concert
Sklaro's impressions
Psycho Toddler's impressions
Cara's impressions

I think around 15 people made it on our venture from Chicago to Milwaukee to see Matisyahu. Turner Hall is a beautiful venue. It's an old building that has been around for about a hundred years and survived a couple fires. The sound blows. It's a crime to hold a rock show there (reggae - whatever). The sound in most of the room was very muddy and boomy.

I took a seat in front rows with my wife, but I just got antsy. I can't sit for these shows. I felt that if I stayed seated for too long, I might as well have spent my evening watching a music DVD. After a few songs, I adjourned myself to the men's separate dancing area where I could get my groove on. The volume didn't bother me and the sound was very clear in front. If you're unfortunately stuck with seeing a great band in a crappy ballroom, your best bet is to get something to plug your ears (or not) and get to within fifteen feet of the speakers. Plus, dancing is always better than sitting. Not that I always dance, but last night, the music moved me. It was funny watching the Chabad rabbis try to figure out how to dance to reggae. Eventually, their joy of music and motion led them to some kind of spastic combination of jumping up and down, hora, and hippie-noodle-dancing.

Matisyahu is definitely a presence. He is also authentic. Authentic reggae. Authentic Jewish. His singing and dancing is real reggae and real Jewish at the same time. He had a wicked niggun/beatbox song. The band jammed (at least two of the members are Jewish, to my knowledge). I'm a new fan of the guitarist, Aaron Dugan. He plays a lot of cool freak-out jams. It was a great show. I loved it and had a great time. It sounded great from where I stood/danced-like-an-idiot. I don't think there's too much more to say. There is a quote often attributed to Frank Zappa, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." The show was an experience.

I'm not sure about Matisyahu's bootleg policy, but seeing that he's into Phish, he's probably ok with it. I brought my MiniDisc recorder (I don't advise buying one, it's the Betamax of personal recording equipment) and taped the show. I'll make the bootlegs available to friends, but I want to ask Matis before I post it online somewhere. The quality is pretty good, probably better than some seats. I can understand most of the vocals, but it's still pretty boomy. There are a few glitches in the recording which just means I have to clean my MD recorder.

Oh yeah, we met up with Milwaukee's own Jewish rock veteran and blogger extraordinaire, Psycho Toddler, and I introduced him to blogger-buddy and real-life buddy, Sklaro. As with all blogger meetings, it felt really goofy talking to someone in person when you're used to communicating via smart-ass comments every few hours. We eventually were able to share our feelings about the show.

Later, I tried to talk to the musicians. I did, but I acted like such a fan. I was barely able to introduce myself without gushing about the performance, and their place in the Jewish music scene. I was too shy to tell them about how I can relate to them through my own Jewish rock bands or my blog or my fights on their behalf against the hateful ignorance on the Jewish Music group ("rapping on stage in the style of some of the low-life non jewish reggae singers[sic]" - courtesy of the moderator). I was hoping to start a conversation where these things would come out, but there were too many other fans and well-wishers. Maybe we can be internet buddies.

- [ Thursday, January 27, 2005 ] -
Thanks for a great weekend
I want to give hakarat hatov (positive acknowledgment) to all my close friends and family who helped my household have such an awesome Shabbat which eventually lead into a awesome Farbrengiton and Ra'ashan concert on Saturday night.

I'm still running high off the vibes from Shabbat.

I hope to move forward with strength. Thank you.

Matisyahu tonight

While visiting the internet's place for discussing Jewish music in a civil manner, I came across a nice frum Yid who once said this of his performance at the HASC benefit concert:
Matisyahu is Jewish? PLEEASE.....

Matisyahu should have been dragged off stage for his stupidity.

Are we suppsoed to be impressed that he sings like a goy? It would have been funny if Matisyahu sang one song, everyone would have laughed at the freak who left his shoes upstairs at the Knick game. It would have been tolerated to some extent but what the Heck was Sheya thinking when hired this drugged up lubabitch guy? Matisyahu was lucky I could not get out of my seat because I would have went on stage and pulled this nut with his 3 back up nuts of the stage and they would have landed on seventh Avenue.
This is about the worst comment I've seen, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who agreed with him. Introducing closed communities to new things can be very dangerous if you're not careful. If you like, you can e-mail the turd and let him know your opinion.


