Great work from the Newtown Festival organisers with a good programme over the festival period. Navigate around and check out the great links for the bands http://www.newtownfestival.org.nz/performers/ and the Rebs http://www.newtownfestival.org.nz/klezmer-rebs/
Good on Mike Alexander for mentioning the Klezmer Rebs dilemma in his On the Beat column in the Sunday Star Times (26 February 2012, pF17), but awfully weird that “for legal reasons we cannot name the title of the album.” Oh, you must be referring to Anarchia Total. Now how is a song about freedom and standing up for civil and human rights a threat to the nation or Urs’s trial?
Want to judge for yourself? For a live version and translation of Urs’s song Anarchia Total have a look and listen here http://klezmer.co.nz/our-music/ (scroll down a bit). Ask for the new Klezmer Rebs album Anarchia Total at your local CD shop (if your town has any left) and/or order here http://klezmer.co.nz/cd-order/ or on line here http://klezmer.bandcamp.com/ .
For the band’s view about it all, have a read of this http://klezmer.co.nz/2012/02/18/1016/
Thanks for the nice words and support from Ode Records boss Roger Marbeck.
The full article is below.
Thelongdarkteatimeofthesoul blog has some nice things to say about our recent concert at the Dowse ‘From Shtetl to Kiwi Klezmer’ a chronological story of klezmer music.
We’d love to do this curated concert again. We are looking to set up a concert in Auckland on Queens Birthday weekend – contact us through our facebook page if you would like to help. Here is what the programme looked like:
You will know that Urs Signer, our awesome clarinettist and composer, is on trial for some very serious charges. We wish our interested public and fans to know how we feel about this.
Urs has been with the band for over 7 years, featuring on our first ‘real’ CD – ‘Live at the Wellington Folk Festival’ in 2005. It was Urs’s performance that made the Rebs stand out then.
In October 2007 we again were booked to play at the Folk Festival, then learned the week before that our friend musician Urs Signer and his girlfriend Emily had been arrested at gunpoint in the Wellington Green Belt. We visited him at Rimutaka Prison, in an orange boiler suit. It was surreal.
We were rehearsing that weekend when we discovered in talking to each other that we had all noticed interference and funny clicks and sounds on our telephones; we were personally affronted and shaken by this civil rights violation of innocent citizens by state surveillance.
Don Franks (bless him) and his brass band came and played and spoke truth and raised some money, and I gave an impassioned speech about how the State had taken Urs, one of us, and that we must all stand together, for we could be next.
How we feel as a band
The Klezmer Rebs, always a political band, have been deeply affected by Urs’s struggles. As a band that supports good causes, we have offered our performance services free to Sea Shepherd, the Christchurch Earthquake (Red Cross), the Green Party, an Indian orphanage and others. The Rebs frequently play for and contribute to Jewish community festivities and inter-faith activities. And we raise money to help pay for the legal costs for those arrested in the 2007 Operation 8 ‘terror’ raids.
On our CD cover you will see a foto of Urs shouting truths into a microphone. Now, finally on trial after 4½ years of being under police watch and legal proceedings, we need to speak out in support of ‘one of us’ who is on trial. The Klezmer Rebs perform the song Anarchia Total in that context.
We stand behind Urs, our peaceful anarchist activist klezmer musician father, proudly and firmly. We are honoured to be extended whanau for Urs and his partner Emily Bailey, providing emotional and moral support, and to offer an outlet for Urs creative genius as a composer and performer.
Anarchia Total CD and song
Our new CD is titled Anarchia Total, and while it features a range of Rebs interpretations of traditional and unusual English /Yiddish /Russian and klezmer songs, its centrepiece is Urs’s title composition written after his experience of arrest and imprisonment.
Anarchia Total is not a song about the October 2007 ‘terror raids’ or about violence.
It is a song (in 5 languages) about standing up for freedom and resisting oppression, repression, racism and fascism everywhere. It is written in the tradition of freedom songs such as 1930’s Italian anti-fascist anthem Bella Ciao (which the Rebs deliver in staunch and rousing fashion at our live gigs, and which appears our CD Just add shmaltz), and Shtil di Nacht and Zog nit Keynmol which are two Yiddish World War 2 Jewish anti-Nazi resistance songs.
In the end, Anarchia Total is a song about celebrating – ‘now we’re dancing once again’ – and it’s just damn fun to play and dance to.
Klezmer Rebs and politics
It is true that Urs describes himself as an anarchist, but other Klezmer Rebs band members do not. I (David Weinstein) am a Green Party activist and others are left-leaning. While Anarchia Total calls for ‘one solution, revolution’ and ‘revolution, autonomy, self-determination’ it is not a call to violence or arms. Band members agree that the current global financial system is unsustainable, ruining our planet and causing social inequity and poverty, and the ‘revolution’ we seek is to change the current system to one that meets the needs of all people and planet.
The Klezmer Rebs members listed below support political activism and protest; we do not support violence.
When Urs plays with the Rebs we are at our best
Urs generally travels from his home with Emily Bailey at Parihaka, Taranaki for major Klezmer Rebs gigs, like our recent performances on the South Island and at the Dowse Art Museum. Due to the trial he is unable to commit to perform with the band over the next few months. We do play concerts without him when he is not available but the Rebs are at our best when Urs’s clarinet soars above all and electrifies our audiences.
Please listen to and enjoy our music
Please listen to the Anarchia Total CD, and our previous 2008 CD Just add shmaltz (also available on Ode Records). These songs are from a klezmer tradition about the joy and sorrows of living, about the struggles of an oppressed minority people. The songs are also wacky, and sometimes rude; they are full of passion; they are about dancing and living life to the fullest.
of the Klezmer Rebs band
firstname.lastname@example.org Cell 021 077 6069
This Wednesday nite 15 February at 7.30 at Cafe Meow http://www.welovemeow.co.nz/ you can be literate and watch (for free!) Amy Brown, Lynn Jenner and Aleksandra Lane join NZ Poet Laureate Ian Wedde in a relaxed but edgy take on poetry “Words on Edge” as part of the Fringe Festival.
Some may recall that Lynn Jenner, author of the award winning poetry volume Dear Sweet Harry worked with the Rebs in a poetry reading with music at the now defunct Ruby Lounge. Lynn will perform a new work The life and death of Mata Hari in 12 minutes. This features Klezmer Rebs musos Rose O’Hara on piano, Heather Elder on violin and David Weinstein, guitar and vox. Lynn will read her work to the musical backing of klezmer tunes from the Klezmer Rebs repetoire including a new composition by Heather.
Come along and be arty and edgy, and be moved by Mata Hari’s story through Lynn’s beautiful language.