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Thursday, June 22, 2006

It Feels Like the First Time


photo by Gregory Titievsky

The Band is unbelievably excited about our upcoming gig at Milwaukee's Summerfest, the World's Largest Music Festival, on July 5, 2006, at 12 noon. We will be playing on the Classic Rock Stage, a few hours before headliner Foreigner takes the same stage. Wow.



Now, we don't expect to be able to fill even the smallest fraction of the venue, especially not on a Wednesday afternoon. Just playing the festival is exciting enough for us. Playing on the same stage as Foreigner makes it exponentially more exciting for me, since that band was a huge influence on me when I was developing my musical style. (Listen to Barchi Nafshi or Aniyah and you'll be able to hear it).

What's interesting is that despite living in Milwaukee for 15 years, I've never felt the urge to play or even attend Summerfest. I thought, "Why would a predominantly non-Jewish audience want to hear us play Chassidic Rock (Mendel's unbelievable guitar chops notwithstanding)?" Credit a certain Chassidic Reggae Superstar for showing me the light.

So what will the speakers be blaring? A really tight mix of Diaspora Yeshiva Band, Piamenta (oh yeah), Aron Razel, Shlock Rock (Clapton and Setzer covers), Kabbalah and of course Moshe Skier Band originals. We've been rehearsing once or twice weekly, which, given my very tight minyan schedule, has been tricky, but thanks to our very understanding drummer (who has to shlep an hour each way just to rehearse), I haven't missed a Kaddish.

Which brings me to the really weird part of this whole thing, and that is that I am still very much in mourning for my Father. So much so that I don't listen to music for pleasure now. I listen to Right Wing talk radio (WIND out of Chicago). Or rather I listen to commercials punctuated by the occasional 2 or 3 minute Right Wing Rant/Abusive Phone Call. But that's a subject for another post.

So it took a little soul-searching for me to figure out what I want to do about my music. Of course, anyone who makes a living playing music is allowed to continue during mourning. You are not required to lose your job when you lose a parent. Professional musicians are even allowed to practice as much as necessary to keep up their skills. The question is, am I a professional musician?

I've been playing music in bands non-stop since I was seventeen. I've never played less than 3-4 gigs a year, even when I first moved out here and was a medical intern. More recently it's been more like an average of 1-2 gigs per month. So while I don't rely on music for my livelihood, I do make a significant amount of money performing (so much so that it has tax implications), and more importantly, music is a very big part of WHO I AM. I have defined myself as a musician for a lot longer than I have defined myself as a doctor, father, husband, or a blogger. I don't think I could give that up for a year.

The only thing I've been longer than a musician has been a son. So the issue for me is what would my Father have wanted me to do? He encouraged me learn the guitar, he bought me my first microphone (I still have that feedback-prone Shure mic), and he generously lent me his car as I stuffed it with amps, guitars, and teenage musicians and drove to far-off places to play. So I think he'd be OK with this.

And the Rabbi said it's OK as long as I get paid, so...get ready for some hot-blooded-double-vision as the Jukebox Hero takes the stage July 5th!

30 comments:

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

That is so terrific. It will be a blast from the past. Good luck. Can't wait to hear.

torontopearl said...

Good for you, Mark...doing something you love, doing something your father encouraged, and doing something that makes many people happy.

I'm glad you are able to keep up with the music even in your year of mourning.

Max Power said...

Of course the one year I can't make it to summerfest, you guys play. Well, good luck.

A Simple Jew said...

Great news! I second Pearl's sentiment.

Ralphie said...

Sounds awesome. Wish I could come. How'd you get the gig?

...and any chance we'll get a bootleg MP3?

Albert said...

Bootleg MP3? I want bootleg video!

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Wow! That's awsome you are perfoming on the same stage as foreigner, that's insane! Good luck I'm sure you guys will bring the house down.

PsychoToddler said...

I want a bootleg video too! In fact, if anyone can come and videotape us, let me know. If I can get some good footage, I will be happy to post it (if it doesn't suck...well that's never stopped me before).

orieyenta said...

How awesome for you! I better not let Little Orieyenta know or soon she'll be asking where Wisconsin is! I'm sure you guys will ROCK (pun intended!)

tuesdaywishes said...

Summerfest?! That is so far beyond awesome, I have no words for it. You will definitely have them dancing in the aisles, especially the folks who have no idea what you're singing about. (Will the frummies show up for this? I mean, Summerfest doesn't exactly have a "modest dress requested" repuatation.)

Best of luck, enjoy it!

Jack's Shack said...

You should definitely do it.

JH said...

Last band I had was called Van Heilig. Can't get more corny than that...

I'm Haaretz, Ph.D. said...