I've been falling in love with his CD, "Shake Off the Dust...Arise," with every listen. The music has a great groove. The words are clear and very inspiring. This it truly a holy CD.

I don't know why every other city gets to host a concert, but tonight I will be heading out with a bunch of my friends to see Matisyahu in Milwaukee. We can't wait.

It's a crime that the Moshe Skier Band isn't the local opener. We're all hoping that Lil' Rev, " Voted Best Folk Singer in Wisconsin WAMI 2004," is as good as the WAMI claims. Seemingly inappropriate bookings makes me think personal favors are involved. But at least we have a buffer driving in from Chicago.

- [ Tuesday, January 25, 2005 ] -
Happy New Year (trees, only)

- [ Monday, January 24, 2005 ] -
What does this ad say about a shul?
This ad, found in a bulletin of my former shul, makes me question its commitment to Orthodoxy.
[...] Event: "My God" with Jennifer Bleyer, editor of Heeb Magazine [...date and time...]

"You may prefer sushi to kugel, and hip hop to klezmer, and a nice Friday night movie to a nice Friday night Shabbos (sometimes.) Never fear, you are not alone! Come hear Jennifer Bleyer, the founder of Heeb Magazine, talk about what it means to be a hip, smart, funny, political, 21st Century kind of Jew; how Heeb got started and became one of the most original expressions of Jewish identity in the country; what else is happening in new Jewish culture; and what it all means. [...]
The magazine disgusts me, and the shul's participation in this event saddens me. I wonder how eager the shul would be to display the magazine on the "free-speech" table.

- [ Sunday, January 16, 2005 ] -
Goodbye Animus and thanks for the music

Animus, we will miss you. You've provided Chicago with some excellent metal for several years.

Here is a picture of some blurry mosh-pitting taken at the last Animus show, last Sunday night:

Animus saying their goodbyes as a band (left to right):Brian Hertel, Mark Sugar, Jon Sharwarko, Aryeh Goldsmith.

- [ Wednesday, January 05, 2005 ] -
The Mural

I'm very lucky because my wife let me paint a picture on the wall in our kitchen. For some reason, painting pictures on walls is so much better than painting on paper.

Killing two birds with one stone, this image will also be featured prominently on the packaging of the newest ev├źn sh'siyah album, going through the final stages of the mastering process at this time.

I know what you're saying, how can you have an image of the sun? Isn't that prohibited by our laws against idol-worship? I'm glad you asked. This question was brought up by a member of the band after I completed the mural and album cover. Naturally, with any halachic question concerning Jewish music, marketing and halacha, I turned to the most knowledgeable and open-minded Yahoo Group (where I am most revered and respected for my Jewish music prowess) and posted it there. The best answer actually came from our band Rabbi, and he took the image to a prominent posek on the Chicago Rabbinical Council. (Disclaimer: the Rabbi is only a posek for his congregation. The CRC posek hasn't been asked if this ruling can go public in his name.) Here is the un-official statement:
There is a prohibition in Hilchos Avodah Zarah in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 141, against depicting images of avodah zarah. The prohibited images include the sun, the moon and the stars. Among the elements of the prohibition is that the depiction be an accurate one. In fact, there is a t'shuva in Igros Moshe in which someone asked R' Moshe whether young children should draw pictures of the sun in school. He said that their representations of the sun would be permissible since they are not going to be accurate. He added, however, that as children mature and develop their artistic capabilities, there could be a real problem (and so, he queries, why even get them started?). In our case, I believe there are at least two factors that render the cover art permissible: (1) the depiction is not an accurate one, but representational; and (2) less than the entire sun is depicted. Either of those factors is sufficient to permit.
It's a good thing I've never developed my artistic capabilities.