September 13, 2007
Trio of performers aiming for bite of pop music pie
(Page 3 - Previous Page)His first CD, "Protocols," has been getting very good reviews, his videos on YouTube are downloaded regularly and he has a busy enough performing schedule to suit his desires.
"I have a son in college; he has the ability to work on music full time, if that is what he chooses," Rav Shmuel said. "As for success, I'm always gratified if it happens. But I wouldn't want to give up teaching."
It was teaching, oddly enough, that helped him make the creative breakthrough that allowed him to begin performing his own material.
"When I started writing, all my stuff sounded like 'color war' camp songs, but I kept at it," he recalls. "When I got my first full-time teaching job at a Modern Orthodox school in Queens, I brought my guitar to class, and the kids said, 'Oh, that's so cool.'
"I started listening to the music they were into, and when I heard Pearl Jam's '10,' I was completely blown away," he said. "That inspired me to start writing again. Eddie Vedder is postmodern. He conveys his ideas in snatches and phrases; it's not narrative. That opened me up to all sorts of possibilities."
That was a long time ago, and Rav Shmuel has come a long way as a writer and as a performer. On stage, his manner is cheerful, a little goofy, but friendly and intimate in a way that probably wouldn't translate to the big arenas that Matisyahu is now filling. So for the present, he is happy to be teaching fulltime and playing folk (or anti-folk) clubs.
After all, that's where Bob Dylan started, and he was the first Matisyahu of rock 'n' roll.
Modular Moods has new CDs by Yuri Lane ("Human Beatbox") and Lane and Y-Love ("Count It: Sefirah") available at http://www.modularmoods.com
Y-Love regularly posts new tracks to his MySpace page http://www.myspace.com/Ylove, as does Lane http://www.myspace.com/yurilane.
Rav Shmuel's CD "Protocols" is available on the Jewish Music Group label at http://www.jewishmusicgroup.com/. He is also on MySpace http://www.myspace.com/ravshmuel.