A Musical Summer

Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia hosts a diversity of musical acts and festivals this summer. (Provided)

Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia hosts a diversity of musical acts and festivals this summer.

This summer, Baltimore residents can catch jam bands, pop-punk heroes, classic rock icons, alternative rock giants, comedy, orchestral performances and a variety of up-and-comers at the region’s various outdoor venues.

“There’s nothing like seeing a concert outdoors,” said Toby Blumenthal, director of rentals and presentations at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. “That’s what summer’s all about: being outside and really enjoying the atmosphere.”

Between Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Baltimore’s Pier Six Pavilion, the city’s music and art festival, Artscape, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s outdoor shows, concertgoers can find any genre quite literally under the sun.

Merriweather hosts a variety of top performers this summer, from the newly wildly popular Sam Smith (July 24), pop-punkers Fall Out Boy with rapper Wiz Khalifa (June 27), ever-evolving rockers My Morning Jacket (July 26), neo-soul queen Erykah Badu (Aug. 8), two days of jam-band giants Phish (Aug. 15 and 16), country star Darius Rucker (Aug. 22), alt-rockers Death Cab for Cutie (Sept. 13) and up-and-coming blues rockers Alabama Shakes (Sept. 18).

Several shows stand out for Audrey Schaefer, spokeswoman for I.M.P., which operates Merriweather and the 9:30 Club, including Willie Nelson, who performs with Old Crow Medicine Show on Aug. 19.

“This guy’s still got it, man, I don’t know how. He’s 82,” she said. “When I grow up I wanna be like him.”

O.A.R. will be setting what Schaefer thinks must be a record by playing at Merriweather for the 11th season in a row.

On the heavier side of things, the punky Vans Warped Tour comes to the venue on July 18 and is the one show that boasts what Schaefer calls a “parents’ depot,” a tent for parents to hang out in while their kids watch the bands.

Faith No More makes a triumphant return to the area on Aug. 2. “I know there are a lot of near-40-year-olds losing their mind about them,” Schaefer said of the band, which hasn’t toured in decades.

“There’s nothing like seeing a concert outdoors. That’s what summer’s all about: being outside and really enjoying the atmosphere.”

For classical music, one can head to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, where the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra continues its annual tradition of the Star-Spangled Spectacular on July 3 and 4, which features fireworks at the end of each performance. The symphony is also bringing “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane to sing American standards and perform comedy on July 16 in Baltimore, and then it’s on the road to The Mann in Philadelphia on July 18. The symphony also performs “Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions” (July 1) and the music of Led Zeppelin (Aug. 1) this summer.

“The summer, for us, is an opportunity to play around with the calendar and really do some unique programming,” Blumenthal said.

Baltimore’s Pier Six Pavilion, located in the Inner Harbor, also boasts a diverse array of artists this summer. The venue hosts alternative rock heroes Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional (June 17), explosive acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriella (June 20), John Fogerty performing Creedence Clearwater Revival songs(June 22), gypsy punks Gogol Bordello and Irish punks Flogging Molly (June 25), progressive jam rockers Umphrey’s McGee and funk band Lettuce (July 19), comedian Jim Gaffigan (Aug. 11), guitar maestro Santana (Aug. 26), The Doobie Brothers and Gregg Allman (Sept. 2), among others.

To top it all off, Baltimore City hosts the nation’s largest free art festival, Artscape, July 17, 18 and 19. Headliners include funk pioneers George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, reggae rockers Michael Franti & Spearhead and New Orleans musician Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue alongside a variety of local and regional bands on three stages.

“This is an area that has a really sophisticated audience in that there are so many people here that are passionate about music and different flavors of music and different styles,” Schaefer said.

While Baltimore is sometimes skipped on big national tours in favor of Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia, Blumenthal said a lot of artists see the value in coming to Baltimore, especially the older ones, given the city’s history with rock music. Merriweather, while showcasing a variety of American music icons, also features a lot of newer artists and focuses more of the younger generation of music fans, Blumenthal said.

“I think that what’s great about this market is you can do any kind of show, whether it’s a bluegrass festival all the way to the heritage artist or newer, younger artists, and there’s always a crowd,” he said. “There’s always a demographic that supports these kinds of concerts.”


