Well-traveled klezmer band performs

The Klezmaniacs, an East Coast band with extensive performing experience in the region of Europe where klezmer music was born, plays at Bates College at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in Chase Hall, Campus Avenue. The public is invited at no charge.

“We like our audiences to be actively involved in our music,” says Ken Richmond, a Jewish Theological Seminary cantorial student and violinist who founded the Klezmaniacs in 1995. “Instead of a concert mood, we try to recreate the feel of a Russian beer-hall – with a family atmosphere.”

Between 1995 and 2000, the band performed more than 200 times at all manner of family and community events. In 2000, the Klezmaniacs traveled to Poland, Ukraine and Israel in search of the historical roots of klezmer music, a form sometimes referred to as “Jewish jazz.”

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Yale Strom (The Last Klezmer) filmed the tour and is editing the footage for a documentary.

The other members of the band are singer Shira Shazeer, pianist Ben Gerson, trombonist Jason Moses, trumpeter Billy Shube, violinist Michelle Bernstein and whiz-kid clarinetist Josh Martin, who still attends high school in Massachusetts. The Klezmaniacs’ latest CD is Sveet Like Herring Vit Potatoes: Live from the Old Country.

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