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Monday, January 30, 2012

Vegan Fight Song (This Ae Nicht)

I'm thinking of moving my whole Skylark Productions album collection over to because the site is such a pleasure to use. However, it remains to be seen if it's as good for the viewer (potential buyer) as it is for me, the installer of music.

Here's part of my trip down memory lane: Lisa Pickel (one of the wonderful singers in the Solstice Assembly, a vocal ensemble I directed in the late 1980s and into the 1990s) wrote this parody of the fine Young Tradition song "This Ae Nicht." Since my son is currently starving himself on some even stricter variety of a vegan diet, this one is for him. Our rendition is a little out of tune, but very enthusiastic! If you click on into the site, you'll see a lot of our music. Let me know how it works for you.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Routenote Direct: musicians, have you tried it?

If you click on that little arrow, you will hear songs from the cd Beth Holmgren and Jane Peppler (me) did in 1991 when she still lived in San Diego and we didn't know if we'd ever live close enough to have tea together. Routenote Direct is an interesting way to bypass itunes and Amazon - you can buy tracks directly from their site. If you give it a try, please let me know what you think. Thanks!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hector: Jethro the donkey's side-kick

two donkeysPicture from Hector's first escape. We figured out he's sucking in his gut and slipping through a gap in the fence (Marco watched with binoculars while Ez led Jethro away - we watched Hector rev into high gear to get back to the herd, ie Jethro).

stubborn little donkeyAs I was told by the guy who sold Hector to me, he does not "get it" about being led - I had to pull him all the way around the block. But if I take Jethro for a walk Hector trots alongside quite happily. Most of the time.

Because he only stays with us "most of the time," I have to put the halter on him. These pictures are from when I was taking a rest from hauling him around the neighborhood. Don't laugh.

shaggy little brown donkey

fuzzy small donkey

stubborn little donkey


Monday, January 16, 2012

Pratie Heads 30-year anniversary St Patrick's Day concert: March 17, 2012

Bob Vasile and I gave our first concert together March 17, 1982. I don't know how much longer we'll be doing this - you never know - so come to our anniversary concert if you're in the area! Saturday, March 17, 2012, at 7:30 pm so you have time to go out carousing afterwards.

We're holding it at the Shared Visions Retreat Center 3717 Murphy School Road, Durham NC, where we taught at Danny Gotham's PicknBow folk music weekend this past summer. The weekend was a blast and we really enjoyed playing in the old-fashioned, newly refurbished auditorium in the school Jay Miller bought and brought back to life.

Tickets are $8 in advance via PayPal or $10 at the door. We will probably give away some free cds.


Nu, a daygeh? from Cabaret Warsaw

Peysach Burstein sang this song first - he called himself, among other things, a "coupletist" - meaning he sang comical songs with extemporized rhyming verses. Sometimes couplets were topical, about issues of the time (like a Jay Leno monologue, maybe).

It's hard to translate this refrain. I used several different possibilities in the captions. Maybe Alfred E. Neuman's "What, me worry?" would be best.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

OK, one more: "Sex Appeal," from Mappamundi's upcoming cd...

This was one of the first songs I fell for in our Warsaw Cabaret project. Above, us playing it in public for the first time (way too fast I guess)...

Below: it was a hit in the 1930s both in its original Polish-language version, performed here in the 1937 movie "Piętro wyżej" (Upstairs) by Eugeniusz Bodo, a big Polish movie star, in drag, playing Mae West...

and by Menashe Oppenheim, who sang it in Yiddish.


My band Mappamundi begins recording "Cabaret Warsaw" next week.

It was last summer my friend Beth, chair of the Slavic languages department at Duke University and my singing partner since the 1970s, suggested we make a cd with our world music band Mappamundi of music played in Warsaw cabarets and kleynkunst theaters between the world wars, when many of the composers, lyricists, and performers were Jews, some assimilated and working in Polish language in nightclubs like Qui Pro Quo, others developing a Yiddish-language equivalent in little hole-in-the-wall experimental theaters like Azazel.

It's no easy thing, creating a whole repertoire from scratch. To give it some focus, we decided to have a try-out concert at Beth's house in the fall and that's when my friend Paul Deblinger shot this video. You can see more of the songs at our youtube channel. We also spent hours preparing captions which Beth's husband projected on the wall over our heads so people would get the jokes...

Next weekend we'll go into the Rubber Room and try to record at least the rhythm tracks for the cd we'll be calling "Cabaret Warsaw: Yiddish and Polish hits of the 1930s."


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adventures in animal handling.

This was like one of those SAT questions about the fox, the goose, the snake, and the river, and you have to get them all across. Or whatever.

Jethro the big donkey and Julius the dog both needed a walk. Hector the small donkey did not need a walk, he hasn't learned that he should go forward when he's wearing his haltar and a lead line. So I thought I'd take Jethro and Julius on a walk, they do ok together, and I'd leave Hector home.

I put Jethro into his halter and walked him down to my son's house; I hitched him to a tree and started up the stairs to get my son's dog Julius.

In less than a minute, Hector the small donkey had (somehow) slipped out of his paddock, run up and down the straightaway a couple times at top speed.

By the time I came out of my son's house with the dog, Hector had come down the hill to join Jethro. Hector hasn't been separated from Jethro since he arrived a few weeks ago, and evidently wasn't going to put up with it.

Hence I learn that Hector could have gotten out of the paddock at any time over these past weeks, he just didn't choose to, because he wanted to be with Jethro.

Now I have a dog on a lead, VERY eager for a walk, I have a large donkey tied to a tree, and I have a small donkey hanging out next to the big donkey. What to do.

I tied the dog to a different tree and went to get Hector's halter and lead line. Hector and Julius the dog do NOT get along because Julius has been herding the donkeys at night when we let him out - he runs them in huge circles over and over, barking and nipping at them. Even when Jethro got tired of it and landed a solid hoof-thunk on the dog's head, he wasn't discouraged.

So I leave the dog tied to the tree, whimpering in dismay and astonishment, and take the two donkeys off for a walk. How horrible! Hector doesn't want to walk, so he lags behind, which annoys Jethro, who circles around me to bite Hector. If he gets behind Hector, things go better - then he nips at Hector, who then hustles along. When they're next to each other, Hector stops, and if he gets bitten from the front, he goes 0 mph.

I hauled them around the block, hauled them back into the pen, and then took the dog for a walk. I wonder if there might have been a better way to do this?