All posts by billykaplanmusic

Final Vocal Recording

Last night I went into the studio with the “Sweet Sisters” – Rena Newman, Emma Chanen, and my eldest daughter, Hannah Kaplan. And as an incredibly special treat, my youngest daughter, Ruthie, also sang on the piece!

SweetSisters20140805The Sweet Sisters sang have been singing with me since the first time I shared Shabbat Sweet in 2011, so it was particularly delightful to have them be the last voices is session for the recording of Shabbat Sweet.

They recorded lovely three-part harmony for Shalom Rav. Have a listen to this rough mix (and keep in mind there will still be a bass and piano part added; and there will be a piano solo by Steve Rashid in the currently “empty” section).

My last time?

I’m getting ready to head into the studio to record vocals for three pieces. If all goes well, this may be my last time recording in the studio on this project to record Shabbat Sweet. There are still other sessions scheduled to record other players; just not me.


So I’m a bit melancholy. I’ll be okay; just sayin.

We’ve Started Recording the Final Pieces

Steve Rashid and I started recording the final pieces for Shabbat Sweet on Monday, May 19.

I’m relieved and a little sad that the recording process is coming to a close (hopefully by the end of the summer).  Relieved because I’ve been working on this project, including the Kickstarter campaign, for over a year. And while it’s a joy, it’s also work and takes lots of my energy and attention! Sad because it’s been a profoundly great joy! It’s fascinating to start with an idea of how something will sound, and then to see how it evolves.

For instance, Beggar’s Niggun is one of the pieces we’re working on. And while Steve and I sat down beforehand to talk about a plan for arranging it, now that I hear the rough, I’ve got a whole new idea. (boy, is Steve going to be thrilled with that!).

So… thanks for hanging in there with me throughout the project.

I’ll be playing live in several places in the next few months. Please check the DATES page on my website so that you can plan I time to come out and experience Shabbat Sweet live!

The Kickstarter Campaign was a Year Ago?

Listen to all of the current, completed eight tracks if you are a backer, or would like to become one (see below)

Just about a year ago I pressed a button and started an insane, vulnerable, incredibly-intense month. I launched the Kickstarter campaign to record Shabbat Sweet, the music and melodies I wrote for Erev Shabbat, the Friday night Sabbath Service. I don’t know if I’d ever worked harder, had more emotional turbulence, or gambled more than I did that month. It was exhausting, stimulating, engaging, frightening and looooooooong. Every day, nearly every moment, I thought about how to reach out to others and share my vision, and how to get them to back the project without sounding like I was begging (though I always felt like I was).

By the end of the month almost 200 dear, wonderful, generous, fellow-insane people became supporters of the project, and the process of recording the service began.

Now it’s a year later, and we’ve completed two-thirds of the recording. I had imagined the recording would be finished by now, and that I’d franticly be putting the final touches on the production of the physical CD. And, as I should have figured, my imagination was in over-achievement mode.

I found that I had to maintain a balance among the many things I love – my family, my work, my music, my friends and my self – so that none of them suffered greatly while I invested time and energy in any one of them.

So I appreciate the patience of my beloved backers as the final pieces get recorded by the middle of the summer, if all goes as planned. We’re going to take the time we need to take get the recording right. We want to create the best sounding, most interesting and delightfully pleasing recording of Shabbat Sweet we possibly can make.

I can’t thank all the backers of the project enough for your generosity and patience as we plod on. I imagine it’s been difficult for your wait, as well. So as an early gift, I’ve created a “Shabbat Sweet Eight Track” page on the website where you can stream and listen to all eight tracks now! Just click HERE and use same password you use to hear the audio updates. Email me ( if you want your memory refreshed. And if you’d like to listen to the current completed tracks, and are not already a backer, click HERE to donate to the project ($10 minimum) and I will be glad to email you the password. We already plan to record about four more prayers, but there are even four more we could record if we had more funding. Just sayin’!

[By the way, I’ll be performing at the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival on Sunday, June 8 at 4:00 on the Polk Brothers’ Family Stage]

It May be Purim, But I Ain’t Jokin’!

Me with my dear friend and Rabbi, Brant Rosen. He's such a clown!
Me with my dear friend and Rabbi, Brant Rosen. He’s such a clown! Sorry you can’t see my Queen Esther skirt!

Purim is a great time for playing around and having fun. Heck, there might even be some pictures out there of me dressed as Queen Esther!

Nevertheless, I am quite serious when I say that tomorrow night we’ll complete the process for phase 2 of recording Shabbat Sweet when we add the harmony vocals to V’Shamru and Adon Olam. Then it will be on to mixing that set of four prayers.

THEN… we’ll start recording the last four: 1) Beggar’s Niggun, 2) Amidah, 3)Shalom Rav and 4) Hashkivenu.

I know, I know: for those of you who have experienced Shabbat Sweet live, you may be thinking, hey, aren’t there other prayers that won’t be included in the recording? And, sadly, that is true. Heck, I even wrote a new melody of Ahavat Olam this past year!!!

The reality is we’ll record everything that the generosity of the amazing Kickstarter backers will allow. I am extremely proud of what we’ve done, and I’m sure the same will be said of what we’ll do. And it’s been a costly adventure to make such a recording of this high quality. I’m sure we’ll get the rest of the Sweet recorded with the next album!!!!

Shabbat Shalom, and What a Couple of Days We Have Ahead!!

While last weekend I spent the weekend with several dozen teenagers on a retreat, and I joyfully got to share several prayers from Shabbat Sweet with them, this Shabbat will be much quieter at home with my family. May yours be sweet!!!!

And then Saturday night I’ll be competing in the first ever Battle of the Jewish Bands at the Meyer Kaplan JCC on Saturday night. Come check it out and cheer us on! I’ll be playing with two of three of the Sweet Sisters, Mike O’Mara on Keyboards, Dave Newman on drums/percussion, Robert Castillo on bass (he’s new with us!), and Jonah Karsh on clarinet!

Sunday night, my daughter, Hannah, and my “other daughter”, Emma, will go into the studio to record tracks with the current four tunes.

Monday night, Alex Koffman and Don Jacobs, from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, along with Jonah Karsh on clarinet, will be recording tracks on those four prayers.

And then… I think all the tracks for the current recording will be in place, and we’ll be going to final mix!!! Very exciting!!!!

A Great Day!!

I had two rehearsals today to get ready for the Jewish Battle of the Bands on February 22, 2014 at the Meyer Kaplan JCC.

First, I met this morning with two of the three “Sweet Sisters,” and Jonah Karsh on clarinet. We practiced the three tunes for the performance on the 22nd, and we played around with tunes we’ll be recording. It was so nice to have my house filled with music.

Then, this evening, I met with the rhythm section that will be playing with us on the 22nd: Mike O’Mara on Keyboards, Dave Newman on Drums, and Robert Castillo on upright bass. We got into a quick, wonderful groove at Dave’s house! Thanks, Dave!

And what about tomorrow, you ask? Nothing much… I’m just going to record the lead vocals for the current pieces! Stay tuned!