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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Jul 12, 2013

Just a year ago I previewed a new music festival, Yidstock! in Podcast 285. A year later the festival is back, bigger and better. From July 18-21, 2013  at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA  there will be live performances, music-related films, lectures, exhibits and other events that will culminate in two days of concerts featuring some of the top names in klezmer and Yiddish music. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets, go to or call 413.256.4900.

I discussed the festival once again with music critic and author Seth Rogovoy (The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music) who wrote the all-time bestselling guide to klezmer music. An award-winning music critic, teacher, radio commentator, and musician, Seth – who curated the festival - is the editor and publisher of Berkshire Daily and the Rogovoy Report and the author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet, the first full-length biographical analysis of the famed rock poet from a Jewish perspective. Seth frequently writes about Jewish music and culture for Forward, Pakn Treger, and the Berkshire Jewish Voice.

The highlight of this year’s festival will come at the 2 pm concert on Sunday, when renowned “downtown” legends Steve Bernstein (pictured) and Frank London share the stage for the first time, leading a quartet that includes keyboardist Jamie Saft (see Podcast 361) and drummer Kenny Wollesen. They will  explore the classic era of cantorial music through their trumpet voices, going back to such greats as Koussevitzky, Rosenblatt, and Sirota.

Podcast 364 features my conversation with Rogovoy and includes musical selections:

Klezmer Conservatory Band – “A Heymisher Bulgar / Mayn Elterns Fargenign” from Old World Beat. One of the oldest and most respected klezmer bands in the world is based in Boston and led by the venerable Hankus Netsky of the New England Conservatory.

Margot Leverett & The Klezmer Mountain Boys – “High Lonesome Honga” from 2nd Avenue Square Dance and Klezperanto – “Diddley Shmiddley/Kleine Princessin” from Klezperanto! Saturday night is “Klezmer fusion” as two bands present their take on the merger of country, bluegrass, American Roots and zydeco with klezmer music. Klezperanto is led by clarinetist Ilene Stahl. Having two female clarinetists leading the bands make these groups even more unusual and exciting.

Steve Bernstein – “Sim Shalom” from Diaspora Hollywood.  Bernstein may be best known as an avant-garde trumpeter whose “Diaspora” series on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, but a check of his discography show he moves effortlessly from groups like the Levon Helm Band and Medeski, Martin & Wood to his own nonet Millennial Territory Orchestra to scoring films and organizing benefits. His band Sexmob just released a new CD, Sexmob Plays Fellini: Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti.  It is a real coup to have Bernstein and Frank London on stage together on Sunday afternoon.

Golem – “Train Across Ukraine” from Citizen Boris. “Klezmer punk”, according to Seth Rogovoy. ‘Nuff said.