Heartland Klezmorim Brings Klezmer Music and American Experience to the Ten Pound Fiddle

You are on eastlansinginfo.org, ELi's old domain, which is now an archive of news (as of early April, 2020). If you are looking for the latest news, go to eastlansinginfo.news and update your bookmarks accordingly!


Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 9:30 am
Christopher A. Wardell

Trumpeter David Klein wants to share the wonders and joy of traditional Klezmer music with the world.

With the help of his band, the Heartland Klezmorim, and the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert Series, he will get the chance to do just that.

The Heartland Klezmorim will perform as part of Ten Pound’s “The American Experience: The Musical Journey from The Shtetl,” 7:30 p.m. January 18 at the MSU Community Music School.

Then, on January 25, Matt Watroba and the Rev. Robert Jones will present the second part of the two-part “The American Experience” series, “The American Experience: From Roots to Rap, A Musical Celebration of History and Diversity.”

The Heartland Klezmorim performance will be more of a history lesson than a typical concert. The septet will take listeners on a narrated musical adventure that begins in Eastern Europe, continues through world historical events, and ends with emigration to the United States.

The show traces the path of Jewish emigration through klezmer music. Klezmer is a Hebrew word, a combination of the words "kley" (vessel) and "zemer" (melody) that referred to musical instruments in ancient times. Working under various restrictions in different centuries and cultures, Jewish musicians (klezmorim) developed their own unique style.

The genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations, played by professional klezmorim in ensembles known as “kapelye.”

“Yiddish is a language that was developed around a thousand years ago by Jews in most likely, a part of Germany. When written, it looks like Hebrew, but can sound like many languages,” Klein said. “With the development of Yiddish came literature, theater, dance, art, and of course, music. As the people that spoke the language moved around, the culture began to grow.” The music was originally played mostly on string instruments, but starting in the 1800’s other instruments began to be added. “When Jews came to this country,” Klein added “they fell in love with jazz and slowly began to combine it with klezmer.”

The Heartland Klezmorim features some of Lansing’s best-known musicians including Andy Callis on accordion, Susanne Garber on violin, Ben Godoshian on percussion, Chris Hamilton on the bass guitar, Drew Howard on the banjo, Klein on the trumpet and Will Metz on the saxophone.

For the American Experience show, special guest Doug Berch will join the group on hammer dulcimer.

Heartland Klezmorim have been performing together since 2006 when both Klein and Garber realized there were others in the area who had a passion for Klezmer music before. According to Klein, it just seemed natural for everyone to join forces and form one group dedicated to this special style of music.

“We discovered there were others in the Lansing area that had done a little playing of klezmer with Drew and Will,” Klein said. “In August of 2006, we began to ask around to see who might be interested. Drew joined us from the beginning and Will joined us a few years later. Others at the beginning included percussionist Ben, accordion player Dan Sutton, and bassist Joe Bakaitis. Joe had to leave us after our first gig and Dan left us the next year. Chris replaced Joe and we were a quintet on and off for a while. When we started to play vaudeville, saxophonist Will Metz and accordion player Andy Callis were added to augment the group and they stayed.”

The group regularly performs at such venues as the Capital City Film Festival, bar and bat mitzvahs, and vaudeville shows with their blend of Yiddish klezmer and jazz interpretations of klezmer. For Klein, the chance not only to perform a concert but to present an entire experience at the Ten Pound Fiddle was too good to pass up.

“Sally [Potter] came up with the idea and pitched it to Sue and me. It’s a unique idea for a wonderful set of concerts the Ten Pound Fiddle is presenting this season. It’s not just going to be some tunes and some spoken word, there is a lot more to the journey,” Klein said. “Art, theater, dance, and food are going to be part of the show.”

Sally Potter, concert booker for the Ten Pound Fiddle, is excited for both of The American Experience shows.

“The Fiddle packaged these back-to-back January shows to highlight the tremendous influence folk music has in telling America's collective story,” Potter said. “We are very excited to present these two fine evenings of exquisite and influential music.”

During the show, Klein said audience members are encouraged to take part and ask questions. He’s hoping everyone walks away from the show more informed and interested in the music, as well as the Jewish experience of immigrating to America.

He’s happy to take questions, but hopes the music does most of the talking.

“Every klezmer band has its own repertoire to help talk about the journey and experience as Jews arrived in America,” Klein said. “There are many different avenues we can take in talking about the Jewish migration. Through music, you are able to trace a history very easily. Music contains so much historical information, we really don’t need to do much talking. I’m taking a big cue from jazz musician Sun Ra, who I saw four times in concert. A Sun Ra concert was a history lesson. It was always very inspiring.”

Doors open at 6:30 PM and tickets are $20 for the public, $18 for Fiddle Members and $5 for students. More information is available here.








eastlansinginfo.org © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info