music in times of uncertainty

by tobybee

in times like this in australia – when we’re faced with uncertainty about which party will lead our next government, and when we’re faced with the overwhelming sense (or, at least I am) that much of this country, like much of the western world, has irretrievably moved to the right – I feel like it becomes even more important not to look to governments, voting, parliaments, MPs or senators as the locus of our democracy. That whatever democracy can possibly entail – and whatever doubts I might have about the possibilities of democracy – at the moment what we’ve got is a democracy that reinforces why nationalism ain’t for me. So, instead, I’m trying to turn to communities, both local and transnational.

And to the joyful music which proliferates around the jewish diaspora. For those of you who haven’t found it yet, ‘Shtetl on the Shortwave’ is a rad radio show out of Montreal (which can also be listened to on their website).

Shtetl on the Shortwave is radio that delights with its quirky, and sometimes irreverent, take on Jewish arts and culture. The creation of Tamara Kramer, a Montreal-based journalist, Shtetl has been airing on CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal for over two years.

Blending music, interviews, storytelling, the ancient and the contemporary, the sacred and the mundane- Shtetl is radio where the past is a source of wonder and mysticism, and where contemporary cultural producers can share a space with Jewish people and concepts of yesteryear.

Shtetl seeks out and presents stories not often heard in mainstream media, highlighting a broad range of themes including spirituality, sexuality, food, politics, death, love, identity, art, music, theater and more. Few places on the airwaves invite you to share in a live rendition of the Kol Nidre prayer and then to hang out with Shabbasdik, a Yiddish drag king.

Shtetl speaks with activists, circus performers, rabbis, doulas, rock stars, cantors, scribes, Jewish politicians in the Parti Quebecois, converts – each individuals who are shaping today’s Jewish cultural and artistic landscape.
Never nasty in tone, Shtetl is not afraid to politely ask difficult questions.

Whether you’re Jewish or not, Shtetl is your home on the airwaves for Yiddishkeit with an edge.

Thanks for tuning in and being part of the Shtetl on the Shortwave!

Shtetl on the Shortwave
CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal
Airs on the 1st & 3rd Fridays of the month
From 11 am to 12 pm

And there are two recent shows I want to draw your attention to…

Firstly, the show from June 3rd, when Tamara spoke with Abayudayan Rabbi Gershom Sizomu. The description of the show: “This week on Shtetl meet the Rabbi of the Abayudaya. Gershom Sizomu is the spiritual leader of this unique community of Jews in Uganda. (Abayudaya is Lugandan for The People of Judah). What are the origins of this community? How many Jews are there in Uganda? How has the political history of the country affected this community? What challenges face the Abayudaya today?
Rabbi Sizomu will be with us for the hour to explore these questions and his own journey as the leader of this traditional and vibrant community of African Jews.
Music by The Barry Sisters and The Abayudaya.”

And secondly, the show from this past week, when Tamara went to KlezKanada, this amazing yiddish camp held in Quebec, and spoke with organisers and teachers: “If you’re looking for the sounds of fiddle, accordian, clarinet and Yiddish….you need only get your tuchus (Yiddish for derrière) to the Laurentian mountains an hour north of Montreal. For the past 15 years, klezmer and Yiddish lovers have been getting together at KlezKanada for a week-long festival of Yiddish culture. Young, old, Jewish or not, religious or secular…all are welcome to get bitten by the Yiddish culture bug.
Shtetl put her flip flops on and headed to KlezKanada for a day. That’s where she caught up with Yiddish Princess (pop-rock klezmer band playing at the Sala Rossa this Monday night) and The Other Europeans -an incredible band bringing together world class klezmer and Roma musicians who’ll be playing as part of the upcoming Main; The Montreal Jewish Music Festival happening at the end of this month.
Music by The Barry Sisters, The Other Europeans, Yiddish Princess, Shtreiml, Beirut and Nayekhovichi.”

Listening to that program makes me wonder what kind of jew i’d be if I’d grown up in that kind of environment. probably a lot more interesting. hmmm…

So definitely head on over to the Shtetl website and have a listen to the podcasts of these shows. in the meantime, here, for your delectation, is The Other Europeans (what a great name, hey!)

and, just to spruik a gig that’s happening in NYC on Wednesday…
Breslov Bar Band are launching their new album ‘Have No Fear’…

We’ll be having sets by the Breslov Bar Band (Hasidic music re-imagined), Yiddish Princess (Kate Bush meets Bon Jovi in Yiddish), and the Xylopholks (Furry animals playing ’20’s ragtime and Jacob Hoffman klezmer tunes.)

Doors open at 6 PM. Sets at 7, 8, and 9 PM.

Tickets are $10 in advance/$15 at the door and can be reserved
Wednesday 18:00 – 22:00
Knitting Factory – Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

get thee there!!