Friday, February 25, 2011

Banded Together

Today an older lady said something to me that’s probably going to haunt me for the foreseeable future of my life.

First, though, I should back up.

I’ll start with last weekend. We were hired to play at the Dance Flurry—this HUGE dance gathering in Saratoga—5000 crazy contradancers crazily contradancing for hours.

We were the Jewish flavor and we were hired as a Family Band.

We did a Yiddish Jug Band, a grand Klezmer Concert, and played 2 huge dances for hundreds of people. Zachary wailed on that Baritone Sax and Aaron held down an amazing and complex rhythm on Keyboard. The whole thing passed like a beatific blur because THE definition of the Yiddish word “nakhes” is playing music with your children.

They got their own hotel room, the big boys. They danced with every pretty girl at the festival. They had ice cream every day and we all hot tubbed and swam. They were ogled and admired and fielded a million texts from those pretty girls on the car ride home.

Oh, the baby twins garnered their usual spectacle and had an enormously good time, too.

So, what’s with the older lady?

So we are doing a concert for her Yiddish group this weekend and she asked about the “kinderlakh” and I joked that by next year the baby twins will be in the band.

Oh, she said, mentioning 2 other Klezmer musicians we all know, “Well if they can exploit their children, I guess you can, too.”

I got me like you can’t believe.

When I was little I HATED playing my violin with my Dad—from whom I got my musical ability, the violin itself, lessons, and too many fiats to stop playing with my friends right now and come in and practice.

We played each year, as a Family Band, at what they used to call an old age home. I hated to practice but as you can imagine, I LOVED being on stage.

Sruli and I have met some family bands in our travels.

It’s a fascination: each kid playing a different instrument, the rivalry between them, the weird Mom/ Dad /Bandleader dynamic and of course the creepy feeling that maybe Mom and Dad ARE using these cuter, younger people to make a living.

Most people though, think its sweet.

Sruli, of course wants to drop everything, buy a circus trailer and travel the country as Hoot ‘n Annie and their Tappin’ Twins.

Meantime we are the Oy Vey Klezmer Family Band.

I asked the big boys if they like doing this with us, if they feel comfortable playing with Mom and Step-Dad, traveling around and shlepping to all these festivals, being on time for sound checks, and having to stop playing with their friends right now and come in and practice for a gig.

They looked at me, incredulous.

We LOVE it, Mom, they said.

Exploit, Shmexploit. So long as they’re happy.

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