Monday, December 16, 2013

Concert Review: Ben Sidran at White Theatre

A bit of ugliness marred an otherwise engaging presentation by Ben Sidran at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday afternoon.

Following Sidran's lecture and demonstration, a befuddled man in the audience of about 200 seemed to mistake a question-and-answer session for a meeting of Racists Anonymous.

In a jarring monologue, a man who identified himself as a Christian repeatedly upheld a handful of Jewish stereotypes.  The subsequent commotion spoiled the remainder of the presentation and was the only thing I heard people discussing as they exited White Theatre.

It's too bad.  While promoting his current book There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, Sidran made a convincing case for the importance of what he called "the Jewish meme" in American society.  He suggested that that not only is American popular music shaped in large part by Jewish musicians, composers and businessmen, but that Americans in the 20th century adopted the Jewish dream as the American dream.

Sidran performed material by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Bob Dylan and Billy Joel to make his case.  He also parsed "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" and "Over the Rainbow" as (his phrase) "Jewish music."  During one of his many digressions, Sidran implied that a significant portion of Louis Armstrong's brilliance was inspired and guided by Jewish culture.

Sidran touches on many of the same themes in this recent discussion.

Joe Bihari of Modern Records has died.

Sterlin, the new album by She's a Keeper, was released on December 11. RIYL: The Lumineers, kids with banjos, Punch Brothers.

Eight months late- here's the video for Devon Allman and Samantha Fish's version of "Stop Dragging My Heart Around".

My top jazz albums of 2013 are posted at Plastic Sax.


Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)


bgo said...

Too bad a cracker Christian had to show up for Ben's lecture and disrupt the proceedings. For contrast I recommend Sidran's book Black Talk, which I read back when I was an impressionable kid. Ben always has tooted his own horn well. I am sorry I missed what you witnessed, Bill.

Happy In Bag said...

Well put, BGO. I've long wondered if I should claim a copy of Black Talk from a used a bookstore.