Four Questions with Saul Kaye, Jewish Blues Musician
by Molly Parr / March 17, 2014
This week and next I’ll be featuring performers from this year’s Boston Jewish Music Festival. This week I chatted with blues musician Saul Kaye, who will be joining Joey Weisenberg andNoah Aronson on Thursday, March 20, for an evening of folksy blues music at The Center for the Arts in Natick. During the weekend, Saul will also be a visiting artist in residence: He will be leading a blues Kabbalat Shabbat at Congregation Or Atid in Wayland on Friday, March 21, and on Saturday, March 22, he will participate in Shabbat services at Temple Israel in Natick. Saturday night he will also lead a special teen Havdalah service and coffee house sponsored by Prozdor.
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You went from Montana to Israel. That sounds like quite the journey!
Funny you should ask. “Jewish Blues Volume Two” was written half at a yeshiva in Jerusalem and half at a ski resort in Montana. They were both high experiences in their own right. Montana was 11,000 feet and spoiled me for life; Jerusalem gave me a taste of total yeshiva immersion and living the “frum” life.
I’d never really thought about niggunim and the blues, but it makes so much sense. Who are your biggest influences in both blues and Jewish music?
It really depends on the day and month. I do love what Joey Weisenberg is bringing to the Jewish world, both niggunim and teaching. In terms of my own influences from within the Jewish world musically, I love that Shlomo Carlebach was able to get the Jewish world singing again and that his melodies cross all the different denominations. In terms of blues, I love me someSon House for raw spirit, Muddy Waters for being the man, Willie Dixon for his writing andHowlin' Wolf for, well, being the Wolf. I try to channel these guys when I’m on stage. You’ll have to hear it to believe it!
I’m amazed by all the touring you do throughout the year. What’s your favorite place you’ve been?
Every place has its own magic. I was just touring in England for Limmud UK and really appreciated the overwhelming response to American blues fused with Jewish ideas. I also loved playing in Hawaii in December and Texas last month for Yom Limmud. Truth be told, I love everywhere I tour. It’s part of the blessing of this holy work. More than the places themselves, it’s the people and communities that I get to engage with.
Which of the other performers at this year’s festival are you looking forward to seeing?
Joey and Noah. I respect them both musically and Jewishly and know they are coming from a good place.
GENERAL — BY HISLAHAVUS ON APRIL 10, 2013 7:06 AM
Every so often, we find ourselves looking for something totally different. Enter Saul Kaye and “Jewish Blues” – while the label may sound schmaltzy, the records are not. Kaye is well-studied in his genre, and his tenor voice and lithe guitar provide a mellifluous sound heretofore unknown in the Jewish music world.
Some of his songs are Bible Belt, southern classics (“Go Down Moses”), and others are his own whimsical creations – if you can’t take a bit of tongue in cheek, don’t go here – but his plaintive bluesy wailin’ gives the Tanach stories a whole different color (pardon the pun)!
As of yet, I’ve only acquired his Vol. 1, a live recording from a few years back and the focus of this review, but you can go to www.SaulKaye.com to hear some of his solid, and sometimes even spectacular studio work. (After checking it out myself, I’ve noticed that I’ve got some albums I gotta buy…)
The album’s best pieces bring it on with the brilliant Jeremiah’s Blues, which, like the entire album, is given its color scheme through the basic jazz quartet – piano, guitar, percussion and bass. The musicians are superlative, feeling Saul’s emotion and poring it right back. And the lyrics, again, are unique and full of character.
Of note are also his version of the ancient classic Go Down Moses, and scores once again, adding some classy scatting to his own furious guitar solo. Simon Russell’s piano pours forth its own fury, as well. Desert Blues, however is a real kicker – the slide guitar leads the piece brilliantly, and the lyrics are pretty funny.
Dust My Broom is a Southern Modeh Ani of sorts – a soulful strap your boots on, and serve Hashem properly. Sea of Reeds is another playful commentary on the Exodus, and the conversations that may have happened among the people. Or at least those people messing around with guitar and keyboard! And Blackwater Fever is another superlative track, and a non-Biblical one – a spirited recounting of Saul’s great-grandfather escaping the Russian army and fleeing to Africa.
Jewish Blues is a sound and a project by a master musician well worth checking out! Go to www.SaulKaye.com to get some listenin’ in, and bring some blues on home!
After thursday night's show @ the Center for the Arts in Natick,
+Cantor Jeff Klepper said to +Joey Weisenberg , +Noah Aronson
and me, ' the Future is Secure'.
It meant the world to me. What I think he meant was the future of Jewish Music and Culture. Also, I think he was refering to passing on the Torch of Service leadership.
