Tiny Desk

The Klezmatics

The Klezmatics: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/140818209/140869841" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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)

Credits

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

Ravi Coltrane performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 4, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ravi Coltrane Quartet

Artistic legacy, evolution and studied ease coalesced at this Tiny Desk Concert, with Coltrane offering four interpretations of his and others' works.

Holly Macve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Holly Macve

Backed by a suitably low-key band, Macve would sound subtly radiant just about anywhere, from your nearest country bar to the most dreamily lit stage in Twin Peaks.

Tigers Jaw performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 19, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tigers Jaw

The duo strips down to acoustic guitar and keyboard for a strikingly intimate set, illuminating their close harmonies that tangle like garlands.

Penguin Cafe performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 2, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe folds in sounds from around the world and throughout music history — Africa, Kraftwerk, Brazil and Franz Schubert.

Perfume Genius performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 15, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Perfume Genius

The band's long-awaited performance at the Tiny Desk was both beautiful and, at times, intense, featuring three deeply personal songs by frontman Mike Hadreas.

Violents & Monica Martin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 28, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Violents & Monica Martin

While her band was on hiatus, Monica Martin joined Jeremy Larson's project Violents, yielding a lush record of electronic pop, translated into a quieted set at the Tiny Desk.

Nick Grant performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 8, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Nick Grant

The Atlanta-based MC came through with the flu and coolly earned our praise. How sick is that?

Royal Thunder performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 10, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Royal Thunder

What happens when you ask a hard-rock band to unplug its thunder? It draws power from a raw, desperate vulnerability.

Gabriel Garzon-Montano performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 3, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano spent three years writing and recording his beautiful, dense album Jardin -- but for his Tiny Desk visit, he stripped it all down to two elements, the piano and his voice.

Julia Jacklin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 1, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin

A restrained, whisper-soft Tiny Desk concert from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin with songs taken from her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.

Back To Top