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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nervn, nervn: a song about not being able to tolerate the modern world

Randy Kloko and I recorded the third (last) collection of music from the Itzik Zhelonek collection last month and now the cd is out.

He lives far away and we can't do gigs together very often so in order to get this wonderful music heard I've been indulging in long hours of making animated Yiddish music videos with English subtitles. Here is one that just kept me up all night in the making:

With pianist Roger Lynn Spears accompanying, Randy tells the story of a sorry fellow who feels assaulted by the noise and clamor of the modern city. It was 1929 so there was a konke in the street ringing its bell DZHIN DZHIN DZHIN as well as people throwing themselves out windows and running around like dog-catchers. His wife takes him electrizirn which sure sounds like electroshock therapy to me, but Wikipedia said that treatment didn't exist until late in the 1930s, so I'm not sure what exactly was being done to him.

To read the translation, see the post on his song, Nerven Nervn, at my Polish Jewish Cabaret blog.

I make my little cartoon characters in a free program called and then throw them into Adobe Premiere Pro. It's sort of like making soup. I don't have a plan when I get started, I just go line by line figuring out how to illustrate the text.

You can buy (or just listen to) our cd Nervez! Yiddish Songs from Warsaw Volume 3 at Bandcamp.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Buttermilk biscuits

I recently got a request for my buttermilk biscuit recipe. Here it is!

Buttermilk Biscuits

1/4 cup butter
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

I use a cheese grater to grate the butter on top of the flour. I add the other dry ingredients and squish it all together with my fingers till it's mixed. I add the buttermilk (it might take a little more or less) and roll it out about 1/2" thick on a floured pastry cloth. I cut it up with a small biscuit cutter and if I'm not too lazy I brush more buttermilk on top of the biscuits. Bake at 450 for about 12-15 minutes. My oven doesn't heat well from the top so at some point I actually turn all the biscuits over so they get brown on both sides.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hurrah! The third and last Itzik Zhelonek cd is finished: Nervez! - Yiddish Songs from Warsaw

These days life smiles on those who don't believe in delayed gratification. Jerry Brown and I finished mixing this cd around noon today and you can already hear all the music (for free) at the Mappamundi Bandcamp site.

Yiddish Theater Music from Warsaw Poland: Nervez!

I think this is the most word-oriented of the three cds. The songs are clever, thoughtful, cynical, droll, nostalgic, modern, old-fashioned, full of life. I really hope you'll go have a listen: Nervez!. There are translations for all the songs available with download of the album.

The title is pronounced "nehr-VEZ" in Yiddish and it means nervous. The title track - sung by the amazing baritone Randy Kloko - is sung by a guy who is so overwhelmed by the sounds and sights of the modern world that his wife takes him to the doctor and he gets electroshock treatments while the world roars on.

There will be "real" cds in a few weeks. Now I should try to find some places for us to present the music. Ideas of venues that appreciate Jewish music from before World War II?