The Klezmatics Celebrate 25 Years of Music with 2-CD set Live At Town Hall

World Tour Runs Sept 2011 through March 2012;

New Documentary, The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground in November; DVD tracks struggles and successes of groundbreaking group


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Nov 20 Hewlett, NY Hewlett Woodner Library
Nov 28 New York, NY Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Center FREE
Dec 4 Milan, ITALY Teatro Manzoni
Dec 10 Denver, CO L2 Arts and Culture Center
Dec 11 Jackson Hole, WY Center for the Arts
Dec 12 Salt Lake City, UT The State Room
Dec 13 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s
Dec 14 Santa Cruz, CA Moe’s Alley
Dec 15 Berkeley, CA Freight and Salvage
Dec 17 Sebastopol, CA Community Cultural Center
Dec 18 San Diego, CA Anthology
Dec 19 Los Angeles, CA Walt Disney Concert Hall
Dec 20 Portland, OR Aladdin Theater
Dec 21 Olympia, WA Washington Center for Perf Arts
Dec 22 Seattle, WA Neptune Theater
Jan 9 New York, NY Highline Ballroom w/ Lunasa (APAP)

Part Two of tour continues Feb-March 2012

Twenty-five years ago a group of curious musicians with diverse backgrounds in world music, jazz, classical and the avant-garde answered an ad in New York’s Village Voice seeking players for a klezmer band. Craving new creative avenues, they infused the centuries-old traditional, celebratory Jewish music with elements of several other genres and more than a little downtown New York chutzpah. Today—10 albums and countless touring miles later—The Klezmatics are virtually synonymous with klezmer itself, the only one to win a Grammy. To mark their silver anniversary, the band that put klezmer back on the map is releasing Live at Town Hall, a guest-studded, retrospective commemoration of a remarkable NYC concert that salutes their remarkable history and hints at tantalizing future possibilities.

To celebrate the album’s release on September 13th, the Klezmatics will embark on an extensive tour that will take them to such prestigious venues as Disney Hall (Los Angeles), Highline Ballroom (New York) and high-profile dates in Milan, Budapest, Riga, Prague and Amsterdam.

The Klezmatics documentary, The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground, will be released in November on 7th Art Releasing. Directed by Eric Greenberg Anjou, the DVD will include, among other special features, a previously unreleased performance of Woody Guthrie's “Lolly Lo” which didn't make it onto the band's Grammy-winning album.

Many Klezmatics members have come and gone since their 1986 debut gig, but Live at Town Hall finds the two remaining founders—Frank London (trumpet, horns, keyboards, percussion, vocals) and Lorin Sklamberg (lead vocals, accordion, guitar, piano)—joined by longtime bandmates Matt Darriau (clarinets, alto saxophone, kaval, vocals), Paul Morrissett (bass, tsimbl, vocals) and Lisa Gutkin (violin vocals), as well as two of the group’s regular drummers, David Licht and Richie Barshay. In addition, early members David Krakauer (clarinets, vocals) and Margot Leverett (clarinet) are among the many friends of the band who stopped by to contribute to the festivities.

“We wanted to celebrate with everyone who has been part of our family,” says London. “It was impossible to bring some of those who live far away, but we managed to have just about everyone important who has ever been in or played with the Klezmatics on stage with us. It felt so good and natural and right. The energy was incredible, the love and mutual respect. We are blessed to be part of such a wonderful community.”

Their second live album (the first, Brother Moses Smote the Water, was released in 2004), Live at Town Hall reaches all the way back for material to the Klezmatics’ 1988 debut, Shvaygn=Toyt. The band also chose a handful of tunes from the pair of albums on which the Klezmatics crafted new music from previously unknown Woody Guthrie compositions, 2006’s Grammy-winning Wonder Wheel and its followup, Woody Guthrie’s Happy Joyous Hanukkah. Those two critically lauded recordings found the Klezmatics not only singing in English—something they’d rarely done before—but breaking out of the klezmer mold nearly entirely. Their Grammy win for Wonder Wheel marked the first -- and only -- for a Jewish music group.

