This is from a show with Mark Rubin and his Gentille Gents at Mag's Bar country night in New Orleans. Pete Olynciw holding that bass down!
Mark Rubin, the self-proclaimed Jew of Oklahoma, playing some world class western swing for the New Orleans dancers, like he learned it 25 years ago in Austin, TX.
Wearing my favorite shirt and playing with my Landsman (someone from my town - Seattle); this was our debut performance, and judging by the number of couples dancing, it went swimmingly.
Jesse is a fine guitarist, singer, and actor, who has worked with everyone from the Duck Dynasty folks - in a musical that ran for a while in Vegas, to Willie Nelson - touring on Farm Aid, to John Mellencamp, Steve Martin, and even Steven King. We played together for a while in the 99 Cent string band, along with Kristin Andreassen (Uncle Earl) and various Brooklyn folkies.
Judging by the way I'm holding the fiddle, this must be a picture of me playing 'Secund,' a rhythmic Jewish style of fiddle playing. Digging into those old rhythms and locking in with the dancers is truly one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life.
One of the joys of living in New Orleans is that great musicians are always coming through and sometimes they need a fiddler. This time it was yodelin' Zach Bryson from Portland, Oregon.
Playing for weddings is truly an honor and a privilege, and often, they're the most enjoyable gigs I play - especially ones like this, where we march the couple to the Brooklyn Bridge playing klezmer marches with one of New York's best tuba players.
One of the great joys of living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was to get to know so many different people and different parts of the Jewish Community. Here I'm playing a deep old slow melody, escorting my friend to his wedding at world Chabbad Judaism headquarters. Every Friday afternoon my friend Erachmiel would come by my vintage store with a few beers and we'd talk country music and Judaism, trading insights and cigarettes. I'm honored to have recorded with his band Rocky and The Goldstein.
Sometimes you can't bring the whole band, so you make do. Here we are in South Carolina playing a Jewish wedding with fiddle, clarinet, and a drum. It worked surprisingly well...!
New Orleans is a special place, and while there's a million reasons why this is true, a big one is the community here. People are very excited to share and learn, and a lot of good music and inspiration gets passed around in a backyard bonfire in this town. This photo shows a klezmer shabbat celebration I hosted.
'Do you like country music or blues?' Playing with Todd anywhere is always a treat. He's one of my favorite country singers in the world to play with or listen to; he really gets that old sound and phrasing. And watching him interact with people on Royal Street in New Orleans is just as fun as hearing him play.
I love it when my various identities and communities overlap, such as this gig, where I played old-time fiddle duets for a Chanuka party for young Jews in Manhattan. You know, cause Jewish New Yorkers liking southern folk music is as traditional as it gets...
This is by far my favorite synagogue in the country, located in the lower east side of Manhattan, and it's been one of my favorite places to perform klezmer, not just because of its beauty, or significance, but also because the audience and workers are always so sweet and receptive.
Band shot for my Brooklyn based klezmer band, Litvakus. We play primarily Belarusian Jewish music, along with other songs from the klezmer repertoire. The band is led by clarinetist, singer, musicologist, arranger, and proud father, Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch.
Playing for a wedding in front of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Playing at DROM, a world music club in Manhattan's East Village.
Sometimes you have to listen to the music you're playing as deeply as the audience and find what the next note is, rather than think of how it should be. This is one of those moments.
A kind student of mine took this violin to the shop and asked what they thought. 'Only a fiddler would want this' they told him, convincing him that another instrument better suited his classical tendencies. In his infinite compassion, Michael then gave me this violin as a way of saying thank you for my guidance as a teacher. Every time I try it in the studio on a 'folk' record, it always sounds better and more soulful than my other more 'high end' violin. Sometimes life does work out!
This photo was set up by John and then taken by someone else. It's from a photo shoot we did for the record we put out on Smithsonian Folkways, titled The Old Man Below.
This is a picture of me the first time I ever went out and played in public. I made over $70 in about an hour playing at the Seattle Folklife Festival, and boy do my parents regret letting me go out that day! Since then I've played on street corners (and venues, theaters, dive bars, and fancy houses) all over the world, from Australia to Israel, South Africa to Sweden.
An old Appalachian song I got from the playing of Cousin Emmy, recorded in Dead Horse Bay in Brooklyn, New York.
"ZISL'S SHER AND KARAHOD" by LITVAKUS
An original composition by Zisl Slepovitch (clarinet) followed by a traditional Belarusian Jewish circle dance tune.
Filmed live at DROM, a music venue in Manhattan's East Village.
"BEFORE DAWN" by BROOKLYN BLUE GRASS COLLECTIVE
This is an original bluegrass tune written by my former bandmate, Thomas Bryan Eaton (Miss Tess and the Talkbacks) recorded in Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Bluegrass Collective's Volume 2. BBC is a collective of musicians working to record, promote, and create bluegrass music in the New York Area.