Hebrew School

Pictures and videos from last Thursday’s show

Giancarlo Vulcano, Julia Barry, Tim Monaghan, David Griffin, Taylor Bergren-Chrisman.

Hebrew School had a really amazing show last Thursday. Thanks to all of you who came out and saw us. Here are some audiovisuals.

Check out more photos, including some really nice ones of Joemca & the Poets, on Hebrew School’s flickr.

Some videos:

Tout ce qu’on pense

Sara Sara


“So like, how’s your project going?”

There it is, that pervasive question the past year and a half. Jack wants to know, as does bubbe, an R train rider, the Jews, Obama pollwatchers, Sixpoint Hop Obama drinkers, Six Points fellow fellows, and an assorted cadre of friends of friends, enemies of enemies, would-be impresarios and so forth.

Because the fellowship has presented me with such a great opportunity to push my art into such an exciting new direction, with new territory and parameters, the project’s been like a bond of pregnancy for me (as close as I’ll ever know, anyway). When someone is pregnant, I don’t ask them, “So, how do you think you’ll be able to carry this baby to term?” or, “So, is this baby going to be a successful orthodontist when it grows up?” Rather, I say, mazel tov, or even better yet, besha’ah tovah, meaning “in good time.” To be honest, I’d rather let the thing come to fruition before removing its foreskin.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t appreciated your questions. Very much so, in their sincerity, I have. And it isn’t to say, perhaps unlike traditional Jewish pregnancy, that some celebrating isn’t in order, and hence I will give you some details from the ultrasound:

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, and Hebrew School has evolved into what could be described as my Trout Fishing in America. This is to say that Hebrew School might itself be a questioning individual, a dusty place with shafts of sunlight coming in, a paradoxical outlook, a brisket recipe, a living ideal (real or imagined), a past abutted against the present. The songs play out these conflicting scenarios as if they were generated from a computer by chance, meaning that, depending on who you are, some songs may be heartwarming, others reprehensible.

Hebrew School goes into the recording studio in November. I’m happy to say that we’ll be recording in my own neighborhood of South Brooklyn, and that I’ll be joined by members of Golem, Lucinda Black Bear, and other surprise special guests. The record’s release will occur early this spring, with an accompanying show. Keep checking this site for more details as they develop!

Hebrew School at Banjo Jim’s

I’m happy to report on the success of Hebrew School’s first show this past Sunday at Banjo Jim’s. Since the show for me was somewhat experimental in nature– a way for me to chart the project’s musical direction in a live setting– I hadn’t publicized it widely outside of the blog. Nonetheless, a staunch group of dear friends came out to support me, including the amazing Jill Vogel, playwright Adam Mathias, director William Addis, Jorge Reichert, Innajara Simoes, and dear friend Kate Taylor.

Though tonight was largely a Six Points evening, it started out with a really fabulous singing and guitar-piano duo, the Pearl and the Beard.

above: Pearl, Beard

Clare Burson‘s new material is sweet and haunting.

My set, starting a little after 9:30, filled out the Super Bowl‘s calamitous fourth quarter for my hometown team, the New England Patriots. I literally watched the implosion occur as I played, on the TV screen above the bar. Nonetheless, the ruach (i.e., the Schwartz) was with me…

At a certain point I chose to ecstatically look at the ceiling instead. What would JJD?

…and thanks to the musicians I worked with, Taylor Bergren-Chrisman and Tim Monaghan, we did more than get the first downs. As a matter of fact, I believe we rocked.

Here’s a clip of the tail end of a work in progress entitled “He Looked at the Sun.” More videos to be posted on youtube soon!

The set included several more works in progress, including a song about hypocrisy in the Bible in the context of the current Israel/Palestinian struggle, an argument for atheism, and an incantation of love and reverence for God. Some songs use Jewish liturgical texts; some have original lyrics.

Dan Fishback phenomenized the defeatingly self-aware, post-structuralist woe of a twentysomething with the predictable vigor and candor.

Jeremiah Lockwood wove together a very different kind of blues, full of splendid tales of faith and murder, creatively and deftly accompanying himself– often in unison– with octave voicings on the guitar.

Thanks to those who came out, and keep an eye out for more Hebrew School in the not-too-distant future!

The Weekend, Pixelated

View from my back window on Friday night, Sunset Park, Brooklyn

I lost my camera during Chanukah, so this past weekend was spent in an odd realm of cell phone rectangles.

Friday night, I started out the evening by going to a gallery opening at Flux Factory in Long Island City, Queens where fellow Six Points fellow Andrea Dezsö was showing her work. The show was called New York New York New York and featured a raised map of the city along the entire floor of the gallery. Participating artists created pieces corresponding to the geographical area in which their work was placed. Andrea’s piece depicted Lilith and her son performing at the Lilith Cabaret in Coney Island.

There’s such an astonishing level of intricacy and detail in Andrea’s work, physically and conceptually, that it leaves one feeling delightfully dizzy. I understand that these are a series of animation studies for her fellowship piece, entitled The Demon Bridegroom. (More here.) Sadly, it sounds like Flux’s future is up in the air– I hear their lease is coming to an end. This makes me acutely aware of the passage of time as I had a sound installation in a show there in 2003.

Left: also on display, toy taxis running along a treadmill. Right: view from the back roof of Flux Factory. Queens is a trip…

Later that night, I proceeded to Greenpoint, Brooklyn (not a far distance from Long Island City, but a disproportionately long subway ride) where I got to see Harvest, Abacus, the Curhakestra, and finally Hells Hills.

Top: Abacus. Bottom: The Curhakestra.

Saturday found me up at dawn where I proceeded to morning Sabbath services at… Just kidding. Saturday I broke the Sabbath with White Magic at the newish Music Hall of Williamsburg with old and dear friend Erin Dowding (who once made good on a pledge to read 100 books in a year). The show was excellent (and the Music Hall is a great-sounding venue, if you have not been there yet), but I kept referring to them as the Blake Babies.

Clockwise from top: Juliana Hatfield (Mira Billotte), Evan Dando, and John Strohm.

“L’Shanah HaBa’ah Hi-Res”