A Philharmonic Journey Huberman’s music comes to Gordon Center to mark 70th anniversary of WWII

Last Sunday, attendees at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills were transported back to the days of World War II, but in a manner that no one has done before.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, Sundays at Three Sinfonia performed selections by Polish-Jewish violinist Bronislaw Huberman in a concert titled “Exile to Freedom.”

During the war Huberman put his career on hold to recruit Jewish musicians throughout Europe who were in danger of being captured by the Nazis. He obtained visas, entrance documentation and funding to secure the passage of the musicians and their families to what was then known as Palestine. He launched the orchestra in 1936.

Sunday’s performance featured seven selections that had been performed by the original orchestra in Tel Aviv almost 80 years ago, including Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” — a composition that consists of two movements and alternates between a mellow and frantic pace. Conductor and violinist Ronald Mutchnik said Schubert wrote the symphony in order to illustrate that the work of oppression is “never finished.”

The Gordon Center performance featured selections by Polish-Jewish violinist Bronislaw Huberman. (Photos Provided)

The Gordon Center performance featured selections by Polish-Jewish violinist
Bronislaw Huberman. (Photos Provided)

“He felt he had to show the world our work is never done,” said Mutchnik. “We must fight against tyranny and anti-Semitism.”

Mutchnik, who is also music director for the Howard County Concert Orchestra, co-founded Sundays at Three 18 years ago following the death of Daniel Malkin, a cellist who played in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The orchestra consists of a collection of musicians from the Baltimore-Washington area and plays mainly chamber music. He has known most of the musicians for 30 years.

“It was about seven or eight years ago that we began to form an orchestra together on our own with these musicians,” Mutchnik said of the current group.

He said after watching the film “Orchestra of Exiles,” which tells the story of Huberman, he became curious as to whether anyone had re-created the first concert given by the Palestine Symphony, later the Israel Philharmonic.

After Mutchnik looked at the original program and saw no one had re-created it, he decided it was “high time” to do so.

“Huberman basically felt that he had to save the lives of these musicians that were no longer allowed to perform in the countries that they had been born in and studied music in,” he said.

Mutchnik became interested in classical music from an early age upon learning the story of how his uncle, Allyn Leavey, became a German prisoner of war.

“Before his capture he had met a fellow soldier who shared with him his love of classical music and said ‘you’ve got to listen to Brahms and Beethoven and Mozart and all of these great composers,’” Mutchnik said.

Leavey then wrote to his mother and instructed her to get the recordings, which he was finally able to hear after he returned safely home.

“Because of that, my mother brought me up to listen to classical music,” said Mutchnik, “and I learned to love it so much so that’s the most basic reason any of this was even possible.”

Susan Kleinberg, who lives in Columbia and attended Sunday’s performance, said she was inspired by the unlikely pairing of music with a time of tragedy.

“The choice of playing this again and reliving something that happened in the 1930s was particularly powerful for me,” said Kleinberg, “because of everything going on in the world today, and it all seems to be falling apart. And somehow this gave me some hope that we can work together without violence and without hatred.”

David Gradwell, who is involved with the Howard County Concert Orchestra, also attended and said he was impressed with Mutchnik’s vision.

Gradwell said, “I thought it was a fantastic concert and a great occasion to commemorate.”

Forging a New Vision Josh Kohn embraces new role as performance director at Creative Alliance

Less than a week before heading to China for a tour sponsored by the New Orleans-based public radio show “American Routes,” the Chinese government clamped down on all outdoor festivals. Club appearances with audiences greater than 600 people were canceled too.

With three ensembles — Treme Brass Band, Los Tex Maniacs and Wylie and the Wild West — set to depart for the April 27 through May 3 tour, Josh Kohn worked his Beijing contacts and managed to book venues on the fly.

Josh Kohn (Photo by David Stuck)

Josh Kohn (Photo by David Stuck)

The 34-year-old’s exuberance, network and ability to work in a fast-paced environment are among the reasons he was appointed as the performance director for the Creative Alliance this past fall, taking the reins from Megan Hamilton, who departed for her next adventure with the Peace Corps.

“It was really interesting to be in a city having its issues while things were going on in Baltimore,” said Kohn. “I think about things artistically [about the comparatively] loose nature of American artistic expression.”

Walking through the Creative Alliance space at The Patterson Theater in Highlandtown, Kohn contends that “every art space has its own energy” and at the Creative Alliance that means the “weird, eccentric is embraced,” as evidenced by the Monday morning remnants of the Mad Max themed Marquee Ball from the weekend before the initial interview.

