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

- [ Wednesday, April 27, 2005 ] -
Omer RSS feed
Sign up for my Omer feed! It's experimental still. It will remind you to count the Omer from your Bloglines or whatever feed-reader you use. The interface is new to me, but I also believe you can use this to add the dates directly to your PDA or calendar program. The RSS is automatically fed daily.
Omer RSS feed
Add the Omer feed directly to your Bloglines
I find that when I have a daily reminder on my electronic devices, I can usually finish the entire 49 days without missing the bracha.

Related link: Wikipedia entry for "Counting the Omer"

- [ Monday, April 25, 2005 ] -
Holiday Flash Links
Here are four holiday cartoons which have been going around.
  1. Trying to jump onto the viral advertising bandwagon, this horrible cartoon, with a super-lame parody of "Who Let the Dogs Out?" has been passed around as entertainment in order to sell a book. If this is an example of the humor I can expect, I couldn't be further from buying the book.
  2. This is very cool. The 60 Second Seder.
  3. This is very funny. My mother scooped me on this one when she saw this on Leno and told me I had to see it. Not the best endorsement for funny or hip, but it's JibJab so I figured it was worth a click. "I found the Afikomen--in my small intestine"
  4. I almost forgot - Shabot6000 weighed in with its own Pesach rap. Not as good as the JibJab. The lyrics just aren't that clever. Maybe you have to be a Fiddycent fan to "get" it. I wouldn't know.
Chag Kasher v'Sameach!!

I got Boing-Boinged
I'd like to welcome all the visitors from Boing Boing (a great website for the latest wacky links and geeky-web issues). Recently they have been posting various wacky voice-mails. I submitted my own, and *POW*:

- [ Tuesday, April 19, 2005 ] -
Shoe is on the wrong foot
I was pointed towards an article in which one of my bands is mentioned. I like the author of the article. I think he's a great guy. I know him from around. I also think a lot of his reviews have a light touch. He's very kind to many bands that in my opinion don't really deserve 100% of his praise. But part of me believes that he really digs all these Jewish bands that much. So I'll let him compliment all the modern Jewish bands, mediocre or brilliant. Anyway, his job isn't to rant, but to recommend some nice Jewish CDs to the nice Jewish folks that read from the nice Jewish press. All is Jewish and all is nice.

The article is in the JUF News and it strikes me as completely bizarre. This part is a review for the Blue Fringe album, "My Awakening" (which I love, but that's besides the point).
The kippah-sporting quartet Blue Fringe is one of the finest of the new crop of young Jewish rock acts, including Rick Recht, the Moshav Band, Yom Hadash, e18hteen, and Chicago’s own Farbrengiton.[emphasis added by Velvel]
This sentence is taking a known in order to give you perspective of the unknown. This sentence is assuming the reader has heard of Farbrengiton and hasn't heard of Blue Fringe.

I'm not sure if this article is only a local thing, or if it's syndicated all over the world.

If it's mostly the non-Chicago people who might read this review, Blue Fringe, having toured the world and played almost constantly for a few years, has much more exposure than Farbrengiton, who is mostly famous for being mentioned on my blog.

If Chicago people are more likely to read this, we can grab a pretty good estimate by counting. It's my guess that the number of people in Chicago who are familiar with Farbrengiton numbers about 100 to 150. At a sold-out Blue Fringe show here, there was an audience of about 800-1100 (I forget the venue's capacity. Their website is keeping it a secret).

My math and guesstimates might be way off. It's possible that there could be even a handful of these people who are familiar with Farbrengiton and would love to learn more about Blue Fringe. I'm grateful to have the band name mentioned as the "kal" of a kal vachomer. I'm humbled to think that even in only one person's head, Farbrengiton is a reference unit by which to measure the amazingly talented and professional band of Blue Fringe.

As far as the other bands I'm lumped in with, I love one of them and don't care for the other three, so I can't take 100% as a compliment either.

I think the mention is really cool and I should really shut up if I want more people to write about my bands. Welcome to my insanity.

- [ Monday, April 18, 2005 ] -
HaDag Nachash - great show

Photo by Becky

HaDag Nachash is a great live band. I saw them last night at House of Blues. Fantastic venue. Fantastic show. I didn't know what kind of show it would be, only that they were kind of a party sounding hip-hop band. They performed much better than I expected. A more than welcome reward for a full day of Pesach cleaning.

They have a really tight band. DJ, keyboards, sax, trombone, drums, guitar, bass and MC. The DJ, and sax player also took lead roles in the vocals. The sound was very thick. The horn section was great. Very funky.

I have no idea how they got so many people to that show. There must have been some kinds of youth groups involved or something, as there were a ton of 18-year-olds.

My wife and I got in with Foundation Room passes. The Foundation Room is a exclusive club built into the House of Blues. By exclusive, I mean people pay a lot of money for membership, dress nicely, and they get in through a separate entrance without a colon inspection from security. Also, a lot of companies have corporate memberships in order to woo clients. We were fortunate enough to get complimentary passes to the show and the club through my wife's employer who is doing business right now with HOB.