I've been reading Joey's book ' Building singing Communities'
which is a groundbreaking look at how we can get and keep
our communities sinigng and OWNING our prayer experience.
It challenges notions of how we set up our sanctuaries, clergy roles,
and challenges the kahal ( community) to step up and step into their power.
get it here
I am inspired to be on the Jewish Path right now at this time in history and grateful to have been entrusted with the care of leading people in prayer and inspiring them in song to come together.
Thank you +JBfromBJMF . and the Boston Jewish Music Festival for hosting me this week and for keeping Jewish life thriving in Boston!
Last night's show at The Center for the Arts in Natick was Sublime
It's so rare that us prayer leaders, gigging musicians, and teachers get to hear each other play let alone play together.
were both in fine form last night
Noah's piano stylings and depth of commitment to making t'filah is palpable and we all prayed and sang with him.
Joey has a gift for getting communities singing ( he also wrote a book about it http://joeyweisenberg.com/ and travels the country getting communities singing.
There were so many times last night that I literally forgot that I was on stage 'performing' and felt that I was davvening
What a gift.
Thank you Joey and Noah for a great night and also +JBfromBJMF . and the Boston Jewish Music Festival for Hosting us.
If you are in Boston,
I'm leading services tonight at +Congregation Or Atid at 7pm
and Tommorw at +Temple Israel of Natick at 10:15 (family service)
I'm honored to be flying out tomorrow to play the Boston Jewish Music Festival +JBfromBJMF .
This week. thursday night we'll be doing a concert at The Center for the Arts in Natick
new songs from recent CDs
Friday night I'll be leading a Shabbat Service at +Congregation Or Atid @ 7pm
with melodies from my new Kabbalat Shababat CD
Saturday morning I'll be co-leading services at Temple Israel in Natick
family service at 10:15
followed by a short mini concert
Saturday night I'll be playing a Teen havdalah Service at +Hebrew College
7:30-930 Havdalah service followed by a coffee house style concert
if teens have guitars, they are welcome to bring them to jam!
I went to +Berklee College of Music in Boston many years ago and
at that time NEVER even had it on my radar to be playing Jewish Music
Let Alone, Leading Services, but G=d has a funny way of bringing you home.
I hope to do the same for anyone who comes to one of these events this
See you soon
P.s. If you don't have a copy of my latest Cd - Kabbalat Shabbat, you can get it HERE
I'm back on the blogging tip again this holy month of ADAR!
I've been busy producing my wife +Elana Jagoda Kaye's next CD - Seder Song Revival.
It's a sweet collection of songs that will add a whole new set of grooving Pesach music
to your family this year.
Other than that I enjoyed touring in Philly and New York last week. Playing
@ www.btbj.org , www.bzbi.org, Kol emet in Yardley and the Jewish Community of Brighton Beach. It was a good taste of east coast winter.
More on that later.
If you live anywhere near San Mateo or San Francisco, come and celebrate the release of
@ Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo 1700 Alameda De Las Pulgas
San Mateo, CA 94403
This is a rare Full Band Show for me w/ Percussion, +Daniel Berkman on Kora
+Greg Sankovich on Keys, +Dan Feiszli on Bass and Ricky Carter on Drums.
My favorite Bay area band, plus special guests sitting in!
The music on this Cd represents my reconnecting w/ the Friday night Prayer Service.
It's an Afro-Acoustic Celebration ( think +Paul Simon meets +Shlomo Carlebach @ +Ry Cooder's place)
more later this week
join us, the show will sell out!
I have a Dream. That every Jew will be connected to their roots in a meaningful and powerful way. I have a dream that we will celebrate the joy and beauty of our heritage. I have a dream that my children will dance in the streets from San Francisco to Jerusalem; confident in who they are, safe where they are, and where they came from. I have a dream that Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and all our brothers and sisters on the spiritual journey will be able to join hands and embrace our differences, knowing that we have a more in common than different. Knowing we are seeking connection, self-expression, right livelihood, and safety and security for our families. This is my dream today.
Here is Martin Luther King's speech from 8/28/63
Day 10 -Juice Fast
What began as a new years cleanse for a couple days has turned into the longest juice fast
(or feast as they call it ) in my life. Here's an overview of how it went.
As usual Days 1-3 were tough, note to coffee drinkers, it will be rough. Mild to severe headaches
nausea, feeling very tired, naps that have to happen. Of course in December with all 19 concerts
and services I did from Hawaii to London I was drinking a double latte everyday w/out fail.
