Friday, April 25, 2008


Ok, folks, we're in the home stretch and I've saved the best for last.  To get us in the mood for Mike Hammerman's extraordinary Dayeinu (see below), here are a couple of my favorite Dayeinu instrumentals:

We begin with the Farbrangen Fiddlers, whose second LP American Chai (1976) is a pre-klezmer masterpiece of Jewish Americana (sadly, unavailable on CD). The Fiddlers' first record had a very small pressing - thus their "Dayeinu Bluegrass" (cutting edge for the 1970s, trust me) has rarely been heard.  I taped it on cassette one Sunday evening off WEVD in New York, from Robert Cohen's wonderful Yedid Nefesh program.  Back in those early days Robert was the Vin Scelsa of Jewish radio. Apologies for the sound (there's a drop-out or two), but David Shneyer's guitar and Alan Oresky's fiddle make this Dayeinu sweeter than that first sip of Shevitz!

The next cut speaks for itself.  It's from an LP called Twistin' The Freilach by Lou Klayman and his orchestra: a priceless piece of Jewish pop-culture, in which - you guessed it - traditional simcha songs are played in the style of that 1960s dance sensation "The Twist"! 

Here's a Dayeinu For The Ages.  When I started collecting Jewish novelty songs - think Jewish Dr. Demento (he is Jewish, I know) - I would occasionally come across a track that was recorded in complete seriousness, but hit me funnier than many comedy songs.  Not like the stuff on NPR's Annoying Music Show, which is just annoying.  I mean great music, the kind that gets better with age.  (Sometime I'll let you hear my 10 worst Hava Nagilas and you'll see what I mean.) 

So, enjoy this Pesach treat, the late Cantor Michael Hammerman, tenor, beloved hazzan of Brookline's historic Congregation Kehilat Israel, from his album of Jewish songs called Bless This House.  I don't want to spoil the fun of discovering it for yourself.  I'll just mention, in the third verse, after he gives a krechtz (cry) on the words "try to do it" the track gets more and more bizarre by the second, straight through to the end.  This is one you'll want on your iPod. (Here are the lyrics.)

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