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Lox & Vodka coming to Kepler Theater stage

February 03, 1999

Lox and VodkaBy KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer




Lox & Vodka, the Washington, D.C.-based Klezmer ensemble, defines Klezmer music as "Jewish soul music."

You can get a taste of it Saturday night at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater. Lox & Vodka's music has Yiddish, Israeli, Russian and American flavors.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Klezmer music takes its name from the klezmorim of the Middle Ages in Europe - itinerant musicians who traveled from shtetl (village) to shtetl, playing for Jewish weddings and other celebrations.

Klezmer music came to the United States with European immigrants and met up with American jazz. The Depression put an end to the growth of Klezmer music, and its audience dwindled as changes in immigration quotas reduced the number of Jews coming into the country, according to information provided by Caron Dale, Lox & Vodka's founder, business manager and vocalist-guitarist.

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A revival of the music came about in the late 1970s, and Lox & Vodka came together in 1984. It was a group of people who loved the music of their culture - whether the lox or the vodka - and would get together and jam, Dale says.

Dale grew up with the music, singing Shabbat or Sabbath songs every Friday night with her grandparents. Lox & Vodka's personnel has changed, but the group's dedication to the continuation of Klezmer music has not.

"Being a Jew is more than a religion - it's a lifestyle," Dale says. She says she doesn't know how observantly religious she is, but Dale says she is very spiritual. The music is the expression of her spirituality, she says.

Dale is confident enough in being American to be able to delve into her heritage. "My goal is to reach both Jews and non-Jews," she says.

Lox & Vodka books about 70 engagements a year. "We'll go anywhere anyone will take us in," Dale says.

That has included performances at folk and ethnic festivals, Smithsonian Institution, President Clinton's inaugural, MCI Center's opening ceremony, a stint as artists in residence at Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage and two previous Mountain Green concerts.

"It's more than just a concert," says David Fitzwater of Mountain Green Cultural Arts Association, the group sponsoring the concert. There's a lot of shtick, and Dale usually leads a hora - a lively Israeli folk dance, Fitzwater says. He says Dale is a "stitch," and he expects that anyone who has seen them before will want to see them again.

A Lox & Vodka performance is not a "sit back and let me entertain you" show, Dale says.

"Part of what we do is tell a story. The audience is part of it," Dale says.

"We've got a gab going on," Dale says of the ensemble. The individual members have talents beyond music, and the show is very reflective of its performers, she adds.

The other members of Lox & Vodka are Tom Puwalski, clarinet, flute, saxophone and vocals; Eric Richards, keyboard and trombone; Allen Puwalski, accordion and trumpet; Brett Schaffer, percussion; and Jon Nazdin on bass.

Lox & Vodka has two recordings.

"Celebrate Shabbat," a new release, is a collection of favorite Sabbath songs for families with children.

"Heavy Shtetl" is a 17-track CD featuring traditional pieces performed with the group's contemporary sensibilities. The album's three original tunes include, "Virtual Klezmer," composed on a computer.

"Everything old is new again," Dale says.




Lox & Vodka

Sponsored by Mountain Green Concerts

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 6, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Kepler Theater

    Hagerstown Community College

    Robinwood Drive

    Hagerstown

  • Details: Klezmer, Israeli, Yiddish,Russian and American music
  • Tickets: $15 for adults and $5 for children younger than 18. Call 301-790-2800, ext. 309.
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