BKG Part 2

Here is part 2 of my interview with scholar and curator Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. In part 1, BKG talked about growing up, her work, and her career in academia. In today’s conversation we delve deeply into the work that’s occupied her directly for at least the last 10 years: being the chief curator of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Through this work BKG has had to unpack and face down histories of Jews in Poland and confront what’s happening in Poland today, and we get into all of that. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on April 19th, the work and perspective Barbara offers us is so important. I’m so glad to share this conversation with all of you.

Following today’s episode, Radiant Others will take a short break, but be back soon with more exciting conversations!

Music for today’s episode is from my cd, Radiant Others.


BKG Part 1

Finishing out this mini-season of Radiant Others with a very special 2-part interview with the amazing Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, or as she’s known among the klezmer world, BKG. Barbara is a groundbreaking scholar in Jewish and Performance Studies, a University Professor at the Tisch School at NYU, and the Chief Curator of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. I knew of Barbara from her lectures at Klezkamp and Klezkanada, and from the incredibly high praise of her I heard from her peers and many students in the Yiddish world. Her name also came up more than once when talking with people about the early klezmer revival in the course of making this podcast, so I knew I had to talk to her.

This is the first time she and I have had the chance to really sit down and get to know each other and it was amazing. So amazing in fact that I’ve decided to break our conversation into two episodes, today’s, covering her earlier life and career, and a second episode that I’ll release next week covering her experience creating the POLIN museum and how her work and life is interacting with the state of Poland’s political climate today. It’s clear to me that Barbara’s work has had a big influence on many of klezmer’s scholars and artists alike. It’s my true pleasure to share this conversation.

Musical Selections

“Shvartsinke Karshalakh” by Mariam Nirenberg, from Folksongs In the East European Jewish Tradition

“A Yur Nukh Mayn Khasenes” & “Di Yerishe Fin Mayn Zeydn” by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, from Az du furst avek: A Yiddish Folksinger from the Bukovina

“Akh Odessa,” Mariam Nirenberg, Folksongs In the East European Jewish Tradition

Hi-resMarta Kusmier

Ethel Raim

Today’s episode features singer, music researcher, and arts advocate Ethel Raim. Actually, it’s quite hard to encapsulate Ethel’s long and continuing career. She’s the emeritus artistic director of the Center For Traditional Music and Dance, is a noted teacher of Yiddish, Balkan, and other styles of folk singing, and founded the important folk group The Pennywhistlers. Working with Zev Feldman and Andy Statman to present and fund concerts by Dave Tarras in the 70s, Ethel had a big hand in bringing klezmer music out of its “dry period.” It was a big treat with me to get a chance to talk to Ethel about her life and career, and I’m so happy to be able to share it all with you.

Musical Selections:

– Oy vey mamen ikh shpil a libe – Traditional Yiddish song from the repertoire of Ita Taub – performed by Ethel Raim, recorded live at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Performed by Urban Women Village Song (Ethel Raim, Sonya Cohen & Catherine Foster) live at a 1994 concert at New York’s Dance Theatre Workshop:

– Nye spasobnaya bila vryemichka – Russian song from the repertoire of the Fyodorov sisters – with guest artist Ellen Shumsky.
– Tsar Murat Mara dumashe – Traditional Bulgarian song.
– Chuli se sa male – Traditional Macedonian song.

– Mayn Rue Plats – Text by Moris Rosenfeld – performed by The Pennywhistlers on our 1968 Nonesuch recording.

Go here for a long bio of Ethel’s many, many accomplishments.

Susan Hoffman-Lankin-Watts

Today on the podcast, Susan Hoffman-Lankin-Watts. Susan is a fourth generation (at least!) Philadelphia klezmer musician and one of my favorite trumpet players in this music. If you want to hear the spirit of the old world come from the bell of a trumpet, listen to Susuan. The daughter of klezmer drumming legend Elaine Hoffman-Watts (z”l), Susan has done everything from touring the world in middle and high school with groups like the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, playing with groups like Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars and Socalled, and fronting her own bands. Most recently, she’s developing a project in Philadelphia featuring all new music from an all-star band of women klezmer musicians, to be debuted in October of this year. I’ve known Susan played with her and her mom for about as long as I’ve been playing klezmer and it’s a real treat for me to share this deep and extremely hometown conversation with you all.

Musical Selections:

Liberation Love Song – from Hartsklap

Der Freiling Zeisinke (Sweet Spring) – from Hartsklap

Freilach 21 – from Elaine Hoffman-Watts, I Remember Klezmer

Joseph Joseph – from The Klez Dispensers, Say You’ll Understand

Hartsklap – from Hartsklap

Photo Credit Alan Lankin

Sanne Möricke

Hi everyone, the Radiant Others Podcast is back!

I’m so excited to share this conversation with the great klezmer accordionist Sanne Möricke, from Berlin. We got to talk back in November when we were working on a project (as yet unnamed) with Michael Winograd in Brooklyn.

Sanne is one of my favorite klezmer accordionists and talking with her was fantastic. She plays in a lot of really great European-based bands like Trio Yas, Khupe, and You Shouldn’t Know From It. I learned a lot from this conversation and I hope you will too.

Musical Selections:

Hora/Zhok (Möricke) – Unreleased

Heymisher (Trad/arr. Khupe) – Khupe/Heymisher

Hora (Debka) (Trad/arr. Khupe) – Eyns, Tsvey, Dray

Khasene (Trad/arr. Khupe) – Khupe/Heymisher

Let’s Trip (Möricke) – Unreleased

Honga (Trad/arr. Trio Yas) – Get Up! The Dance Album (On Sale March 9th!)

