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So I’m sitting here in the B and B hotel in Lille with Kevin watching a heavy metal music video in which the screaming vocalist is belting “America! America!” while pictures of war and death and consumerism and dirt flash by the screen.  Yikes.  

It isn’t the most perfect place in the world, but I do miss out cozy apartment in Prospect Heights.  All this driving, hotel, gig and repeat is very taxing on the body, mind and soul, though it is also fun and exciting in it’s own way.  It has been incredible meeting people from all over the country here and gaining different perspectives on life, music, food and anything else we might discuss.

Right now, we’re in Lille, north of France, after playing a gig at the University here.  Jeremy left on Friday, but we are continuing on for two more shows without him.  We stayed in Lille for Shabbat.  Luckily, I found out that the shul and Jewish community here was only a 15 minute walk from our hotel so I was able to coordinate with the Rabbi there to go to services and eat meals with him.  

When I first stepped inside the shul I was stunned.  it was a mammoth structure from the mid 1800s with beautiful stained glass, ornate wooden seats and an Aron Kodesh that was simply stunning.  It was truly a synagogue that only could have been designed 150 years ago.  While I didn’t understand most of what people said, the davening was very nice and the community very warm.  For dinner, I went with two other guests, an Israeli computer engineer in Lille on business and a Parisian businessman who wasn’t able to make it back home before Shabbat, to Rabbi Dahan’s.  The Rabbi is Lubavitch, and I think he began working at the shul around 20 years ago.  The dinner was extremely lovely, and the communication was fascinating as we were switching between French, English and Hebrew for most of the meal.

The following day, I went back to the shul and they had a lunch kiddush where the whole congregation stayed after services to eat.  The food was very different in some ways to what one might find at a new york kiddush, but the herring and cholent were still there, and that’s really what ties us all together, right?

That evening, we played the show at a small theater in the University, a venue they call L’Antre Deux.  Being our first show as a trio, certain things we different, but felt really great nonetheless.  I think a lot of the audience was a little surprised at the show, as a number of people from the shul had come, perhaps expecting something more traditional.  But it was a really nice change from the clubs we were playing, and I’m very happy we got to play there.

Now, it’s 2am (really 1am, as the clocks are changing) and we get on the road at 9am for our final show in V’al D’ajol.  For this show, Yves Weyh, accordion player from the band Zakarya is going to play with us as Jeremy’s sub.  Can’t wait to hear what that sounds like!

Bonsoir!

yoshie and pitom

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Wow.  France is an incredible country.  and beautiful.  I havent really been able to spend much time in any one place, but driving through the countryside has been amazing.  Vineyards, cornfields, cows, trees…everything quite beautiful.

 

I had an amazing Shabbat.  David Konopnicki, who set up our show in Clamart, graciously agreed to set me up at his parents for Shabbat. His family is not observant, he told me, but his mother would be excited to make friday night dinner a have a feast.  David took me over there after the guys settled in to the hotel and I was greeted by David’s father and sisters.  One by one, people started to come over.  Friends of every family member were all represented, and mulitnational…a French/Congolese man, Taiwanese woman, a west Indian woman, even my ashkenazic jewish American self.  It was a really great time, and the kosher food she provided was amazing.  After dinner, I went and passed out for 11 hours after a long week.

Saturday night we met up with Zakarya our partnering band for the evening at the Henri Deutilleux Conservatory in Clamart ( a suburb of Paris).  It was great to finally meet them!  A Tzadik band with a somewhat similar aesthetic to us, we had a really good time, playing and hanging with them.  After the rock clubs we had been playing, it was nice to have good sound reinforcement and space to move around…although there is definitely something to being crowded into a room with a bunch of random people to share your music.

After Clamart, we headed down to Pau in the south near Spain…more on that soon!

Como se va!

Just got back to the hotel from our third show of the tour in Montpillier.  The club was this totally random and hidden place called (appropriately) Le Secret Place.  Seriously, this felt like those industrial backroads behind suburban business districts, and you go down this alleyway to come to the club.  The sign for it is spray painted on the wall, so if you miss it, you’re out of luck.

Funny part is, it actually turned out to be a pretty cool club.  We had these kinda ghetto trailers out back for the bands, loaded up with beer, snacks, and other fine delights (even crunchy worm shaped items not unlike Israeli Bamba).  Inside, it looked like a warehouse room, though not very big.  A lot of concrete, and a simple stage in the corner.

As we were waiting for our set, a woman from the club came in to interview me for a radio show that she worked for.  After setting up her recording device, she asked me the usual opening questions, about our name, and description.  then she followed up with a question that didn’t quite make sense at the start.  After looking at her notes, I realized (sort of) that she wanted to know how I felt about portraying Jewish themes in France, where Israel is very controversial. Needless to say, I was surprised by this, and told her that we are just here to play music, and speak in that language.  I’m sure everyone has their own different opinion, I said, but I think music goes much deeper than politics, and no matter what you believe, we can all communicate with it.

Finally, after Evil Country Jack (a very loud poppy metal band) were done, we took the stage.  So far, some part of my gear has failed me on this tour.  First it was my amp, then my pedal board, then my strings.  Tonight, in the middle of the first song, one of my distortion pedals basically smashed under my foot.  Kind’ve odd, considering that’s what they’re made to have done to them.  Anyway, it didn’t really matter, we played a killin set, and everyone there was totally vibing with us.  I’m lovin’ Kevin Zubek, our drummer on the rock and roll, and the band is getting tighter.

Tomorrow, we head back to Paris to play in the Henri Deutilleux Conservatory in Clamart (just outside of Paris).  Our friend David Konopnicki, who lives there, set up the show, and I’m going to crash with him for Shabbat.  Looking forward to resting a bit, as it’s going to be an 8 hr. trip back and it’s been a long week.  But also looking forward to this show, which will also be with Tzadik band Zakarya, who are really great.

Thanks for reading, i’ll check back in with more very soon.

Bonsoir!

yoshie’ and Pitom

So this is our blog from France.  I’m writing from Mayliss’s apartment in Toulouse, she is one of the folks from Jerkov Musiques that brought us here.  We just played a show on a freakin’ boat club, like actually on a boat, like Andy Samberg (I’m on a Boat..check it out you won’t be sorry)…totally crazy, and great crowd.  I broke 3 strings in one gig which I think is a record.   We will be in France for another week and a half, come check in and see what we’re up to…I hope to get some video up soon.  Bonsoir from Toulouse!

Wow.  First blog post. ever.  This is kind of fun. so far.

So we are getting into crunch time for this tour in France that we are doing.  Everything seems to be falling into place, and my to do list items are quickly getting crossed off.  I did some electronic guitar pedal adaptor research today and went to radio shack to outfit my pedal train and digitech whammy pedal with their appropriate wattage converters.  I also recently spent a lot of time consolidating all of our music down to 1 page charts…something I should have done a long long time ago.  By now, we’re barely even using the music, but it still feels great to have everything clean and tidy.

I also got a Lonely Planet France…I had to…those books are actually great for finding all the right stuff to check out.  We’ll be spending a lot of tine in our van (over 40 hrs. I think) but when we have a few hours to hang out in a city, I want to make the best use of our time.

I’m really excited to have a bunch of shows to really develop some of the new music that we have happening.  There’s really no better way to turn song concepts into actual songs than to play them all a bunch of times in a row.

Anyway, these are my immediate thoughts for my first blog post.

Au revoir, merci beaucoup

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