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Courtesy of David Lazaroff
Around this time last year, Brothers Lazaroff were putting together a night’s set to complement Kinky Friedman, who was slated to perform a concert at Off Broadway. The story gets a tad complicated from there, but creative sparks began to fly and a host of small fires began to burn. The Brothers and their band created, for example, what cohort Ben Kaplan calls “a suite of songs called Eight Nights,’” a Hanukkah-themed collection of 10 tracks based on the poems of Rabbi James Stone Goodman that was, for the span of about two weeks, among the top five sellers on the direct-to-the-people music sharing site, bandcamp.com.
In terms of a live setting, the Brothers called on friends, associates and even a few somewhat-unknown parties to contribute tracks to the recording, then to an accompanying live show. Poet Rabbi James Stone Goodman was key among that lot, along with Will Soll’s Klezmer Conspiracy, purveyors of traditional klezmer. Kaplan’s hard-to-pigeonhole act The Vaad took part, as well.
And as he says, “at the end of the night, I think we all looked around at each other, right after the show and thought, ‘holy cow, we’ve landed on something really interesting here, let’s push it forward.’ David (Lazaroff) really masterminded the Eight Nights piece, in terms of the show. He and Jeff (Lazaroff) put together the recording, as well, which took on a life of its own. And that drove it this year, with a show that’s centering on Eight Nights. It’ll allow the groups to play individually, but will also allow interplay between the groups.”
David Lazaroff says that this year’s reprise of the show, the Second Annual Hanukkah Hullaballoo on Saturday, December 8, started out with some large ideas, including setting the Eight Nights tracks into a sort of “theatrical production. But then we just said, ‘let’s keep it low-key and do another party.’ Now we know what we can do. Last year, we didn’t know the Rabbi, we didn’t know Will. I didn’t really know Ben’s act, as he hadn’t played out in a long time. Eight Nights is still the centerpiece of the evening and we’ve got horn players from the Funky Butt Brass Band doing some of that. We have a lot of community involvement this year. There seems to be a lot of buzz and more intentionality that last year, which was really a Kinky Friedman after-party.”
He adds that “the music is pretty experimental. Noise-centric, psychedelic, funky klezmer jams. It’s very open with Eight Nights. We’ve been focusing on making it sound right and that involves all of the members. Adam Hucke and Ben Reece from Funky Butt will be on horns. Ben (Kaplan) will be playing effects and guitar with us. Acts that remixed tracks from our Science Won CD will be coming up to join us during our own set. It’s going to be everyone jumping on-stage with everyone else, being a community.”
Kaplan says, that “when Eight Nights comes together with bits and pieces of all the bands, it works in such an interesting way. I can’t even articulate what it’s been like to rehearse. There’s a spiritual thing, an entertainment thing. It’s multi-dimensional. It’ll be very special evening.”
Adding a new twist to the festivities will be STL STyLe, which is creating a special t-shirt for the evening, which’ll be on-sale at Off Broadway that night, along with some of the business’ other, civically-themed gear.
And a fun return from last year will be the onstage making of latkes by DJ Goldie, who’ll be spinning some records and creating symbolic food on the spot. David Lazaroff says the venue provides a perfect outlet for any idea they throw out.
Lazaroff says that “it’s exciting for us to be in a place where Jewish-themed events aren’t normally held. And Off Broadway’s the place where we sound the best. The sound system, the acoustics, the sound man... it’s one of the rooms that always sounds good for what we do. Roots music sounds good in there. Off Broadway’s one of the first places we played in town, and we try to not play there too often, because we want to save it for special stuff.”
Like the making of latkes.
“We’ll have two fryers this year,” Lazaroff laughs. “For some people, it’s the most exciting part of the night.”
Second Annual Hanukkah Hullaballoo featuring Brothers Lazaroff, Rabbi James Stone Goodman, The Vaad and Will Soll’s Klezmer Conspiracy, Saturday, December 8, 9 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp, offbroadwaystl.com. $8 admission, with proceeds going to the One Life-Whole World Project of Neve Shalom. To listen to Eight Nights, go to eightnights.bandcamp.com.