Using his “encyclopedic knowledge” of music, Kohn is responsible for booking 110 shows a year in the first-floor versatile black box theater performance space. He’s brought in polka music, Egyptian artists to perform music from their country’s golden age, Pakistani spoken word performers and experimental jazz musicians.

If there doesn’t seem to be an obvious thread linking the performers Kohn books, it’s because he’s not stuck to a niche.

“I bounce around with my knowledge obsession,” he admits. “I live vicariously through the great art I help facilitate.”

Moving across the street to a quirky, independent coffee shop, Kohn continues to espouse his vision for the future.

The Creative Alliance will continue to “tap into community-based expression” through partnerships with local schools, the Hispanic community, the Baltimore Resettlement Center and others. Mainstays such as burlesque performances and intimate jazz performances aren’t going away, but the focus on hyper-local artists is going to be expanded upon.

Kohn envisions bringing in more nationally known performers, both to expand the audience’s exposure to other performers and to connect local artists with those on the national stage. He’s talking to agents about promoting local talent, so those artists in residence at the Patterson or living locally can earn a living that affords them to keep on creating.

He also wants to foster a more robust Jewish artistic presence. The national trend for Jewish artistic expression, he said, “has devolved into a cappella puns” which are “shlocky.”

“It disappoints me where we are,” he said. “I want to support good [Jewish] artistic expression,” pointing to successes like puppeteer Anna Fitzgerald of Red Ball Theatre’s retelling of the Purim story at the Wild Purim Rumpus hosted by Charm City Tribe at the Creative Alliance.

Prior to joining the Creative Alliance, Kohn spent 11 years as the Programming Manager with the National Council for the Traditional Arts in Silver Spring and served as Program Officer, Jazz and Traditional Arts at Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. The Bucks County, Pa., native, who graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in American Studies, also completed a competitive fellowship with Devos Institute of Arts Management, now housed at the University of Maryland.

Knowing what the organization, which will celebrate its 21st birthday in style next year, means to the Baltimore arts scene, Kohn is working to strike the right balance.

“I look at my position as both curating really interesting, powerful, transformative events here at Creative Alliance and also be a conduit for the community. I try to keep the lines of communication open for what the Creative Alliance should be,” said Kohn.

This month is another busy one for Kohn and Creative Alliance. Tonight marks the release party for the Bumper Jacksons — whom Kohn describes as “one part old mountain music, three parts New Orleans jazz” — and the Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival and The Big Show Dance Party with Bachata Plus will take place in late June.


Sweetness of Freedom Memorial Day weekend welcomes Shavuot


(Photo ©Stock photo/Catherine Lane)

Memorial Day brings the holiday weekend that ushers in the beginning of everything summer. And Shavuot occurs at the same time, reminding us of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The Torah was given to the Jews, as their journey was one from misery to a country flowing with milk and honey. So, eating dairy on Shavuot commemorates the sweetness of freedom and the new life of the Jewish people.

And food is no exception for both celebrations. Fresh berries are making their early appearance, making me think about using them in dishes from light to hearty entree salads. What about making some good sandwiches for picnics at outdoor games? Don’t forget to try adding sun-dried tomatoes and a pesto spread for your regular turkey or even tuna sandwiches. Bring along some soft pita pockets, peasant bread slices, fresh sprouts, the filling and set up a mini-sandwich bar at your picnic!

Strolling through the produce, I see early strawberries and blueberries, but it’s those blackberries that really catch my eye. They are such a simple fruit — dark and juicy, and there is no question about their ripeness. Easy pickings. Eat them, bake them, and cook them, or simply garnish a fruit tray with them. It’s one of the “short harvest” things such as Honey Bell oranges in winter, fiddleheads and fresh peas. So grab them when you see them.

Here is a “buffet” of sorts to choose from that could enhance or create the holiday weekend menu.

• Enhance roasted cauliflower with a little sprayed olive oil and curry powder. Serve with fresh peas garnish.
• Warm two serving plates for hot foods by placing on top of your toaster oven while heating something.





A Music Man Memorial to beloved Pikesville native hit all the right notes

Steven Michael Stern (Provided)

Steven Michael Stern (Provided)

The room was filled with posters and statues of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest names — the Iron Lady, the Three Stooges and the Dark Knight — but the name on everyone’s mind that night at the Pikes Theater was not Christian Bale or Meryl Streep,  it was Steven Michael Stern.

