Wonder Wheel

Wonder Wheel

by The Klezmatics


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Wonder Wheel

Who knew that America's Dust Bowl troubadour was such a Brooklyn boychik? Woody Guthrie settled with his second wife, Marjorie Mazia, and their burgeoning family on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island (a fact well known to Billy Bragg and Wilco fans after their album of unreleased Guthrie tunes) and threw himself into the Jewish, Italian, and Polish neighborhood mix. "Mermaid's Avenue" a gustatory celebration of the street where "the lox and bagels meet" shows how Woody had become a consummate New Yorker by 1950. It's just one glimpse of the second half of the life of the storied song collector and songwriter, gleaned from Guthrie's thousands of unrecorded songs and painted in luminous color by the Klezmatics and guest vocalist Susan McKeown. However much he loved his wife, Guthrie also felt a special bond with his mother-in-law, Aliza Greenblatt, a Yiddish labor activist and songwriter. The songs here burst with fascist-fighting immigrant struggles for a perfect world; in its own way it's as rich and earthy and multitudinous as Walt Whitman. The music is a perfect match. Klezmer fans have always known the musical prowess of this ensemble, but never has one album so captured the breadth of their talents: Mandolin-driven folk, Caribbean lilts, klezmer-tinged sea chanteys, Celtic balladry, and gorgeous compositional moments grace the album, with guitarist Boo Reiners adding extra depth. Lorin Sklamberg, a Yiddish-song treasure, sings in English, delivering note-perfect readings of Guthrie's lyrics, often in ethereal harmony with McKeown. The instant classic "Mermaid's Avenue" should raise a generation of Boardwalk babies, but then there's the luminous "Gonna Get Through This World," the Eastern-tinged "Holy Ground," and the Eastern European/avant-jazz/liturgical exploration "Wheel of Life." It's hard to pick favorites from this carnival of seaside fun. Together they make a richly satisfying nosh, easily the Klezmatics' most accessible album, and a riotous slice of life that might have, must have, been.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/25/2006
Label: Jmg / Jewish Music
UPC: 0857764001336
catalogNumber: 18033
Rank: 134302

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Klezmatics   Primary Artist
Danny Blume   Electric Guitar
Matt Darriau   Clarinet,Bass Clarinet,Saxophone,kaval,Vocal Harmony,Group Member
Lisa Gutkin   Violin,Viola,Vocal Harmony,Group Member
Frank London   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Alto Horn,Keyboards,Cornemeuse,Vocal Harmony,Group Member
Susan McKeown   Vocals,Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Brian Mitchell   Piano
Paul Morrissett   Violin,Electric Bass,Cymbals,Baritone Horn,Acoustic Bass,Group Member
Lorin Sklamberg   Guitar,Piano,Accordion,Vocals,Group Member
Kenny Wollesen   Percussion,Drums,Guest Appearance
Adam Widoff   Tabla
Michael Alpert   Vocals
Ethan Eubanks   Percussion,Cymbals,Snare Drums
Ron Caswell   Tuba
Boo Reiners   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Electric Guitar,Guest Appearance

Technical Credits

Woody Guthrie   Composer
Danny Blume   Engineer
Matt Darriau   Composer
Lisa Gutkin   Composer
Frank London   Composer
Mark London   Art Direction
Paul Morrissett   Composer
Lorin Sklamberg   Composer
Butch Hawes   Composer
Nora Guthrie   Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Vivien Goldman   Liner Notes,Essay
Steve Keene   Artwork
Gus Oberg   Engineer

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