Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanukkah

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
From a trove of unpublished songs by folk icon Woody Guthrie, New York's klezmer stars have rescued a stack of tunes celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights. Written while Woody was happily nesting in Coney Island with his second wife, Marjorie Mazia, the songs are family listening in the best sense. Sensing immediately the dearth of sing-along material for Jewish youngsters at holiday time, Woody penned tunes for his kids and their friends that salute the festival with the joy of a convert. "The Many and the Few," a haunting duet with Irish singer Susan McKeown, links ancient history with the Hanukkah story for a memorable, radiant tale of rededication lit only by a...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
From a trove of unpublished songs by folk icon Woody Guthrie, New York's klezmer stars have rescued a stack of tunes celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights. Written while Woody was happily nesting in Coney Island with his second wife, Marjorie Mazia, the songs are family listening in the best sense. Sensing immediately the dearth of sing-along material for Jewish youngsters at holiday time, Woody penned tunes for his kids and their friends that salute the festival with the joy of a convert. "The Many and the Few," a haunting duet with Irish singer Susan McKeown, links ancient history with the Hanukkah story for a memorable, radiant tale of rededication lit only by a solo accordion. Elsewhere, the Klezmatics do what they do best -- rousing dance music that will surely animate kids and adults. Instrumentals like the Meters-styled "Do the Latke Flip-Flop" keep the mood musically fun and varied. Guthrie's songs educate about the holiday, sure, but they also ask questions and suggest some deeper truths about holidays, family, neighborhoods, and music. What Jewish parent would counsel kids, "Hanuka time is a time for us all / To tell things that troubled our minds / To untie old knots of bad feelings we've had / And try not to look sad anymore." So left-field, and yet so right -- just like this collection.
All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
A companion piece to 2006's sublime Wonder Wheel, Happy Joyous Hanukkah, like that album, dips into Woody Guthrie's catalog of recently discovered, previously unrecorded Jewish lyrics, to which the Klezmatics have written new music. Originally released in 2004, Happy Joyous Hanukkah, expanded with four additional songs in this re-release, largely lives up to its name, stacked with uptempo, celebratory, often quite clever tributes to the festive Jewish holiday. Guthrie's playful way with the language is evident from the opening track, the cheerful "Honeyky Hanuka," and onward through much of the album. "Hanuka Gelt" doubles as a counting lesson "Hanuka, Hanuka, 'leven and seven/Hanuka geltula, dance me to heaven", while the closing "Hanuka Dance" is just that, even if its lyrical content consists of not much more than a series of name drops of various treats consumed during the holiday. The Klezmatics are the ideal band to bring Guthrie's dormant words to life: vocalist Lorin Sklamberg's crystalline pipes lend a natural merriment to the band's arrangements, and trumpeter Frank London, who crafted the music for most of the songs that Sklamberg didn't, injects an experimentalism into the proceedings without losing sight of tradition. Only one song, "The Many and the Few," for which Guthrie wrote both music and words, might be described as somber, but it's not tedious: with Susan McKeown alternating with Sklamberg on lead vocals, it tells the story of Hanukkah's origin, a tale, it's fair to say, many non-Jews still do not know. And now that they will, there's no reason gentiles shouldn't enjoy this album of Hanukkah songs by the non-Jewish Guthrie as much as, say, one Jewish record producer stated his enjoyment of that other December holiday's songs when he cut one of the season's all-time classics, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/5/2006
  • Label: Jmg / Jewish Music
  • UPC: 857764001503
  • Catalog Number: 18050
  • Sales rank: 96,094

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Klezmatics Primary Artist
Danny Blume Electric Guitar, Vocals
Matt Darriau Reeds, Jew's Harp, Group Member
Lisa Gutkin Violin, Vocal Harmony, Group Member
Tine Kindermann Choir, Chorus
David Licht Drums, Group Member
Frank London Trumpet, Harmonium, Alto Horn, Vocal Harmony, Group Member
Susan McKeown Vocals, Vocal Harmony, Guest Appearance
Paul Morrissett Bass, Bass (Vocal), Cymbals, Baritone Horn, Group Member
Lorin Sklamberg Piano, Accordion, Vocals, Group Member
Boo Reiners Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin, Guest Appearance
Technical Credits
Woody Guthrie Composer
Matt Darriau Composer
Lisa Gutkin Composer
Frank London Composer
Susan McKeown Duet
Paul Morrissett Composer
Lorin Sklamberg Composer
Nora Guthrie Executive Producer
Dave Schultz Mastering
Randy Crafton Engineer
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