Last time we went to Foundation Room, we were with a group of friends, lead by a friend who regularly used his company's corporate membership to woo clients. He got us a private room and amazing service. The whole evening we really felt like VIPs. We barely saw the band that night, Jazz Mandolin Project. But when we did, we saw them from the VIP boxes, drunk on expensive booze. Of course, at the end of the evening, we all had to chip in (probably an entire month of our entertainment budget) and tip up the wazoo in order to ensure that our friend would continue to have impeccable service on his next visit. Such is life. This is one of those places where money directly translates into service. My friends and I are far from living this lifestyle, but it's a terrific place to visit when you have a way in.

As my wife and I entered FR before the show, the scene caught us a little off-guard. It was a little more "urban" than we remembered it--for a club north of Madison Avenue and especially on a night featuring an Israeli band. We were the only white people in the room aside from the wait staff. Noting it as an oddity, we walked around to the balcony to view the stage in anticipation of the show.

The lights went down. The curtain went up. Some dudes started swearing at the audience jumping around the stage. It turns out there was an opening act, Qualo (I like to call them Quablow because they weren't any good. Tee hee hee).

The crowd of white, suburban, Jewish and Israeli kids weren't really digging it. They seemed confused by the instructions to "bounce." It turned out that the crowd in FR were all there for the opener. I thought it was nice that Qualo got all their buddies FR passes, but it would seem that the buddies should have been downstairs, in front of the stage when their band went on. The twenty or so fans that couldn't pry themselves out of the uber-chill FR would have done wonders for their friends on stage if they were somewhere in proximity. After the first song, the Qualo crowd eventually found their way to the balconies but never ventured downstairs to the main floor.

After deciding the opener wasn't for us, my wife and I took advantage of our passes and hung out on the couches in FR. It's really chilled out there. In fact, the satellite radio channel that FR plays for ambiance is called, "Chill." We didn't get the royal treatment like last time, nor did we get the party atmosphere by having access to bring all our friends up there. We did enjoy ourselves and each other's company--almost like a date!

The real show started and we went down to the floor. The best place to see any music will always be on the floor, in front. We weren't in front, but we found good spots to stand close to some friends, with a clear view and great sound.

The crowd was super-receptive and Hadag Nachash even commented how they aren't even this well received in their hometown, Jerusalem. I don't know if they said the same thing in every city, but they just seemed so earnest that I believed them.

The audience may not have understood "bounce" but they did understand "zuz" ("move" in Hebrew). The crowd was jumping with their hands in the air, and there was even one body-surfer.

Great night.

Back to Pesach cleaning.

- [ Saturday, April 16, 2005 ] -
Why, God, why?

- [ Monday, April 11, 2005 ] -
Geek Dream Moment
Image hosted by Photobucket.com As someone who lives with Attention Deficit Something, I like corn Disorder, I'm constantly battling for my attention. TV is a major attention span killer, with all the flashing pictures, bikinis and people trying to persuade you to buy things. My peripheral vision is too good most of the time. I'm always aware when there's a TV on and have problems focusing on my conversations.

I bought a gadget, called TV-B-Gone. It's basically a universal remote control that only has a power button. Its purpose is to turn off TVs that are on in a public space. I have it on my key-chain.

Growing up socially inept, with a fondness for gadgets, I would fantasize about different ways for a gadget to make me popular. I would have an image in my head of how cool it's going to be when I use it, and how all the people in the room will pay attention to me and think I'm awesome and clever (isn't that the reason I have a blog?).

On the Sunday after Purim (Purim Meshulash, this year) I had a get together with my family at my parents. We were mostly eating at the dining room table, but nieces and nephews were running around and a certain controlled chaos permeated the room. A family member at this time decided that he needed to watch part of an NCAA basketball game. Then he disappeared and left the TV on. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who noticed, though it was clearly visible and audible to everyone sitting at the table.

I looked around, and I saw that no one even knew the TV was on and no one would miss it if it was off. I had the device in my pocket. I took out the device, aimed it at the TV, turned it off and put it back in my pocket like it was the most normal thing to do.

Then everybody stopped their conversations and looked at me with wonder and awe. They thought I was cool and clever and I felt like Batman with his utility belt. They asked how I did it, what it was, if I always carried it around, how did it work and that kind of stuff.

I was awesome for about three minutes. That was a big highlight of my Purim weekend.

- [ Friday, April 08, 2005 ] -
Can't find your guitar player?
"In this day and age, nothing is more important than protecting your most valuable assets. But that's not always easy. Especially when your most valuable asset is a dumbass."

(link courtesy of Ruby Harris)

- [ Thursday, April 07, 2005 ] -
Purim, part 4: Hard Rockin Hamentashen
Purim Meshulash (Saturday Night, March 26):

The spirit of Purim and Shabbat was carried through to a great party. Kfar put together a great concert called Hard Rockin' Hamentashen. I was planning to attend anyway, because I needed to take advantage of this opportunity to hear the headliner, The Moshe Skier Band, in a bar, where his rock was meant to be heard. I also had been intending for some time, to get out and see the opener, local reggae/funk artists, The Ari Ben Moses Band.