Stern, raised in Pikesville, loved music from a young age and never stopped playing until the day he passed away from cancer at 47.

Although he hadn’t lived in the area for more than 20 years, his friends organized two memorial events, one on May 12 in Pikesville and the other in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where Stern lived with his wife and two children until his untimely death last month.

“He just started picking up instruments and playing them by the time he was 9,” said Maureen Kessler, Stern’s cousin. “He must have played 20 instruments.”

After discovering a passion for music, Stern joined a band, Prophecy, as a teenager.

“I think [the band] was very important because a lot of people knew him,” said Stern’s father, Linas Richard Stern.

Prophecy quickly grew in popularity through winning multiple battles of the bands.

“They were the cool, cute guys who played in a band,” said Danielle Stettner, another of Stern’s cousins.

Stern attended Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory and then the Berklee College of Music. After finishing school, he went on to compose with the world-renowned German film composer Hans Zimmer, under whose tutelage he helped to score films like “The Lion King,” “The Renaissance Man” and “I’ll Do Anything.” As the owner of Sternmusic/Catmandude Music he continued to score music for clients such as MGM, Fox Sports and CBS.

In 1999, Stern partnered with childhood friend Stuart Hart to create Selectracks Music Library.

“We’ve been friends since we were 10 years old,” said Hart. “He showed me my first guitar chords, and I ended up teaching him jazz proficiencies.”

Stern helped secure a deal to sell Selectracks to Bug Music, which was later acquired by APM Music. Immediately following both purchases, he was invited to serve as a senior vice president and vice president, respectively, for each company.

His last project, an APM custom music division called Resonate Music Group, boasts such credits such as “Lincoln,” the re-recording of the Baltimore Ravens’ fight song and “Hawaii Five-O. “

But one of Stern’s most notable accomplishments became the centerpiece of the memorial held at the Pikes. The celebration began with a video made by Allen Markow, a childhood friend and organizer of the event.

“Steven use to sit in his room and re-record scenes from videos with his own music,” said Markow.

The video Markow produced included pictures of Stern throughout his life with various family members and friends set to a background of music from Prophecy.

After watching the video, Stern’s friends did what he loved his entire life: They played music.

Stuart Keiser covered the song “Different Worlds,” originally co-written and produced by Stern. In 2012, the song reached No. 1 on the Australian iTunes charts after it was sung by a contestant on “The Voice Australia.”

Other performances at the Pikes included covers by Scott Lean and Scott Garfield, original members of the band Prophecy, Stuart Hart and Markow’s son, Alex, who performed Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” replacing the word “she” with “Steven.”

“He was our coast-to-coast music man,” said Kessler.


5K or Bouquet Unique ways to commemorate Mother’s Day

Participants in the Maryland Half Marathon and 5K, founded by Michael Greenebaum and Jon Sevel of Pikesville, are raising funds for the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, a research and teaching facility gifted by Greenebaum’s father, Stewart, and named in honor of his mother, Marlene, a two-time breast cancer survivor.

Now in its seventh year, the race, which typically falls on Mother’s Day weekend, has raised more than $2 million for cancer research, some of which has directly affected Greenebaum’s mother.

“Part of what I like about this whole story,” said Greenebaum, “is that I’m raising money for research,” and it’s Dr. Angela Hartley Brodie, professor of pharmacology and researcher at the Greenebaum Cancer Center who was so instrumental in developing a highly effective breast cancer treatment called aromatase inhibitors, the same class of drugs Greenebaum’s mother takes now, he said.

The race happens on May 9, in the Maple Lawn community of Howard County.

Jewish Women International is providing another special way to appreciate mothers. The Mother’s Day Flower Project is delivering a bouquet and small gifts to mothers living in battered women’s shelters across the United States for a $25 contribution. JWI will also send a Mother’s Day card to any woman a donor chooses to thank for being an inspiration and helping women in need.

“We started the Mother’s Day Flower Project to remember those women who are struggling to rebuild their lives and to remember those children, who are the youngest victims of abuse,” said Lori Weinstein, the organization’s CEO.

“People look forward to it every year,” said Faith Savill, community relations specialist at House of Ruth Maryland, Inc. in Baltimore, a recipient of the program for several years.

