Category Archives: Recording

Shabbat Sweet – Candle Lighting

An Interpretive Translation of the Prayer

Photo: Mackenzie Moers
Photo: Mackenzie Moers

You are blessed.

Drawing us close to your sacred presence,

you invite us to kindle the Shabbat lights.


 Join us November 7 at JRC or YouTube as Billy Kaplan & The Legendary Sweets Celebrate the release of the CD.

Click Here to order for pick up


It’s Shabbat tonight! Here’s something to get you ready…

I love to change the world,
But rarely appreciate things as they are.
I know how to give,
But I don’t always know how to receive.
I know how to keep busy,
But I don’t often listen.
I look, but I don’t often see.
I yearn to succeed,
But I often forget what is truly important.
Teach me, G-d, to slow down. May my resting revive me.
May it lead me to wisdom, to holiness
To Peace and to You.

(Rabbi Naomi Levy)

And remember, it’s just THREE WEEKS until we celebrate the release of the CD at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation on November 7 at 7:30 pm. Can’t make it to Evanston? The service will be streamed live HERE.

And remember, if you want to get one of the delightful CDs on November 7, you have to pre-order them HERE. CDs will not be sold the evening of the service to respect the Sabbath.


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).

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!

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 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.