Imagine my joy when I found out I would be opening the show with my associate band, Heedoosh. No, we weren't getting paid, but get this--I saved $15 x 2 for cover, they gave me two drink tickets for beer, free soft-drinks all night (a Diet Coke for m'lady) and on top of that, my good buddy, the promoter, bought me an additional beer. On such a long night, I didn't go thirsty.

Heedoosh started a few years ago, largely as a writing project between two brothers, Yahav and Yaniv Tsaidi. They've been living in Chicago during my musically formative years, and we all rocked out a lot together. Yaniv moved away to New York and, with Yahav, began recording their collaborated material. They put together a live band in New York (amazing musicians, I've played with most of them) fronted by Yaniv.

Yaniv visits Chicago often, and when he does, he's usually able to get some kind of live show put together. He has his usual musicians that he plays with, both from his simcha band, Shalheves Orchestras, and from our rock band, Ra'ashan. From these bands, he was able to put together a group of guys that knows his style. Most of us have even played the Heedoosh material before. We prepared enough to pull together a great set. People really enjoyed it, and we got our photo in the Chicago Tribune (the article was nice and fluffy, but contained so many non-truths that I wonder if the author was even present).

Ari Ben Moses Band
These guys were pretty cool, but I was mostly in the green room and socializing with all my friends. It was a completely different vibe than Heedoosh and MSB, but it was very welcome.

Moshe Skier Band
The evening was running late by the time they got on. Switching bands took a little long. A portion of the crowd left, as Jews typically aren't the most adept at staying out late in a bar. MSB rocked till 2 AM, and the 30-40 remaining souls were shouting for more. I don't know if it was the alcohol, but it seemed like their set just got better and better every song. Yasher kochachem! Thanks for coming out and we can't wait to have you back in Chicago.

And a great yasher koach to Adam Davis and Kfar for the great work he does making these great shows available to Chicago.

More commentary about the event by:
Milwaukee Jew-Rocker, Psycho Toddler
Secret Chicago blogger, Dilbert of House of Hock

- [ Wednesday, April 06, 2005 ] -
Purim, the aftermath: Part 2
Farbrengiton became aware of an open call for a JDub compilation in the works, only a couple weeks before Purim. In the midst of our preparation for our gigs, we scrounged our time and resources together to record a Demo song. Time will tell if they are hip to our message.

Here is "I am a Jew," as performed by Farbrengiton, recorded by Mark Sugar.

Purim, the aftermath: Part 1
I regret to inform the Farbrengiton audience, that lead vocalist, Shneur Nathan has amicably split from the group. Apparently, law school takes up a lot of time. We wish him the best.

Which leads us to the question...
Anybody know a Jewish male who can belt 'em out and commit to going veitur with Farbrengiton?

See our current Craigs List ad.

Purim, part 3: Shabbat
Shushan Purim (Friday-Saturday, March 25-6):

What day is it?

Oh yeah. Shabbat was restful and full of ruach. A bunch of friends came in from out of town and we had the Friday night and Shabbat day meals with approximately 30 people in attendance of each.

Purim, part 2: Veitur Bus tour
Purim (Thursday-Friday, March 24-25):
Farbrengiton also did a mini-tour of the neighborhood house parties on the "Veitur Bus" on Thursday night after the set and on Friday around noon. This was very successful as we raised a lot of money for Kfar, and we sold a lot of shotglasses. I mean, if you can't sell shotglasses on Purim, I'm not sure you should be in the shotglass-selling business. It's good to have some pocket-change to pay for our recording. We had a crazy time and a bunch of people saw things they never imagined. I would write more, but as we say, whatever happens on the Veitur Bus, stays on the Veitur Bus.

Purim, part 1: Chabad House Party
I don't have time to put all the best details down. Maybe they'll come out at another time. Being two weeks after the action, everything I can write quickly is either loshon hora or boring.

Purim Night (Thursday, March 24):
The crowd was pretty thin due to the timing of Spring Break at Northwestern, the second month of Adar and Purim falling out on Friday. The crowd eventually got ripe, but it took longer than usual.
  1. Farbrengiton - We played a great set. Everyone was on his good game. We were confident and comfortable. We had a great time. The crowd was sparse at that hour, but everyone who was in the room was really digging us.
  2. Ra'ashan - We played with our original power trio, Yaniv, Matt and I. The crowd didn't really pick up and the party didn't really get going until late in our set. By the end of our set, the place was packed and steeped in ... let's say simcha.
  3. Evën Sh'siyah - Ely and Mark couldn't make it, but thankfully, the extremely talented guitarist, (formerly of Animus, Bloody Shabbos, and currently of Ozer Katz) Mark Sugar, sat in and helped out with some screaming lead guitar. Solid set all the way through. Good energy in the room. The place was packed and hopping. I got to jump around and sing/rap shlocked up lyrics to our cover of "Give It Away." By that time, especially in a band were I don't usually play a leading role, I was definitely ready to let loose.