So that was tough, also, if you have an amazing wife who cooks like a pro, stay out of the
kitchen as the wafting aromas of cooking yummers ( thank you +Evan Wolkenstein)will drive you mad.
Between day 4-6 one's body goes through ketosis where it switches the source of fuel from glycogen
to stored fat. During this process, there is mental confusion and psychedelic moments. Seriously,
stay home and don't operate heavy machinery like cars during those three days if you can help it. If not, put the phone down and drive.
This is my 4th juice fast and the first time I tried it, I had 6 gigs that week. This, I don't recommend. This week was much slower for me, so I had plenty of time in the man cave and studio to just be.
What happens on day 6 and 7 is a general feeling of hunger, lean-ness, a bit of mean-ness, and what I call a simplification of life. There is something very freeing about just drinking juice. We spend 70% of our energy on digestion everyday, 70%! On a juice fast, part of the reason you have so much more energy is that there's an additional 30-40% that is not being used!
I swam, ran, did yoga 4 times, and had way more energy than I usually do, until the afternoon. Then the nap came, like a freight train, I could not stop it, it had to happen.
I embraced it and consider the ability to take a 20-30 minute nap in the middle of the day a great luxury.
On day 8 my body had finally gotten used to the routine and I began waking up naturally at sunrise
( which never happens otherwise mostly due to musician hours and my natural night owl tendencies)
The most profound change for me has been my attitude. I normally wake up cranky, crabby, and it takes quite a bit of work to get me right, this has changed for the most part on days 8-10.
One of the great gifts of this fast has been a shift in attitude towards the light. A feeling that things are
really working out at a deep level and that I am cared for by Hashem. Of course I believed this before and have waves of this in my life on a monthly basis, but this really feels significantly deeper and more real.
I think that if I had more body fat to burn, I would go for a month, but there just ain't enough fat to sustain me through!
What else, I am grateful to my wife, Elana, for putting up with the constant mess in the kitchen and massive juice pulp from my Champion Juicer (now rocking it's 7th year!).
Here's my plug, if you want your energy back, do it. Start with a 5 day cleanse, but I guarantee you'l want more as you start to taste the freedom that comes on the other side. Of course, consult a doc before trying and it's a good idea to ease into it with a reduction diet, slowly removing, caffeine, alcohol, and meat ( unlike me, who went straight in) this would make the first few days more bearable.
Oh yeah, what to juice?
here's a couple articles that got me started
ps if you want to lose weight ( a side bonus) you lose about a pound a day although this time I didn't weigh myself.
It's been a long time since I blogged ( doesn't every blog begin this way?) and rather
than continue to allow the thoughts to ping pong between my ears, I thought
that it's about time to release them into cyberspace.
This blog will have nothing to do with music or Judaism ( a first for me in blogging)
I just got back from my first 25.64 mile ride through San Francisco. It's been only two months since I got my bike and 3 since I decided to do my first triathlon. Crazy yes? Yes, well like most of these adventures, it all started in a bar.
I had just run my 2nd Marathon ( SF) and a month later was confused as to what to do next, another marathon? Ultra? I felt that my knees and feet needed a bit of a break since only one year earlier I had never run more than 3 miles continuously.
My good friend Jon said he was doing a triathlon and I said - I'm in!
Of course, I didn't have a swim suit, goggles, or the mass amount of gear needed to own and ride a bike, but that was ancillary.
Two weeks later I hopped in the pool to my dismay. Where was all the aerobic fitness I had built up from Running? Why can't I breathe? I miss sweat!
Then it just so happened that a friend of mine (yes , a Rabbi) is my exact height and had a bike for me. Knowing nothing about bikes at all I said, "Great, I'll take it!"
He said, You have to come see it first!"
So, I saw it , it looked like a bike and I was off.
Turns out, he gave me an AMAZING deal on a Carbon Fiber Felt bike ( $500) they usually run $2000
Anyhow, then it was time to learn how to cycle. Where was the big beefy mountain bike frame I used to ride as a teenager? This 20 pound bike felt like a feather.
But gradually I got my water wings and bike legs and two months later I can swim 1.5 miles ride 25 miles and and changing my running form to be more efficient.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I did the Golden Gate Sprint Triathlon
.5 mile open water swim 15 mile bike 5k run ( 3.2)
This,like most of the things I'm doing in my life, is completely unexpected and a sweet new chapter in my life.
So, now I'm wrestling with the next decision.... go for a standard olympic +Triathlon
at the +Silicon Valley International Triathlon
or go straight to the Wildflower half Iron Man
Race in May...
Thoughts from other Triathletes?
Blest to be a newbie yet again in life