Category Archives: Performing

Shabbat Sweet in New Mexico, and Three New Videos

Yup, you heard it right.  This Friday, March 15, I will be sharing “A Shabbat Sweet” in Albuquerque, New Mexico at Congregation Albert!!! This will be my first time sharing the service outside of Chicagoland.  Wow am I excited and nervous!  And I’ll be flying solo! No back-up band.

And… here are three new videos. The first two are from “A Shabbat Sweet” at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) in Evanston, Illinois as I shared the service on January 11, 2013 with an amazing back-up band: Hannah Kaplan on vocals, Emma Chanen on vocals and ukulele,  Jim Cox on bass, Mike O’Mara on Keyboards, Dave Newman on drums and, yup, that twelve-year-old clarinet player, Jonah Karsh, is one amazing musician!!!!  I know, I know: it’s not the entire service.  I guess it’s time for me to invest in a new video recorder!!!!!!

The third video is from a service played by an Interfaith Youth Orchestra made up of teens from JRC and the Lake Street Church.  Yes, that IS my daughter as lead singer and band leader (not that I’m crazy proud!)!!!

And the Birdie Flies from the Nest

I guess there comes a time for every composer when you realize your music is no longer your own.

My time has come.

Last Sunday I rehearsed with an amazing group of teenage musicians – vocals, guitar, ukulele, piano, drums, clarinet and violin – on five of the pieces from “A Shabbat Sweet.” They are going to share their arrangement on March 1, 2013 at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) for an interfaith youth service.  About half the kids were from JRC and half were from the Lake Street Church.

And then the music happened… and I was NOT playing or singing.  It was a little difficult not leading the music. But the joy from just experiencing it was more than enough to get me through the difficulty.

Ok. I admit it. I was kvelling (Yiddish for bursting with pride) that music I wrote was being wonderfully interpreted by these young musicians.  As I am fond of saying here: WOW!

A Celebration and Fundraiser in One!!

Ok, so my family TOTALLY got me.

I thought I was going to a meeting to talk with other parents about purchasing sound equipment for my daughter’s singing group. But, no!  It was a surprise party for my upcoming 50th birthday.

I didn’t break down in tears when I first figured out it was a surprise party. I kept it together, greeted folks, and walked around in a daze. So many people I knew and loved so much. And then I saw that they had a donation box for everyone to contribute to “A Shabbat Sweet” instead of getting me presents (and they raised over $1,000!!!).

I didn’t break down in tears when members of my family, and my daughter’s singing group put on a show performing some of MY songs and some of their own.

I DID break down when they asked me to sing an original children’s song “This is my house.” It was the lyrics that got to me: “This is my house. This is where live. My family’s got a whole lot of love to give.” It was when I started singing, “my family’s got…” that I snorted, broke into tears and uncontrollable laughter at the same time.

Yup, I truly felt loved!!!

A lovely, amazing evening

Ok, I KNOW I need to get over it… that chill that runs up my spine, the butterfly-thrill the churns in my stomach when people sing along with the Shabbat music I wrote. But, come on, ya’ll, this is GOOD stuff.

So… about twenty of us gathered at a dear family’s home for dinner and to share in my Friday night Sabbath service, “A Shabbat Sweet.” The host family bid on the service as part of last year’s silent auction to raise money for the synagogue’s early childhood program.

As folks came into the home, I could see that we were a delightful mix of ages and family stages: families with young children, families whose children have left childhood behind for independent life, and families whose children are in college, that land between childhood and independence.

And then we finally were called to gather around the table in anticipation of bringing in Shabbat by lighting candles, saying blessing over wine and, literally, breaking bread by pulling apart the challah after blessing it.

After some words of introduction, I taught the group a very simple, highly repetitive niggun, a wordless melody. We split up into two “choirs,” each group singing just a slightly different phrase that harmonized with the other. And THAT’S when the chills really started: the energy, the power of twenty voices rising and joining together! And I thought: “This is it!  This is how the joy of being Jewish enters the soul and leaves its mark of delight.” And I wondered if this was a moment, perhaps THE moment, for some of these kids, when they first experienced the intimate intensity of Jewish prayer, like I experienced when I went to Jewish summer camp.