Savill said House of Ruth receives many vases of flowers, and they are displayed in common areas so all the clients can appreciate them. In addition, they receive dozens of bottles of OPI nail polish or other small beauty products for clients to choose from as well.

“When you’re experiencing trauma and you don’t have many things around you that belong to you,” she said, “it’s nice to be surrounded by things that are beautiful.”

To order a bouquet visit jwi.org/mothersday.


Scarf Maven

042415_scarfLocal businesswoman Terri Kane is best known to her national and international clientele as the “scarf maven.” Now she can add published author to her title with the release of her humorous memoir, “Scarf Maven Ties One On.”

With a whopping 28,000 scarves sold in the last four years, it’s clear that the Baltimore-based top-rated eBay seller’s shop is a vintage scarf collector’s dream. And with her background in costume design from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Kane is able to “separate the treasures from the trash.”

Among the longs and squares, silks and polyesters, shoppers can find collectibles from every era — 1940s scarves with “Made in Occupied Japan” printed on the label, paisley prints and Vera Neumann designs from the 1960s and bold patterns from the 1980s. In her hunt for quality scarves, Kane has come across Judith Leiber originals, Burberry, Valentino, Bob Mackey and an estimated six authentic Hermes scarves in good condition, which sold for approximately $300 apiece, a far cry from the $1,400 they may have originally retailed for.

Scarves, Kane said, are a more affordable way for women to wear a designer name.

“You may not be able to afford a Valentino gown or suit, but you can have a Valentino scarf or Hermes,” said Kane.

Though eBay is rampant with fakes, Kane has learned over time how to spot them. With fine European scarves, she explained, the hem is rolled in rather than under. Quality silk twill should have a cotton-like feel, and for vintage scarves, like classic Hermes, she looks for the names of commissioned artists’ embedded into the designs.

Kane ships orders nationally and internationally. This past week she shipped orders to Italy, France and Belgium and counts customers in Australia, the United Kingdom and Poland as regulars.

“It’s hard to find designs today,” she said. “It used to be that all department stores carried scarves, but now a lot don’t, or if they do, they’re very expensive.”

Though she is frequently asked to do shows, Kane has demurred, as it would disturb the meticulous scarf filing system she has set up in her home office. Only twice has she made exceptions.

Last year, when she was laid up in the hospital, her husband, Mike, got to speaking with the nurses. Somehow their scarf business came up in conversation, and soon an impromptu pop-up shop was running by Kane’s hospital bed with nursing staff and hospital administrators traipsing in out with their purchases. In a similar vein of making lemonade out of lemons, when their home was flooded and they had to stay in a hotel, the hotel’s staffers caught on to their business and bought up several of Kane’s lots.

After years of hearing the same questions — “How do I set up an online business? Where do you source your scarves?” — Kane decided it was time to pen a memoir, albeit one with a comedic edge. Woven through the 215-page book are helpful hints, family recipes and amusing anecdotes about the business and customers.

Though she does divulge some insight into where she sources her scarves — mostly through auction houses — don’t expect to find any customer lists. All names have been changed; even eBay is referred to by the tongue-in-cheek pseudonym VintageCartel.shop or V-Cart for short.

The best piece of advice she offers to those who ask is, “Listen to the customers, that’s the biggest thing. Tell the customers what you’ll do and do it. It sounds so simplistic, but you would be shocked by the number of people who won’t do that.”

Also threaded through the book are insights into the entrepreneurial couple’s past endeavors. Kane and Mike first went in on their own costume jewelry line in the 1980s and gained a following throughout the South, showcasing their wares in Atlanta and Dallas. With big box stores encroaching on mom-and-pop shops, Kane sold the business but retained the name Terriart.

The couple’s next foray into business was through chocolates.

“We sold to a lot of general stores, and they told us that they wanted something other than Russell Stover,” she said. “We went out and found a chocolate line when sugar-free started getting big, and suddenly, we were in the candy business.”

They transitioned that business into helping regional candy lines go national and others expand into the kosher market.

Kane began working on the book in earnest a year ago, though this is not her first foray into writing. She wrote for Charlotte Magazine and for the Charlotte Observer in her native North Carolina, and for nearly 10 years she has been the facilitator of the Baltimore Jewish Writers’ Guild, which meets monthly at the Owings Mills JCC.