That's so wild! You wouldn't believe this but my friend just told me TODAY that she's heading out to summerfest with two friends! I was like, oh cool whatever... I have to admit that I was slightly less than impressed that a former frum girl was traveling halfway across the country to sleep in a tent for a week and listen to classic rock. (Don't stone me for being so judgmental. If judaism isn't for her, so be it, but don't tell me that Buddhists or hippies are more authentic. I don't need to hear it.) Anyway, ahem... at least now I can tell her to hook up with you guys, a Jewish band. Sorry, a cool Jewish band :) Oh will she be disappointed, ha ha, can't get away from those frummies. No, actually you guys will be such a huge kiddush hashem. I'm already kvelling. You rock PT!

PsychoToddler said...

Orieyenta: Thanks! To those about to ROCK, we salute you! Maybe you can talk your congregation into bringing us to Miami, like...in the winter...hopefully it will be terrorist free by then.

Tuesday: No kidding. I think we will be the only people wearing pants.

Jack: Well, if you say it's ok...

JH: LOL. That's a great name. Actually we do a little Van Halen (we do their version of Pretty Woman). Mendel plays exactly like Eddie.

I'm Haaretz: Please have them come to our set! I promise they will not be disappointed. Tell them to bring their lighters! BTW making a kiddush Hashem was a precondition for getting approval from our Rabbi. So we'd better not suck!

Max: Let me know when it's more convenient for you and I'll see what I can do!

Anonymous said...

Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas Meet Face to Face, Agree to Future Gathering

look at this

kasamba said...

Hey, I guess that makes me a cyber-groupie!!!

cruisin-mom said...

Your dad would be proud P.T.

Ralphie said...

Anonymous - is that future gathering going to be at Summerfest?

PT - so, how'd you get this gig?

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

It sounds good to me. Just don't be Cold As Ice. Sounds exciting and positive, like it fits.

Maybe you'll expand one day (maybe you've done this thoroughly already) on what the pull is for music. It seems it's playing more than listening. How would your life be different without this piece.

Another meshugannah mommy said...

Well, we may have to hit Summerfest, after all! Always a fun way to spend the Fourth... or Fifth!

Stacey said...

This sounds so awesome. Wish I could be there. Of course you should do this! And Foreigner? WOW!!

Ezzie said...

SUMMERFEST!!! Wow, that's pretty solid. A lot of my friends used to walk to... errr, never mind. Nobody ever went to Summerfest in the last weeks of school. Ever. That would be against the rules. So they didn't.

That's really impressive, PT. FWIW, the first CD that was played in our 20 hours of driving to/from the Milwaukee wedding in Toronto was Shlock Rock. Other selections included Diaspora Yeshiva Band.

PsychoToddler said...

Kasamba: Milwaukee is lovely this time of year.

Cruisin Mom: Scruffy looking? Who's scruffy looking?

Ralphie: There's a famous saying: Ask and ye shall receive. Also it helps to know people.

Rabbi Neil: It's fits us very well. Typically when we play the type of music we are most suited to, in front of Jewish crowds, old ladies run away screaming with their hands over their ears.

We've actually had to cut most of our mellow tunes out for this set. The crowd is going to love it!

I wrote a post about playing in suitable venues here last year. As to the pull of music specifically on me? That's too involved for a comment, but it's a good idea for a future post.

Meshugana Mom: Definitely stop by and introduce yourself! It's going to be a fun show! Where are you traveling?

Stacey: Of course the one bad thing is that due to my aveilus, I can't actually stay to hear Foreigner!

Ezzie: Ahem. And where was the Moshe Skier CD???

Tzipster91 said...

The question is not whether there is going to be someone in the audience with a videocamera, but whether they are going to give you the video. My suggestion - bring Curly with and hand him a camcorder.

parcequilfaut said...

Haaretz PhD...you can be deeply religious and still like-a the music festivals...I am, and do. Hopefully your buddy will find the balance, "authenticity" aside.

PT...for about five minutes our boss was planning to send us to Summerfest, but it's too far to go from here. Good luck! And I'm glad you still get to play.

On a side note, do you have a MySpace music page? Because if you don't, you totally should. I would put one of your tracks on my homepage!!!!!!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

PT: Wow...I am so jealous of not being able to see your performance.

Have fun!

PsychoToddler said...

Tzippy: Curly and technology--BAD COMBINATION!! He so much as looks at a computer and it crashes! I'm going to try to get Fudge to videotape it.

Parce: Oh no! It would be too cool if you could come. I'm planning on wearing Homestarwear! Yeah, I've asked Fudge to do a Myspace page for the band, but she's obviously "too busy".

Jameel: We would love for someone to fly us in to Israel for a show.

PsychoToddler said...

I've started a Myspace page for the band:

myspace.com/mosheskierband

Max Power said...

I remember there used to be a great musicfest on moshav modiin years ago, do they still do that? Otherwise I may have to start a collection to bring you and other jewish rock bands to the Holy Land.

Another meshugannah mommy said...

We're not traveling - we are within driving distance. My kids are used to crossing the state line to go to the Stride Right outlet in Kenosha!

Wed. is a working day for me, so I can't make it up there, after all. I'll be sorry to miss the show.