Jewish Music: How the Other Side Lives

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Yes, Jewish music is experiencing a renaissance. Between JDub, Modular Moods, and independent artists like Sarah Aroeste and Michelle Citrin, crazy amounts of new Jewish culture are being pumped out at an astounding pace — and here’s where I should take an opportunity to plug my new Jewish music column on Nextbook, which features Hadara, Can Can, and the new Soulfarm/Blue Fringe side project on MTV.

lipa! gertner!The Jewish Music Report is a new site — the third of its kind, along with Shemspeed and Klezmer Shack, that claims to be the biggest Jewish music site in the world. And, although it looks like it deals only with Orthodox music — that is, specific genre singers such as Lipa Schmeltzer and my cousin Mordechai Ben David — its reach is vast, and its coverage impressively wide.

Its launch probably has nothing to do with the upcoming Event, starring Lipa Schmeltzer — but I’m sure the timing couldn’t hurt either. Since last year’s sudden cancellation of the Big Event due to rabbinical warnings, Lipa has blown up from a wacky-but-talented opening act into a full-fledged major with wacky Youtube rap videos into a major Hasidic media star. The coverage provoked a profile in the New York Times, and, in many ways, backfired on its organizers — some rabbis who authorized the ban later admitted to having been coerced into signing, or signing without really knowing what was going on. It also propelled Lipa’s fame into uncharted waters. Whereas before, everyone in the Hasidic world kind of knew about the singer who did holy parodies of secular songs in patrick of can canYiddish, now everyone — even non-music listeners — knew that he was a good Jew who just happened to ire the wrong rabbi.

And now — in some circles, at least — he’s bigger than Jesus.

The Event is being held at Madison Square Garden. The new site can’t get enough of Lipa. And Jewish music is flourishing, as well as Jewish music writing. So what do you have to complain about?

Posted on January 29, 2009

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