Twenty years ago, the Kanes, looking for a change of scenery, stumbled across a front-page newspaper story on Baltimore’s emerging Jewish community. They decided to pull up stakes and head north. In a twist of fate, their home in Charlotte sold in less than a week to a couple from Owings Mills.

In addition to the writers’ guild, Kane is active in Hadassah and started the Hadassah chapterwide book club.


Bridging Sounds, Bridging Cultures

Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel got the pre-tour jitters in anticipation for his American tour — changing the set list, figuring out how to incorporate his band into the performance and even tinkering with his own instrument.

“I’ve been waiting for this tour for a long time,” he said. He decided to perform on a grand piano as opposed to electric keyboards and kick off the concert by himself.

When he takes the stage at Washington’s Lincoln Theatre Wednesday, April 22, he may even start with some intimate improvisation.

“I want to go onstage for the first time and to share my heart, to sing, not even things that I plan in advance,” he said, “to sing and to play to the audience just by myself in a very intimate way.”

One by one, he’ll bring out the members of his band until the stage is full. And with the diversity of musicians performing with him, the audience may need that gradual addition to digest the wealth of diverse talent they’re seeing. There’s Gilad Shmueli, Raichel’s co-producer, who, he said, is an “incredible drummer and percussion player.” There’s Yogev Glusman, a violinist and bass player from Argentina; Marc Kakon, an oud and guitar player who came to Israel from Casablanca, Morocco; and woodwind master Eyal Sela.

Idan Raichel performs at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 22. (Provided)

Idan Raichel performs at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 22. (Provided)

“I was a fan of his when I was in high school,” Raichel said of Sela. “I used to go to all of his concerts, and I’m very honored and lucky that he agreed to play with me and my band.”

Raichel and his band will also be joined by three singers: Ethiopian-Israeli Avi Wassa; Cabra Casay, Raichel’s Ethiopian backup leader who came to Israel from the refugee camps of Sudan; and Maya Avraham, a singer with Egyptian roots and Indian and Arabic influences.

For Raichel, who sings in Hebrew, Arabic and Amharic — the sounds on the streets of Tel Aviv — collaborating with musicians from various backgrounds is something he has done from the beginning.

“I think that every collaboration holds in itself a story and a tribute to life,” he said.

He’s performed with neo-soul singer India Arie, Palestinian musician Ali Amr and classical Baroque singer Andreas Scholl. He and Amr performed alongside Alicia Keys in Central Park in New York City at the Global Citizen Festival, singing “We Are Here,” a song Keys wrote calling out for peace.

If people remember us as ‘Israeli music’ it will mean a lot for us … if people take it as the soundtrack of Israel for the last decade or two.

Raichel grew up in Kfar Saba, near Tel Aviv, and started playing keyboards in high school, concentrating in jazz. In the army, Raichel served as a musician, performing Israeli and European pop hits at various military bases with the military band.

“I think it affected me a lot because soldiers are the most honest audience after kids,” he said. “If they are bored, you will see it. If they are happy, you will see it. If they are excited, you will see it. If they are tired, you will see it. So I think it prepared me for the toughest audiences all over the world.”

After spending time backing other Israeli musicians, Raichel started his own project. In 2003, his first single, “Bo’ee” propelled him to fame in Israel. The Idan Raichel Project’s 2006 album, “Cumbancha” established a global audience.

Raichel, who draws on folk music as a major influence, found that once he toured outside of Israel — where his music was considered Israeli music — people defined his genre as “world music.”

“What defines ‘world music’ is it’s artists who are bringing the soundtrack of the place where they are coming from,” he said. “If people remember us as ‘Israeli music’ it will mean a lot for us … if people take it as the soundtrack of Israel for the last decade or two.”

Although relations between Raichel’s home country and the United States have been rocky of late, he said he feels welcome when he comes to America, even though sometimes there are protesters calling for boycotts of Israeli music.

“Very often, I go out to the people who protest and I even offer them a tea. I think that the one thing you can tell about these people are they care; otherwise they would not stand outside on the sidewalks and protest,” he said. “I think that dialogue between people is the most important thing.”

And coming from a volatile region, he sees the exchange of cultures as a crucial part of creating dialogue.

“I think sharing culture — even if there is a conflict, there is a lack of dialogue — you should know your neighbor, know your enemy, just to create a dialogue and then people can build bridges,” he said. “You get to know the daily life, the heart of the people, the heart of the culture, and music is definitely one of the most accessible tools.”

