The Klezmatics: Tiny Desk Concert Ring in Rosh Hashanah with three globe-trotting tunes from one of the world's greatest Jewish bands.

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

Allen Stone plays a Tiny Desk concert (Max Posner/NPR). Max Posner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Max Posner/NPR

Allen Stone

The soul singer demonstrated a commitment to the Tiny Desk that we rarely, if ever, see.

Tarriona "Tank" Ball plays a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

Tarriona 'Tank' Ball (Home) Concert

"Don't go out to the cookout." The leader of Tank and the Bangas spreads pure joy from her living room in New Orleans.

The Black Crowes play a Tiny Desk concert. bob boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption bob boilen/NPR

The Black Crowes

Chris and Rich Robinson revisit songs from their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker.

Arthur Moon plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Kisha Ravi/NPR). Kisha Ravi/NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Kisha Ravi/NPR/NPR

Arthur Moon

The New York band (yes, band) is reminiscent of Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson and Dirty Projectors. Watch the five-piece play three songs at the Tiny Desk.

Rex Orange County plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Kisha Ravi/NPR). Kisha Ravi/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Kisha Ravi/NPR

Rex Orange County

Watch the low-key British pop star perform "Sunflower," "Loving Is Easy" and more at the Tiny Desk.

Harry Styles plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Max Posner/NPR). Max Posner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Max Posner/NPR

Harry Styles

The former One Direction singer gave a charming performance of "Watermelon Sugar," "Adore You" and other cuts from his latest album, Fine Line.

Chika plays a Tiny Desk concert (Max Posner/NPR). Max Posner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Max Posner/NPR

Chika

The 23-year old rapper from Alabama went for a stripped-down set anchored by a Peruvian cajón.

Kirill Gerstein performs at NPR's Tiny Desk, Washington, D.C. on January 28th, 2020. Max Posner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Max Posner/NPR

Kirill Gerstein

Watch the award-winning pianist play a hit by Chopin, a premiere by Thomas Adès and a cherished song by Gershwin dressed in a virtuosic arrangement.

Coldplay performs a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR Music on Jan. 23, 2019 (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Coldplay

A nine-piece choir joins the band for an inspired reworking of four Coldplay songs — and a surprise cover of Prince's "1999."

Back To Top