All posts by billykaplanmusic

A Musical Leap of Faith

One of my dear friends asked me what I was doing this weekend. I thought about it for just a moment, and the answer was simple: practicing.

You see, on Monday, I’m going to record the baritone ukulele parts for the current set of recordings for Shabbat Sweet. Yes, I’m excited (as I always say), and nervous (I think I say that a lot, too!).

When I started practicing along with the current tracks, over winter break, I was just trying to play cleanly, using the same approach to each piece I’d always taken. I did some “demo” recording on my phone, thanks to a simple and amazing multi-track recording program (thanks, Android!). And I didn’t like what I heard.

With the rhythm section we recorded, the playing I’d always been doing didn’t seem to add anything. So I took a Kierkegaardian leap-of-faith, and just started TRYING different rhythms and approaches. Like an actor trying different accents and emotions with the same words.

And I think I’ve come up with uke parts that make an interesting contribution to the recording. It’s been a musical stretch for me, and I’ve loved the challenge. I played one of the parts for my wife last night, and her response was just what I had hoped for – and she’s my best, and most honest critic!

Stay tuned!!!! And Shabbat Shalom.

A Hanuka Present!!!


Since Hanuka is tonight I want to give you a present… MY MUSIC! Throughout Hanuka, I want you should enjoy the music I’ve recorded so far.

So… have a listen by clicking HERE!

First Four Recordings … Done. Next Ones Start Tomorrow

a taste of shabbat sweet cover

Hungry for some new Jewish music?

Well, I want you should have “a taste of Shabbat Sweet,” the new EP of the first four recordings from Shabbat Sweet.  Have a nosh (a taste) and buy your copy at CDBaby and Facebook! Very soon you’ll be able to download them from iTunes, Amazon and Google Play! I’ll let you know when that happens.

Also, tomorrow I FINALLY go back to the studio to start recording the next four pieces: the Candle Lighting, V’Shamru, Oseh Shalom and Adon Olam. I’ll be practicing this afternoon, getting the tempos, remembering where we’ll have instrumental solos, etc.

And since Hanuka is coming, I thought I’d share with you a video of one of my Hanuka songs from my CD called “Dradle ‘Round the Tree.” Enjoy!

End-of-summer update

It’s been a while since I’ve updated because… well… it’s been summer and we honestly haven’t done much the last several weeks due to vacations!

However, we are scheduled to go into the studio tomorrow to record keyboards and accordion on two pieces, and the violin and clarinet parts on all three! Then, we’ll just need one more round of recording with my daughter, Hannah, singing additional back-up vocals and me finalizing my vocals. Then, we’ll do a final mix of those three before starting on the next set!

Beach Service 20130823
Photo by Carolyn Shapiro (thanks!)

AND… in case you missed it, I shared Shabbat Sweet on an Evanston beach this past Friday, August 23 with my beloved rabbi, Brant Rosen, beloved cantor, Howard Friedland. And the incomparable Jonah Karsh on clarinet.

First Day in the Studio

Playing Leha Dodi

So, I show up in the studio to work on recording the “scratch” tracks for the first three pieces of Shabbat Sweet, and staring directly at me is none other than John, Paul, George and Ringo, from a picture on the wall. No. No pressure!!!

Truth is, I really didn’t feel much pressure. I couldn’t ask to work with a nicer guy in the form of a producer.  Steve Rashid is just a delight to work with. He put me completely at ease.

As I said, we worked on the scratch tracks for the project. Both vocals and baritone ukulele, as you can see in the picture.  These tracks are really intended just to mark the shape of prayers so that the other musicians can play in. I’ll re-record both the vocals and ukulele after the other musicians have done their thing.

And did I mention that the cool microphone I’m singing into is the same kind of mic that Michael Jackson used to record “Thriller?” I don’t think there are any other associations there, but I’m sure someone out there has a wise-crack to make about it!!!!

Next up: we’ll be adding accordion to Leha Dodi. Maybe even tomorrow!! Stay tuned!

The Recording Starts July 1


The space in between.

Between the intensity of Kickstarter and the process of recording.

It’s been a strange twilight

And the waiting finally comes to an end this Monday, July 1, when I go into the studio with Steve Rashid and start recording. We’ve decided on the first pieces to record:

  1. Shalom Aleichem
  2. Lecha Dodi
  3. Mi Chamocha

The way we settled on recording will be for me to lay down “scratch” vocals and baritone ukulele parts first. Then we’ll have the rhythm section come in and record. Then other instruments, followed by final ukulele and vocals and harmonies.

Thank you for your patience as I recovered from the month of Kickstarter and planned the start of the recording.  For those who pledged at the $54 or higher level, I’ll get the audio updates going very quickly. Stay tuned.

The Kickstarter Campaign Succeeded!

Hours before the deadline (around 2:30 pm, but who was counting?), the Kickstarter campaign succeeded to raise the funds to record Shabbat Sweet with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band produced by Steve Rashid, the Emmy-award winning composer, producer and arranger.

Thank you to everyone who supported this project.

Lessons learned:

  1. When anxiety is your Achilles’ Heel, proceed with running a month-long campaign to raise $15,000 VERY cautiously.
  2. When you’re running a month-long campaign to raise $!5,000, work REAL HARD to ignore those doubts and worries and negative messages running through your head.
  3. When you’re a Kickstarter campaign, DO trust your family, friends and gracious strangers; they’ll do amazing things and come through for you.

So… I’m exhausted. And I’m already moving forward: I’ve already written Steve Rashid to set up a meeting to plan the recording process.

Again and again: I am immensely humbled by your support and generosity!!  This is going to be an amazing recording!!!!

Stay tuned for periodic updates here, and if you were backed the project, in email from Kickstarter.

Lori Lippitz & Shabbat Sweet

Lori Lippitz Quote 2

Click here to listen to the first recording from the forthcoming album

A New Video Just in Time for Shabbat

Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, will be here in a few hours.  It can be a blessed rest, a break from the mundane pressures of work.

We declare a Sabbath, a space of quiet: for simple being and letting be; for recovering the great forgotten truths; for learning how to live again.

UN Environmental Sabbath Program
Reprinted  in Service for Shabbat Evening
Edited by Rabbi Brant Rosen

We Jews usher in Shabbat by lighting candles which illuminate our path to Shabbat Shalom, the Sabbath Peace.

In this video, after I talk a bit about my first experience sharing Shabbat Sweet with my community, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois, I play and sing the melody I wrote for the Candle Blessings.

May it guide you, and those you know and love, toward a peaceful mind this Shabbat.

Please become a backer of my project to make a quality recording of this service!!
Please become a backer of the project to make a quality recording of this service with members of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and an Emmy-award winning producer, composer and arranger.