The Idan Raichel Project performs at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St., NW, Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 22. Tickets are $45 to $55, and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Visit bit.ly/1NybHJE for tickets and info.


Stepping Up Her Game

Roland Park Country School senior Jenna Baverman will compete for Team Israel at the Women’s 2015 U19 Lacrosse World Championship in Scotland this summer. (Photos Provided)

Roland Park Country School senior Jenna Baverman will compete for Team Israel at the Women’s 2015 U19 Lacrosse World Championship in Scotland this summer. (Photos Provided)

On a chilly Sunday morning, the ground still wet from a recent snowfall, Jenna Baverman runs through lacrosse drills, showing off her speed, strength and intensity with every move. She radiates power borne out of long hours in the gym and a commitment to keeping her body in peak performance readiness.

It is little wonder then that the 5-foot 6-inch senior from Roland Park Country School has been selected to compete for Team Israel in the FIL Rathbones Women’s 2015 U19 Lacrosse World Championship held at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from July 23 to August 1.

There she will test her skills against 15 other international teams, even squaring off against some of her club lacrosse teammates who will be playing for Team USA.

Last weekend, Baverman scored the winning goal in a Team Israel scrimmage game against Hewlett High Schoool in New York. She and her family brought along 200 lacrosse sticks, which will be sent to Israeli children.

Israel’s U19 Head Coach Hannah Deoul is a Pikesville native who graduated from McDonogh School and went on to be named a first-team All-American at Middlebury College. She made aliyah in October and now resides in Ashkelon, Baltimore’s sister city, and plays for the Israel women’s national lacrosse team in addition to her coaching duties.

040315_lacrosse2“Jenna’s immediate contribution to any team or even person is her contagious positive energy and drive,” Deoul says of Baverman. “This summer, she will serve as an inspiration, teacher and role model to her fellow Israeli-born teammates. Her knowledge of the game and her hustle on the field will set the tone I am looking for as a coach.”

Deoul spotted Bavernman’s talent when Baverman participated in the Team Israel National Developmental Program this past winter, which took U19 and U17 players to Israel and Belgium for competition and touring. By Baverman’s estimation, 40 girls and 60 boys participated in the program. Of the 40 girls, only three, including Baverman, were American, in accordance with rules governing international competition.

Her impact on the team led her to be named captain, but it is clear that her Israeli teammates and the country left a lasting impression on her, too.

“I had learned about Israel for 10 years [at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School] and it was awesome to be there and see everything I had learned about, and to grow the game there was a great experience,” says Baverman. “Ever since I left I wanted to go back. I was super bummed to be home.”

Baverman will return to Israel in late June to participate in a unique Taglit-Birthright trip, the result of a partnership between the Israel Lacrosse Association and Amazing Israel. Baverman will again tour the country, teaching the sport to young Israeli girls and compete in exhibition lacrosse games before joining the U19 team for training and travel to the United Kingdom.

Baverman took an unusual route to lacrosse. Initially she was a softball player, but found the game too slow. She gave lacrosse a try in middle school and a year after the switch she started looking for a competitive club team.

Enter Michael McLaughlin, owner of Sky Walkers Lacrosse Program.

McLaughlin noticed Baverman’s power and personality right away, but felt her exposure to lacrosse had not been great up to that point and he felt that she needed to switch from offense to defense.

Baverman now successfully plays midfield for Sky Walkers and low-defense for Roland Park.

“She took to it and started developing. It was immediately obvious that she was progressing to become a collegiate athlete,” says McLaughlin.

Much of that progress can be attributed to Baverman’s intense training schedule. She works out with Doug Klopacz, a former Pennsylvania State University football player, at Sweat Performance in Baltimore, the preferred workout venue of Ravens football players and other pro-athletes.

Klopacz works with Baverman on strength training, including weight lifting — she can lift 275 pounds and is “constantly breaking personal records” — to help with speed and footwork and protect her body from injury.

“Pound for pound, her being an almost 18-year-old female athlete, she is one of the strongest athletes in the gym,” says Klopacz.

In addition to being named lacrosse team captain at school, Baverman is a member of the varsity basketball team and is an honor roll student. To balance her athletic and academic responsibilities, she sticks to a strict schedule.