I can’t thank the hosts enough for the opportunity to experience “A Shabbat Sweet” in such a lovely, intimate setting.

Getting Ready, and Getting A Bonus

Tomorrow night, while the fall is creating lovely long shadows, I’ll be sharing “A Shabbat Sweet” in a family’s home. They’ll be having about 20 people over for dinner and the service.  And let me tell you, I am VERY excited about sharing the service with such a lovely family in such an intimate setting.

While I was practicing the service to sharpen up, I got two “bonuses”: first, the niggun (wordless melody) I’ve been working on, which I’m calling Beggar’s Niggun, took new shape: I found new and more interesting chords for the melody, and taking the suggestion from a dear friend, well, from Tracy Friend, I found a way to change the melody at the end in a way that holds the integrity of the niggun format while creating musical interest.

Second, as I was playing through V’Shamru, instead of just playing through the third stanza with my usual dissatisfied feeling, I let go and found new chords and a new melody for that stanza, kind of like a “bridge” in pop music.  I think the change really helps improve the song by adding new energy to the end of the piece.

Two New Videos for Your Viewing Pleasure!!

Here are two videos from a private performance on September 23, 2012 for the residents of the Barclay Condominium by me and Tracy Friend, who, because her mom and my dad are an “item,” make us brother and sister!!!  And let me tell you, the energy between us at this performance really solidified that sibling relationship!!!!

 

To view the other video, please click HERE.

A Shabbat Sweet in Your Home

I made arrangements, recently, to share “A Shabbat Sweet” with a family in their home in a private service.

I am very excited about this idea of sharing the service on such an intimate basis.  I think we’ll really be able to connect and build a great sense of community.

And… I love the idea that families like this one can gather in homes with loved ones and friends, start Shabbat by bringing soulful music into their their lives AND help me to raise funds to record the service.

If you would like the service in your home, I would love to talk with you about it.  Please e-mail me: billy@hcbh.com.

A Wonderful “Beach” Service Last Night

Well, it wasn’t exactly on the beach, since it was over 100 in shade outside.

Instead, we brought “A Shabbat Sweet” inside the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation. First, we sat together and had “picnic” dinners while listening to the Beach Boys (just to keep that beach-y feel).  It was lovely to meet new people and reconnect with old friends.  And sharing food is just always yummy!  I really enjoyed another family’s fruit salad, and lots of kids enjoyed our pizza!  (And their parents were glad they ate something.)

Then, Cantor Howard Friedland, myself, Hannah Kaplan, Rena Newman and Dave Newman shared “A Shabbat Sweet” with members of the congregation and a wonderful family who was also there to name their sweet new baby.  It was so moving to hear her parents describe how her name connected to loved ones from their family.

For me, getting to to bring the service from my basement to the sanctuary of such a thriving, welcoming community would have been enough.  But to also experience the congregation singing along was just incredibly powerful.  As I’ve said before: wow!!!

NEW LOCATION: For “A Shabbat Sweet” on July 6, 2012

Yes, some of you die-hards may think it is a bit wimpy, but the location for “A Shabbat Sweet” has been moved for tomorrow, July 6.

The service will still be at 7:00 pm (byo dairy dinner at 6:00).  But it has been moved from the beach, where they are predicting it will be over 100, to the cool, air-conditioned confines of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) because… well, health and safety first!!!

So, to be clear, we’ll move from experiencing  “A Shabbat Sweet” like this:

To experiencing it kind of like this inside JRC at 303 Dodge in Evanston.

Click HERE for directions and… see you then!!!!

“A Shabbat Sweet” on the Beach!!!!

Now doesn’t that sound great?  Can’t you just imagine the rhythm section of the waves breaking on the beach, joined by the leaves in the trees as the symphony, and the voices of the community gathered in song?

If this sounds good to you, then come on out on July 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm to join me and Howard Friedland, the cantor of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (and maybe the Sweet Sisters?).  Come at 6:00 pm with you own food to join in the eating festivities.  Click HERE for more details.  Ah… shabbat on the beach!!!  Sounds like a peach of an idea!!!