Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Thoughts on the recording process and something being good enough (vs not being there at all)

A musician friend (a virtual friend, actually, I've never met her in real life) was torturing herself on Facebook about getting her current recording project finished. She wrote:
 I need to ask: does everyone else - ANYone else - get overwhelmed with this process? I get lost even with taking notes about which take to use and how much. Then I change my mind the next day! 
I left her this comment, which kind of distills my current view of recording in general and my own current work in particular:
"I am a queen of pushing things through the chute. I've put more than 200 mostly unknown Yiddish songs on youtube, songs that I learned the same day I recorded them. Are they great? No. Do they stink? No. Am I glad they're there? Yes. I think the key is to be realistic and abandon vanity. You know how some people say "there is never a good picture of me" - it's because they have an idealized vision of how they should look, or how they looked at one golden moment on one golden day and they're dissatisfied they don't look that way all the time. It's the same with recording. If you wait until it's perfect, you'll be waiting a long time ... 

"Be happy with who you are and how your ensemble sounds, and remember your recording is a slice of life that's happening right now, it is not a one-time distillation of your life's work. Good luck! Bring somebody else to the studio with you, someone who is less invested, and listen to  their opinions and advice."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

T-shirt: "Fate of the cigarette fiend" from Merch by Amazon

Click the picture to visit the shirt at Amazon (only $14.99) - below, see the image itself in a larger size. I love it, it's from an engraving by John Held Jr. around 1921.


Gimpel Beynish, famous Jewish matchmaker of the Lower East Side in the early 1900s, on t-shirts

One of my recent projects has been to clean up, translate, and publish the daily Yiddish comic strip called "Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker," which was illustrated by Samuel Zagat. His wife wrote a book about him in which she wrote that he never copyrighted any of his work. You can visit the blog I made for Gimpel, who was an irrepressible, grouchy, incompetent, curious, delightful fellow who was wildly popular on the Bowery back in the day: and there are two books of his comics which I've published.

I cast about for ways to increase Gimpel's fame in the modern era. Maybe t-shirts? Click on either of these pictures to visit the tshirts at "Merch by Amazon," only $14.99...

I'm trying out some Gimpel t-shirts on Amazon. Click to go have a look. Just $14.99 for a fine Jewish t-shirt experience! I'm wondering if I should add his name in Yiddish below the picture. 

Here is the other t-shirt design I'm trying out. Click the picture to go visit the tshirt in several colors. Just $14.99.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Unique concert of Yiddish music in Durham NC on March 5, 2016

Hi friends, mark your calendars, this is going to be a one-time-ever event!

Roger Lynn Spears and Jane Peppler (me) are doing a 45-minute set of very funny music from the turn of the twentieth century (in Yiddish but with subtitles on the wall so you get all the jokes). These are my favorite songs from the Morris Rund American Yiddish Penny Songs collection.

Then a famous singer all the way from Ukraine, Zhenya Lopatnik (she has an AMAZING sultry voice) is doing a 45-minute set of traditional Yiddish song and her own great compositions. We're projecting her subtitles too.

Please come! Tickets at the door $10 doors open at 7:30 pm that night, Saturday March 5.
At the JCC 1937 West Cornwallis Road, Durham, NC (long driveway, second to last building, on right, plenty of parking.

Click for a larger view:

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Hanukkah concert at the Carrboro ArtsCenter, December 13 2015, 4:30 pm

I think this is the fourth year Mappamundi and friends are presenting a Hannukah concert at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Joining us this year is Roger Lynn Spears on piano. We'll be doing music from our Cabaret Warsaw cd, from Mrs Maccabee's Kitchen (which features new funny lyrics set to folk tunes, ragtime and blues, tangos, swing tunes, even a lonesome cowboy ballad), and some new things altogether. We project all the words as subtitles on the wall so you don't miss any of the jokes.

We're doing the show in the afternoon so you can have time for other Chanukah shows on the same day!

Tickets are $10 at the door or $7 in advance from

For more information contact me at

You can also click on picture below to order tickets:

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Aggressive church name incites violence.

"Go ahead, just do it! You know you want to!"

This Cast the First Stone Ministry is in a strip mall across from the Iredell County Fairground.

Dixie Draft Horse Mule and Carriage Auction November 2015

Yesterday I went to the Iredell County Fairground to the big auction that happens twice a year. Here are some pictures I took.

This vendor of Confederate flags and paraphernalia had a "Going Out For Business" sale. Did he mean "Going Out Of Business" or was it a clever play on words?

This was the loudest animal at the auction, an adorable big orange spotted mule. She'd open her mouth wide, twist it into ridiculous shapes, and let out a long, deafening honk.

First you stand in a long line to get your buyer's number. These folks were blisteringly fast.

This year there was far less of the "gigantic rusty farm equipment" I love and a lot more of these decorative mushrooms, elves, Sambos, etc.

These guys sat in the same place for a couple hours at least.

This man raises dogs of the kind he has tucked in his jacket here.

My favorite auctioneer, and the only woman.

You can't see the tiny American bulldog in the lap of this kid with the orange hat. There were so many puppies being sold all around the fairgrounds, and some given away. In fact I was tempted to pick one up myself. Notice Buddha in this picture.

The old dude gazing down at what the auctioneer called a "rebel bench" won the auction.

An exhausted family. Many of the Mennonites came down from Pennsylvania and were selling everything from carriages and horses to fried pies.

This donkey is anatomically correct.

I bought this excavator for my grandson.

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