Saturday, December 30, 2006

KlezKamp in the Yiddish Forward

Read an article about KlezKamp 2006 in the Yiddish Forward here.
At home after KlezKamp and finally getting out from under the kind of sleep deprivation usually associated with religious cult indoctrinations or prisoner interrogations and a vocal croak eerily identical to Froggy the Gremlin's...
This was an exceptionally amazing KK on so many levels. While as per other years, nearly 60% of the attendees were there for the first time, a regularly reoccuring miracle. Our demagraphics have shifted in the most amazing way: we were excited to be host to more young, articulate and exciting musicians (like trumpeter Ben Homes and mandolinist Eric Stein) and to Jews who are part of more Orthodox communites where Yiddish is spoken -- and read -- on a regular basis. This broader footprint makes the context of the living Yiddish culture which we champion all the more exciting and viable. Highlights for me: playing in the German Goldenshteyn memorial concert; recording Ray Musiker's new CD in yet another converted hotel bedroom (this time room 4112) along with Aaron Alexander, Jim Guttmann, Alex Kontorovitch, Ken Maltz under the leadership of Pete Sokolow and recorded by King Django. The music (a mix of great traditional tunes, an unpublished Yiddish theater song by Abe Ellstein and some Ray originals) was amazing and we'll have the CD out later in 2007; my interview with old pal Andy Statman before a packed house. Speaking of Andy: another great high point was grabbing my banjo and sneaking away with him and Mark Rubin on bass and guitar, for a breathtaking ride through Andy's amazing bluegrass mandolin playing.... (and you haven't lived until you've heard Andy sing tenor harmony on bluegrass standards like Don Reno and Red Smiley's "I Know You're Married")...Had a blast at my book party, a gossamer thin excuse to play tunes with Rubin and Cookie and to zhloke (drink) Steve Weintraub's amazing martinis.. Thanks mucho to the jaw droppingly wonderful Faith Jones for organizing it. Of course, there are always those things I meant to do which didn't happen like a midnight screening with MIchael Wex of the new all Yiddish Hasidic heist film "Der Gesheft.' Maybe at the next KlezKamp, which, I am happy to say, we are already planning for December 23-28 2007.

A few favorite shots from KlezKamp 2006

A grandfather and grandaughter take a turn on the dance floor.

Music teacher Mark Rubin and KlezKamp founder Henry Sapoznik, rather than having a fit when someone began playing "Fiddler on the Roof" in the lobby (as most of the rest of us did), decided to join in the fun with some atypical dancing.

Dance instructor Steve Weintraub on duty as barkeep for Henry's book launch. The man has a costume for everything.

Henry's mom Pearl Sapoznik and Living Traditions associate director Sabina Brukner's Aunt Regina at lunch. These two "kvellniks" (older relatives of KlezKamp faculty) are surrogate-family to me and my partner: since we moved to New York and are far from our own families, it is the KlezKamp extended circle which has taken us in. Both Pearl and Regina have had us over at pesach, with food of a quality and magnitude that can only be hinted at. You may not have realized that the potato kasha soup the hotel served this year was made from a recipe Pearl gave the chef last year.

Jenny Romaine, leader of the teen theatre workshop, and Frank London, trumpet teacher, with the mitzvah kinder, who played a major role in the videos the teens shot. You can count on Jenny to have some of the stranger Jewish toys and costumes.

Day Four Sleep Deprivation

It's one thing when people choose a quiet moment when the lobby is relatively empty to catch a few zzz's. Jenny Romaine, who was leading the teen theatre workshop, managed to fall asleep as Anna Schnur-Fishman and Adrienne Cooper conducted an animated conversation not two feet away (below).

The Littlest Klezmorim

Thursday evening, as Kamp is winding up, is the chance to check out what other people have been doing all week. For the under-five crowd, KinderNest is a chance to make and wear costumes, and to bang on drums. Some slightly older children help out with providing the melody.

Then the older children get a chance to perform the traditional final-evening play. This year, in keeping with our Hasidic theme, the play involved a test of faith and a barrel of shmaltz herring. Thanks to Michael and Rill Wex for writing the script.

After dinner the much-anticipated teen performance takes another look at our theme. Our hosts were Sabu and Jonathan.
All the teens did amazing work writing their script, shooting and mixing footage for the video sequences, and performing as they explored I.L. Peretz's "Gilgul fun a Nign" (The Transmigration of a Melody) in ways Peretz could not have imagined.