What is it about Yiddish... ? BLOG February 29, 2012

February 29th, 2012: the last moments of an extra day...leap year!

This has been a crazy month. Maybe even more than usual. The last four years or so it seems that life is getting more frantic every day. February was supposed to be relaxed, working towards a new recording, new projects. Instead, it was a mad rush to keep up. I had to go to Europe unexpectedly, to attend to some pressing family matters, and came back with a dreadful stomach sickness of some kind, I believe an epidemic that many had over there, and it seems even here in Canada. That threw my timing really off, and I never managed to catch up.

Despite of that, Fray had a beautiful experience traveling to the Chutzpah! festival in Vancouver. First of all, it is a magnificent festival, with the best leadership an artist could wish; secondly, it is in my beloved Vancouver where I can just move in to my childhood best friend's condo and feel like I have never left; and finally, the band and I spent a day like a dream at another good friend's amazing house and I thought I was in heaven. Imagine: a charming house on the hill, overlooking the water, with the mountains on the other side; and there we are, 7 musicians, learning each other's music and creating our own kind of beauty. All day, with great food to sustain us in between songs, with my friends providing us their warmth and hospitality. I am trying to figure out how I can return the favour!

But the main topic of this blog is actually Yiddish. I am having some trouble understanding how this works. I certainly don't like how it works, and am trying my best to change that. Most Jewish people think that Yiddish is useless, the old language somebody's East European grandparents probably spoke; it is the language of nostalgia, of the more or less (usually more) painful past. Elderly Jewish audience will request old songs they still remember singing; one generation younger will ask for songs they may recall from their early youth; and the still younger generations will not care to hear Yiddish at all, as they don't understand it, and deem it the language of the elderly members of their families. Why would you choose such a difficult, narrow medium for your music? Such a limited market? - asked the only Jewish patron at a recent concert. This is where I get lost. Why would young Jewish audience have an issue listening to my new, original Yiddish song set to Middle Eastern rhythm, when they have no problem listening to a song from Africa, South America- where a foreign language seems to be of no concern. It pains me a little bit that a non-Jewish audience may actually be more accepting of the new Yiddish music that I am offering, than Jewish. Ideally, I would like this music to be accepted by everyone, as just another "world music", something different and interesting, which may initiate in some people the desire to learn more, to see where this came from, and to discover the riches of Yiddish culture. This is an intriguing challenge, and I am hopeful.

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