Most of Live at Town Hall, however, consists of the songs and sounds that have made the Klezmatics a huge success worldwide for the past two and a half decades, bringing them to more than 20 countries and winning them countless rave reviews and numerous awards along the way, including the Reis der Deutsches Schallplattenkritik (German Critics' Award) and the GLAMA Gay and Lesbian American Music Award, for their album The Well with Israeli folk singer Chava Alberstein. Klezmatics recordings have ascended to #1 in the Billboard Magazine World Music chart, the European World Music chart and the CMJ World Music chart.

But Live at Town Hall is more than a peek in the rear view mirror. The Klezmatics went overboard to make the gig and resulting album extra special. As Sklamberg points out, “Some of the songs, including Abe Ellstein’s ‘Bobe Tanz’ and the Woody Guthrie-Matt Darriau collaboration ‘Lolly Lo,’ make their first appearance on a Klezmatics CD here. And the presence of a large coterie of our friends singing backup makes for some great vocal moments, particularly a new Russian choral-inspired arrangement on ‘Dzhankoye’ and the sheer joy of singing together on such favorites as ‘Fisherlid,’ ‘St. John’s Nign,’ ‘Shnirele, perele’ and ‘Tepel.’”

The concert also gave the Klezmatics an opportunity to feature some of their esteemed guests in a solo setting: Joanne Borts on the title song from The Well; Adrienne Cooper and Sklamberg recreating their duet on “I Ain’t Afraid”; Joshua Nelson’s smoking “Elijah Rock” and Susan McKeown’s passionate take on “Gonna Get Through This World.” The show also featured Krakauer recreating “Fun tashlikh” from the band’s classic album Rhythm + Jews. Perhaps the most transcendent moment arrives when all of the instrumentalists cut loose on “NY Psycho Freylekhs.”

For the Klezmatics, the band’s 25th anniversary serves as an affirmation that the initial hunch they had—that this was music that would resonate with a contemporary audience—was on the mark. When they first started out in the mid-’80s, the klezmer revival was itself a new phenomenon; the musicians were still learning their way around the music, discovering how this traditional form with roots in Eastern European Jewish life applied in today’s fast-paced world. Now, the Klezmatics are an institution, beloved by audiences with a direct connection to Jewish culture and by those who may not have been familiar with it at all before encountering their music.

Over the years, their collaborations have been legion: they’ve worked with everyone from folk singers Theodore Bikel and Arlo Guthrie to poet Allen Ginsberg, the Master Musicians of Jajouka, New York downtown scene fixtures John Zorn and Marc Ribot, and pop singer Neil Sedaka. In the area of theatre, they composed the score for Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tony Kushner's adaptation of the classic Yiddish drama A Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds, and have worked in film and dance as well. They’ve appeared on TV programs as diverse as Late Night with David Letterman and Sex and the City, and teamed with classical violin icon Itzhak Perlman for the Emmy-winning PBS special Great Performances: In the Fiddler's House. They’ve also guested on numerous radio programs, including the BBC’s John Peel Show and NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.

Always looking for ways to expand and redefine, the Klezmatics have recorded two Yiddish dance standards with klezmer clarinet legend Ray Musiker for the album Klezmer Music: A Marriage of Heaven and Earth, Klezmaticized the Jamaican ska rhythm for a cover of the classic “Do the Ska (KlezSkaLypso)” on the Skatalites tribute CD Freedom Sounds and written music for the Pilobolus Dance Theatre’s Davenen (which premiered at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center) and for a new work by choreographer Twyla Tharp in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Martha Graham's birth.

Says Gutkin, “The Klezmatics, are, for many, more than just another world music group. We are their family. In a different era we would be their aunts and uncles. They know what we do needs to be preserved.”

Klezmatics Info and Photos:

See Trailer / Screening Schedule for Documentary Film “The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground”:

KLEZMATICS – Live at Town Hall Track info

Disc 1

1 Man in a Hat
Frantic gay love song, mostly in English. Traditional tune, lyrics by the band's original bassist, David Lindsay.

2 Bobe Tanz
Grandma's Dance. From the Yiddish-American musical film Yidl mitn fidl.

3 Dzhankoye
Name of a town in the Crimea, Ukraine. The song is one expressing feisty pride in Jewish-run collective farms in the region

4 Rhythm + Jews with Horns Medley: Fun tashlikh/Fisherlid
Returning from tashlikh. Tashlikh is the traditional act of symbolically casting away the previous year's sins by throwing pieces of bread into a large body of water on the afternoon of Rosh Hashana. Fisher's song. A song of lost love. Lyrics written by Aliza Greenblatt (Woody Guthrie's mother-in-law) to a traditional tune. A performance of this song with Itzhak Perlman at Tanglewood was part of the catalyst for the Klezmatics' Guthrie project.

5 Dybbuk Suite
Original music composed by the band for the first productions of Tony Kushner's adaptation of S. Ansky's Yiddish drama The Dybbuk. A dybbuk is a restless soul that inhabits the body of a living person until it is exorcised.

6 Di krenitse
The Well. Music by renowned Israeli singer/songwriter Chava Alberstein to a poem by martyred Yiddish writer Itsik Fefer, who was murdered in Stalin's purge of Jewish artists in 1952. This is the title song from the Klezmatics' cd featuring Alberstein, The Well.

7 St. John's Nign
A nign is an Hasidic wordless tune, sung on syllables such as day-day-day or ma-ma-ma. Composed by Lorin Sklamberg for a cd compilation benefiting the restoration of the organ at NYC Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

8 Eyliyohu hanovi
Elijah the prophet. Traditionally sung towards the end of the passover meal in the home - the door is opened to symbolically welcome Elijah into the house and to drink from the cup on the table prepared for him.

9 Elijah Rock
Traditional African-American spiritual. Originally performed by the Klezmatics with Joshua Nelson as part of the Freedom Songs concert at NYC's Museum of Jewish Heritage and later on the road and on the cd Brother Moses Smote the Water.

Disc 2

1 Davenen
Praying. Composed by Frank London on commission as part of a suite for the Pilobolus Dance Theatre exploring the body movements associated with traditional Jewish worship.

2 I Ain't Afraid
Yiddish-English adaptation of a Holly Near song. Originally performed by Lorin Sklamberg and singer Adrienne Cooper for a NYC klezmer benefit for victims of the World Trade Center attack of 9/11/01. Later appeared on the Klezmatics cd Rise Up! Steyt oyf! with Cooper as guest.

3 Gonna Get Through This World
Music composed by Lisa Gutkin to Woody Guthrie's lyrics. Premiered at the debut concert of the band's Guthrie project at NYC's 92nd Street Y by Susan McKeown and the band. McKeown also performs it on the Klezmatics' Grammy Award winning cd Wonder Wheel: Lyrics by Woody Guthrie.

4 Holy Ground
Music composed by Frank London to Guthrie's lyrics. Premiered at the 92nd Street Y concert and recorded on Wonder Wheel.

5 Moroccan Game
Music composed by Frank London for the Klezmatics' one-time-only collaboration with the Master Musicians of Jajouka at NYC's Central Park SummerStage.

6 Hanuka Gelt
Hanuka money (refers to the tradition of giving kids pocket change as a present on Hanukkah). Music composed by Lorin Sklamberg to Guthrie's lyrics. Originally appeared on the Klezmatics cd Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanukkah.

7 Medley: Lolly Lo/NY Psycho Freylekhs
Lolly lo - music by Matt Darriau to lyrics by Guthrie. Premiered at the 92nd Street Y show. Previously unrecorded. Lyrics are an adaptation of the Carribean folk song Liley lo.

8 Shnirele, perele
Little string, little pearl. An Hasidic song telling what will happen when the Messiah comes. This is one of the bands signature numbers, and originally appeared on their second recording Rhythm + Jews. The band interprets the lyrics as an ecstatic chant for peace. Lorin learned the song from Adrienne Cooper during YIVO's intensive summer Yiddish course.

9 Ale birder
We're all brothers. The Klezmatics' anthem, extolling the indisputable power of song. Originally appeared on the Klezmatics debut lp Shvaygn = toyt (Silence = Death). Lorin also learned this one from Cooper.

10 Tepel
Rudy Tepel was a klezmer clarinetist and bandleader popular at Hasidic weddings in NYC. Lorin discovered this tune on a live tape of Tepel's band made around 1960 in a collection at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, where he works as Sound Archivist. He later found out that it come from the repertoire of the Modzitz Hasidim. The Klezmatics learned and recorded it for their cd Rise Up! Shteyt oyf!, and called it Tepel in tribute.