Tiny Desk

The Klezmatics

Download Audio

The Klezmatics: Tiny Desk Concert

In the Jewish tradition, you're supposed to greet Rosh Hashanah — the New Year — with foods like honey, apples, dates and pomegranates. But all those treats can get kind of sticky, so we wanted to usher in the year 5772 the way we know best: with some sweet, sweet music.

So we invited The Klezmatics to stop by for a little holiday celebration. Twenty-five years into its career together, the band is one of the greatest klezmer groups in the world, but its members are more than that: They're Jewish innovators, American roots-rockers, punkish social activists and folkie balladeers. (Keep an eye out for the forthcoming documentary On Holy Ground, directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou, which chronicles The Klezmatics' anarchic and messy path to musical glory.)

The Grammy-winning band's lineup has changed pretty fluidly over the last quarter-century, but the four Klezmatics who visited us — Lorin Sklamberg, Paul Morrissett, Matt Darriau and Lisa Gutkin — epitomize their spirit of amazing musicianship and restless wandering. They kicked things off with a bouncy dance, "Gilad and Ziv's Sirba," and with an alto sax joining guitar, accordion and violin, it took on something of a brassily subversive, Romani Gypsy vibe.

Next up was the dulcet "On Holy Ground," with words by Woody Guthrie. Sklamberg, Gutkin and Morrissett's vocals are sheer roots Americana, but they're beautifully offset by an Eastern European twist of clarinet and the tsimbl, a hammered dulcimer. And, lest we get too wound up in a reflective mood, The Klezmatics brought us back to the dance floor with a wry tune that's a good fit for our own uncertain times: "Maybe if we sing a little louder, we can wake up the Messiah, who obviously is taking a little nap."

Set List
  • "Gilad and Ziv's Sirba" (Lorin Sklamberg)
  • "Holy Ground" (Frank London; lyrics by Woody Guthrie)
  • "Zol shoyn kumen di geule" (Shmerke Kaczerginsky; arranged by Frank London)

Michael Katzif, Christina Fletes (cameras); edited by Bob Boilen; audio by Kevin Wait, Robin Hilton; photo by Mallory Benedict/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. Julia Reihs/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Julia Reihs/NPR

Tiny Desk

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

The trumpeter presents his emotionally charged, jazz-hybridized "stretch music" in performance.

Tiny Desk Concert with Deqn Sue. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Deqn Sue

She came so close to winning NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert Contest, we just had to see her play.

Tiny Desk Concert with Lianne La Havas Jun Tsuboike /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jun Tsuboike /NPR

Tiny Desk

Lianne La Havas

The singer is soulful yet playful, raw and vulnerable in a commanding kind of way.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Internet. Cameron Robert/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Cameron Robert/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Internet

The R&B band might just be the oddest thing to come from the hip-hop collective Odd Future.

Tiny Desk Concert with Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg. Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Joan Shelley

As technology rules the day, here's a reminder that a single voice can carry deep emotion.

Tiny Desk Concert with Gina Chavez Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gina Chavez

The Austin singer-songwriter performs with intense openness, directness and warmth.

Fiona Apple performs with the Watkins Family Hour at the Tiny Desk. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Tiny Desk

Watkins Family Hour

With help from Fiona Apple, two Nickel Creek alums gather a band to perform old and new songs.

Tiny Desk Concert with Chris and Morgane Stapleton Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chris Stapleton

With his wife Morgane, the country singer-songwriter sings patient, detailed songs of devotion.

Tiny Desk Concert with Sam Lee Lydia Thompson /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson /NPR

Tiny Desk

Sam Lee

The singer found his voice by finding and preserving old British, Irish and Scottish folk songs.

Back To Top