Klezmer Rebs

A statement from the Klezmer Rebs band about our band member Urs Signer

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.

What happened

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.

David Weinstein

Sue Esterman

Heather Elder

Rosemary O’Hara

Dave Moskovitz

Amanda Maclean

Rainer Thiel

 of the Klezmer Rebs band

david.weinstein@klezmer.co.nz Cell 021 077 6069

www.klezmer.co.nz

https://www.facebook.com/klezmer.rebs

http://klezmer.bandcamp.com/

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