Find out more about Sanne

Live at Klezkanada 2017 #3 Episode 6 – Veretski Pass

Welcome everyone, to the 6th episode of the Radiant Others Klezmer music Podcast!!

What can I say about the band Veretski Pass? Veretski Pass takes its name from the mountain pass through which Magyar tribes crossed into the Carpathian basin to settle what later became the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These three musicians, Cookie Segelstein, Josh Horowitz, and Stu Brotman truly make up one of klezmer’s supergroups. Between the three of them they are founding members of seminal bands like Brave Old World and Budowitz and have been mainstays of festivals like Klezkamp and Klezkanada. I’m extremely impartial here: these are three of my favorite people, and favorite musicians in any genre.

Music Selections:

“Call to Gather” & “Yismekhu” from The Klezmer Shul Live

“Vinnister Sher” from Verestki Pass

“Hora Liora” & “Grass Widow” from Trafik

“Stanislaver Bulgar” from Verestki Pass

Please send feedback to dan@danblacksberg.com and rate & review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Find out more about Veretski Pass here

Veretski Pass

Live From Klezkanada #2 2017 Episode 5 – Mark Slobin

Welcome everyone, to the 5th episode of the Radiant Others Klezmer music Podcast!!

I had the pleasure of talking to ethnomusicologist and historian Mark Slobin at Klezkanada back in August. We had a great talk about the arc of cultural revivals, the creation of Ethnic identity in the US, and of course, the early days of the klezmer scene.

Anyone at Klezkanada will remember the torrential downpour that happened during this interview. Mark and I might get a little shouty at times in the middle of this episode, when the rain was coming down the hardest.

This is the first time I’ve interviewed someone who does not have their own musical output, so I offer for you a bunch of classic klezmer and Yiddish Tracks. All of these can be found on Youtube.

Song selections:

Abe Schwartz – Unzer Toirele
Nekhama Lifshsitz – Reyzele
Abe Schwartz – Ai Raci Ku Ne Draci
Lieutenant Josef Frankl’s Orchestra – Yiddish Blues
Naftule Brandwein – Der Heiser Bulgar

Live from Klezkanada ’17! Shura Lipovsky/Josh Waletsky

Welcome everyone, to the 4th episode of the Radiant Others Klezmer music Podcast!! This episode also marks the beginning of our 2nd mini-season!

Today I’m excited to present two conversations with two great Yiddish singers, Shura Lipovsky and Josh Waletsky. Shura and Josh both compose new Yiddish songs and each in their own way, show off some of the best of what Yiddish song has to offer. We talk about European Judaism, communist summer camps, the early days of Kapelye, and writing new Yiddish songs. Really great stuff.


Shura: From her album Vaytinke
Dushinke Mayne

Di Tsayt

Josh: From his new album Pasazhirn/Passengers

The 99%

Gut Morgn

Huge thank you to everyone who’s listened and shared the previous episodes. You can find them here, or by scrolling down to earlier posts on this page.

Radiant Others CD and Digital Album Out Today!

Hi Everyone,

I’m writing to let you know that my newest album Radiant Others is out today!

Radiant Others is the first klezmer CD to feature the trombone as the main lead instrument and Featuring a set of original music and arrangements of traditional klezmer tunes that span the history of the tradition. On Radiant Others, my trombone is supported by the futuristic rhythmic accompaniment of guitarist Nick Millevoi (John Zorn, Desertion Trio, Many Arms), and a few guest appearances from Christopher McDonald (Cuddle Magic) on keyboards.

Radiant Others is available to purchase as a CD and digitally from Bandcamp

Rivki Silver from Hevira says about the album, “Blacksberg… brings a level of soul and depth of emotion that has made me view the trombone with a new level of respect. His expressive playing set within thoughtful and interesting arrangements takes classic pieces and gives them a fresh appeal.”

I hope that you’ll head over to Bandcamp and pick up a copy!

If you’re in Philadelphia or New York, I’ll be playing record release concerts soon featuring, me, Nick, and special guests!

October 22nd in Philadelphia at the Ethical Society

November 9th in Brooklyn as part of the New York Klezmer Series

And also, if you’re into podcasts, I’ve released 3 episodes so far of my Radiant Others Podcast. If you like great stories about playing klezmer and being a musician, I think you’ll like this. Listen here, or directly from the posts below.

I want to wish you all a Happy Fall, and an easy fast for Yom Kippur if you observe.

All the best,
Dan Blacksberg

Episode 3 – Zev Feldman

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Radiant Others: A Klezmer Music Podcast! Today on the podcast, historian, musicologist, tsimbalist, and Yiddish dancer, Zev Feldman.

Zev Feldman is one of the most central figures of the klezmer revival. He was instrumental in introducing the great clarinet virtuoso Dave Tarras to a wider audience and has released some of the most important recordings in klezmer.

Zev and I talk about his cosmopolitan upbringing, the history of klezmer music in Europe, and the place of klezmer artists in today’s world. I really enjoyed this conversation and learned a whole lot.

This does it for our 1st mini-season! We’ll be back in October with new episodes recorded live at this year’s Klezkanada.

Please rate and review this in iTunes or wherever you listen to it, and please share it with your friends. You can send me questions and feedback at dan@danblacksberg.com, @danblacksberg on twitter, or on Facebook.

Musical selections (and where to buy them):

Sher in A (1st), Shir Ha-malois (2nd), Alter Yiddish Tanz (4th) Suite in Am (final) from Khevrisa European Klezmer Music Smithsonian Folkways, 2000

Old Sher (3rd) and The Bride’s Waltz (5th) from Zev Feldman and Andy Statman Jewish Klezmer Music Shanachie, 1978

Extra: Andy Staman and Zev Feldman’s performance from the famous 1978 Concert: