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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yo Yo Yo

It's nice to be important, but it's important to be a mench. More on that later...

You may recall that I played a Shlock Rock concert last night. Well, you're in luck, because my nine-year-old daughter Iguana videotaped most of it for me! The camera work is a little shaky and there's a lot of fast zooming in an out. So it looks about on par with your average network reality show. But more importantly, the bass came out nice and clear. The Moshe Skier Band provided backup, and the show was tight.

Here's the first clip (don't worry, I'm not uploading the entire show). This is a rap song called Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke, from an album called Lenny and the Shlockers. 1990 I think. It's being performed here by Etan G. Etan joined the band after I left. I've performed with him over the years, but I can't say that I've ever had a chance to get to know him. He's one of those guys who seems to have an excess of personality. He's always on. He isn't someone who is like all "Yo wass up my homies, y'all are sooo fly!" on stage, and then all "I say, do you have any Evian water? That loquacious dialect has dehydrated my oral apparatus." Nope. It's all Etan, all the time.

Some people can groove wit dat, and some get put off by it. I think I was probably in the latter group for a while (yes, Etan, I'm an uptight White guy). But I need to give some props to my man Etan. He is a mench. If you've read Psychotoddler for a while, you know that is my highest form of praise. Why do I say that he is a mench? I'm sure people who know him better can come up with many reasons. I just know what I see. And what I see is beneath all the jive from the 'hood is a guy who cares. He cares about his family, he cares about his people, he cares about Jewish kids, and yes, he even cares about Lenny Solomon.

I don't know if he cares about me. But I do know that I've played with many, many musicians over the years, and he is one of the only people who has ever lifted a finger to help me with the most important part of the gig: The Shlepping. G-d how I HATE shlepping. Lifting and hoisting and carrying. Up the stairs. Through the house. Out to the van. Into the van. Out of the van. Into the building. Up to the stage. Then break it down again afterwards. Speakers and guitars and amps and poles and cords and junction boxes and music stands...listen, after a long gig, the last thing I want to be doing is carrying all that stuff down into the basement at 1 am. But usually I do it anyway. Sometimes with my kids. But often alone.

But Etan was there for me. After hopping his little butt around the stage for an hour and a half, he started winding up the cords, pulling down the speakers, and yes, he shlepped it all downstairs with me. Etan, you are a mench.

OK, back to Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke. I'm posting this one for two reasons.

1. Etan has a (rather lengthy) story in the middle that oddly enough echoes a sentiment that I've expressed here several times. When you wear the Yarmulke, you represent the Jewish people, and that puts a special obligation on you to behave.

2. Did I mention the band was tight. Ouch!

Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke - Shlock Rock with The Moshe Skier Band


torontopearl said...

Excellent band...felt I was right there in the audience with that videotape. You're a one-syllable man of many talents.

One question: "Yarmulke" is very much an American term; I've always said "kippah". Has a song like "C'mon, C'mon, Kippah" been written yet?

Ezzie said...

Great sound! Felt like a front row seat... with me head getting thrown around a bit. :) Not bad for a 9-year old, though.

Essie said...

Great job! Looks like it was fun.

gunny walker said...

Hey, I don't want to thread jack here, but have you heard of Indo Jew Bowl? It sounds pretty cool. Thought you could get more use out of the story than I could.

Ralphie said...

TP - I'm sure you know this, but as a service to other readers who might not, "Yarmulke" is a Yiddish term (pronounced something like "Yahm-uh-kuh"). As to which is more in use, I'd say Kippah, at least in my neck of the woods. When I do use the Yiddish term, I like to pronounce it "Yarm-ul-key," just fer laffs.

avi teitz said...

I know what you mean about the shlepping. A small gig for 100 8th graders turns into a van crammed to the gills with gear. Power amps, Main speakers (@60 lbs. each), monitor speakers, mikes, stands, the miles and miles of cabling. And the equipment seems to gain double its weight on the return trip home (before I get to the crucial "from the garage to the basement" trip that I'm usually too wiped to do the same day as a gig). And then there is mixing from the stage, with the help of knowledgeable ringers in the audience. And then performing.

I've had enough, and I'm selling a bunch of PA gear (I'm about half way through it) using ebay (for the valuable items), craigslist (for the small parts). I'm thinking of going to one of those BOSE PAS systems. I rarely play in front of more than 150 people, and even then, they don't want it too loud. Plus I don't ever want to set up in front of a cranked 20 watt amp in a basement ever again. I've been using a Vox tonelab SE, and its been the cats meow. I've had it over a year and I never use my amps anymore - not even a tweed champ (3 watts into an 8" speaker). Imagine a cranked amp sound at a level that doesn't hurt your ears.

As an aside, how many people were in attendance at the gig. I've seen Lenny play at my local day school, and he is one of the biggest draws on the Jewish circuit (not counting the shiny shoe stuff). Usually, Jewish rock tends to be poorly attended (or just the halls booked are to big). I heard that Yidstock this summer was a major disappointment, with a few hundred showing up for a concert thet expected thousands to attend. I've also played at gigs where no promotion was done, but a lot of money spent, and played in a magnificent 300 seat theater for 25 people.

Anonymous said...

Fun video, and good story. But I wish we got to see more of the band, especially the guitar player during the solo.

torontopearl said...

BTW, did you ever stop to think that "Yo" is just "Oy" spelled backwards?

Kiwi the Geek said...

Why on earth doesn't everybody in the band help shlep? Does all the equipment belong to you, and stay at your house?

When I was in HS youth group, everybody shlepped. Even if they never got on stage. If you were there 5 min early or late, you didn't just stand around.

Pragmatician said...

I once needed to give some information about someone for a Shidduch, the person asked ridiculous questions one after the other and I got tired. So i said listen he's a real 'mentch" and that is rare today.

PsychoToddler said...

Pearl: Yarmulke is American? I did not know that. Lenny is always looking for new material. You can email him at shlockrock.com.

Yo=oY. Yet another indication of the connection between Jews and Blacks.

Ezzie and Anonymous: I know, she didn't spend much time on Mendel or Me. What do you want? She's a freakin nine year old! I'm surprised she aimed anywhere NEAR the band.

Actually, I'm very impressed with her technique. She held the camera up non-stop for an hour, and generally followed the action on stage. She didn't start and stop every few seconds (a major issue I have with far older people who have videotaped my shows in the past). She did some nice pans and zooms (more evident on some of the other songs). But, yes, sometimes she's not sophisticated enough to know who's playing what.

essie: It was a lot of fun. BTW, even though she didn't catch much of Mendel during the solo, notice that the drummer has his eyes glued on him the whole time. It's nice when a professional player gets interested in what you're doing.

Gunny: Yammies and Swammies.

Ralphie: i think Lenny mentions all different terms in the song (check the lyrics).

Avi: "the equipment seems to gain double its weight on the return trip home "

That is so true, brother. I always loved Jackson Brown's Roadie song, because people really don't understand what it takes to put on a show. I often tell people that I get paid to roadie. I play for free.

I'm not sure how many people attended. Mrs. B. will have a better idea. I've played Shlock Rock shows with a couple thousand in attendance. But Milwaukee isn't that kind of town. In many respects.

Kiwi: "Why on earth doesn't everybody in the band help shlep?" Very good question. I used to get pissed when I'd be setting up a gig for an hour and a half, and in strolls some horn player carrying something the size of a briefcase, and I have to provide a mic and a stand for him, and he shows up 5 minutes before the gig, then leaves 5 minutes after the gig. With a check that is usually larger than mine.

Anyway, this is in no way unique to music. Life is full of people who work, and people won't.

Pragmatician: Yeah, don't get me started on shiduchim. But I will agree, mench is the bottom line for me. The rest is negotiable.

Shira Salamone said...

Loved Iguana's video! Are we going to get lucky and be able to see the rest of it on mosheskier.com, eventually? That would be really great, if you could arrange it.

Please give my compliments to the budding videographer.

PsychoToddler said...

That's a good idea, Shira, maybe I'll post a few more over at Mosheskier.com. I have a few songs that I sang, like Baruch Hashem and Ayzehu Chacham, that aren't availble as videos from other shows. And there are some cool shlock songs like Bench (Van Halen's Jump) that we played for the first time.

Yonah said...

You guys played "Bench??" Oh, c'mon PT - you gotta put this concert up on your other Website. Nothing like Lenny doing his David Lee Roth impression.

PsychoToddler said...

I know. I don't think we've EVER played bench in 20 years of Shlock Rock. I love that song.

Anonymous said...

How old is Eitan already, like 35? And he's still doing his black man routine?

Does he have a real job, and do his boses tolerate a middle age jewish man who thinks he's from the hood?

Etan G said...

Not only is Etan (spelled with no "I") 35 but fortunatley music IS my REAL job! No bosses. No one to answer to other than a client. Thankfully my attitude is such that it keeps me looking perpetually young (26 is the average answer) I've never thought i was from the hood just a guy who has several different cultures embedded in me. In the end, whatever "black man routine" you think i play It has allowed me an great career, earned the repsect of the black and non-jewish community (and of course many in the Jewish community - except you, i suspect) and has allowed me to connect with, associate with, do biz with and record with some of the biggest players in music in general and hip hop in specific (you can even see pics on my website) No matter, most entertainers have their "routine". What earns me the respect is that I'm real. I am what I am. I've made a career doing what i love. There can be no better type of career. But you can tell your boss how much you appreciate him/her. No need to be anonymous though. All the best, G

j said...

Yo and PT, isn't Bench from the Kesher days? It sounds so familar. Wow, I think I still have a couple of those old cassettes stored away somewhere.

Etan G...I gave your cd as a gift to my 11 yr old nephew who desperately wants to get to know his Jewish roots and he loved it. Thought it was very cool. His life is more redneck than hiphop, but he still got into it. Perhaps you can extend your repertoire to Country. Now that would be funny!

PsychoToddler said...

Bench was on the first Shlock Rock album. But I remember it as the first Shlock Rock song.

Before Shlock Rock, Lenny used to work for Jewish Public School Youth. He had an office at YU. I met him there one afternoon and he showed me a cassette that he and Tzvi Pill had recorded in Great Adventure, in that little shop where you could record yourself singing over some pre-recorded music, Karaoke style. The cassette was labeled "shlock rock", and had the song "bench" on it.

Kesher did do a country song, BTW, and we played it at this show. I had played it on bass 20 years ago when I was in Kesher, but not since. Lenny 'surprised' us on stage when he started playing it. I can't believe it, but I remembered the song and didn't miss too many notes! Shh...don't tell anyone, but here is the bootleg.

j said...

Ok..this is bothering me. I keep visualizing an image of one of the shlock rock album covers with a Sherlock Holmes theme? Is that right? Would that be the one with Bench on it? Boy am I dating myself.

PsychoToddler said...

Hmm...bootleg link got screwed up.

Try here.

PsychoToddler said...


You can see all the Shlock Rock albums here.

I think you're thinking of "Learning is Good".

Not sure about "Sherlock Holmes," but I think Yonah is wearing some kind of Inspector Clouseau hat in the back row.

Etan G said...

yo J yo J - thanks for your comments - i appreciate that - im glad your 11 yr old nephew dug it - they can be a tough market to reach so thanks for spreading the word - though country really isn't my bag - country OR western! Rap, Rock, Funk, Gospel and Disco are what connect with me and though i will admit Manillow, Air Supply and an assortment of other artists Im to embabrassed to name, i do listen to, i simply can't compose music in that vein - too mellow for me - im a high energy guy and on stage i wanna be able to be high energy, burn a few calories and really get into it - country wouldn't do that for me - with that said thanks again for passing on the album. My material is available on iTunes and all the other digital download services if ther is one or 2 particular songs one might be interested in - all the best G

j said...


LOL - you are right, that is the album. Funny what sticks out in one's memory. I was way off. Hopefully I'll never be a witness in a trial.