This fall, Baverman will play Division 1 lacrosse at Hofstra University in New York under head coach Shannon Smith.

Baverman plans on applying for Israeli citizenship so she can eventually compete on the national lacrosse team.

Said McLaughlin, “When you look at the development of Jenna and see where she started and where she is now, she is one of the better players playing lacrosse at her age and she’s also become a leader and that deserves special attention.”


Schmuck Takes on Klezmer Baltimore band presents classic Jewish music in tongue-in-cheek manner

For Evan Tucker, all signs point to klezmer.

The violinist grew up playing classical music and got into pop music as a teenager, but neither quite felt right to him.

“When you grew up in Pikesville — for me going to Schechter and then Beth Tfiloh — that experience has to be filtered through Jewish music one way or another,” Tucker, 33, said. “My problems in the pop world are my same problems in the classical world: It doesn’t feel like a mother tongue. For some reason, Jewish music does feel like a mother tongue.”


Photo by Marc Shapiro


And so, a few months ago, Tucker assembled a group of Baltimore-area musicians to form a klezmer band flippantly named Schmuck.

While the band plays traditional, classic klezmer songs, the presentation is hardly traditional. On its Facebook page, the band lists its genre as “unkosher klezmer” and interests include bacon, shrimp, cheeseburgers, the media and a variety of other playful pokes at Tucker’s people.

“Over and over people ask, ‘Why did you name the band Schmuck? Won’t you offend some people?’” he told the audience at a recent concert at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. “Yes, but you’ll never forget the name of this band.”

For Tucker, the band name is a way of asserting the group and giving it an edge.

“I wanted a way of immediately signifying to people that this is not just klezmer as it’s generally practiced,” he said. “Fundamentally, we want to be something that can both appeal to the Park Heights Avenue crowd and the North Avenue crowd,” referring to the Station North Arts and Entertainment District in Baltimore.

At its Creative Alliance show on March 8, part of Charm City Tribe’s Wild Purim Rumpus event, the band was decked out in yarmulkes, although Tucker is the only Jewish member; the Facebook lists members as “Whole Lotta Goyim.”

The six-piece band belted out traditional klezmer songs with their eerie European/Middle Eastern tones as Tucker sang in Yiddish and bounced up and down as the songs sped up.

“The whole point of the Jewish scale, what we call the freygish scale, it’s not quite minor, it’s not quite major, but it sounds minor key-like enough that it sounds sad,” Tucker said.

“But the thing is, it’s usually played so quickly, so it gets that sort of bittersweet feel that you don’t get in too many other cultures.”

Evan Tucker (center) leads “unkosher klezmer” band Schmuck during a recent performance at Charm City Tribe’s Wild Purim Rumpus at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. Photo by Marc Shapiro

Evan Tucker (center) leads “unkosher klezmer” band Schmuck during a recent performance at Charm City Tribe’s Wild Purim Rumpus at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. Photo by Marc Shapiro

In addition to his new klezmer effort, Tucker also plays violin in local gypsy/Slavic jazz group Orchester Praževica and directs a cappella choir Kol Rinah, which operates out of Chizuk Amuno Congregation. For him, Jewish music is inescapable, especially the klezmer.

“It’s in the background of every kid who grows up in Pikesville without them even realizing it’s there,” Tucker said.

For his non-Jewish bandmates, playing in Schmuck has been a learning experience.

Brannock Reilly, the band’s soprano saxophone player, said his time in the band has been “baptism by fire” in learning about klezmer.

“I like the melodies, I like the feel of it,” Reilly, who also plays in Orchester Praževica, said. “It’s a lot of fun to play.”

Bassist Zach Serleth, who’s been playing klezmer for a few years, said the genre contrasts well with the music he’s used to playing — bluegrass and old-timey music that’s usually in major keys.

“Those kinds of note choices and darker melodies are really interesting to me in the folk world,” he said. “The music’s a little bit more complex. It’s a little more arranged. It’s got this darkness to it.”

And how did the non-Jewish band members feel about the band name?

“We didn’t do it to offend anyone, but it makes people talk about it. We’re not trying to be malicious,” Serleth said.

“We’re just trying to take this beautiful part of Jewish culture, this form of music that not a lot of people know and give it to the people in a very digestible way that they wouldn’t normally otherwise hear.”

Schmuck plays at Liam Flynn’s Ale House, 22 W North Ave., Baltimore, every Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.