Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Nu? Jah swing.

So I'm watching my favorite new TV program, New York Noise (channel 25 for any Time Warner NYC cable subscribers out there), and this video starts rolling --- I missed the artist/song info at the very front. Sounds at first like some bad indie soul, white-guy-with-beard edition. Then the shiny reggae begins and --- oy --- it's Jammy time. But there's something vaguely compelling going on. The song continues to shift, the lyrics come fast and furious, the pace ebbs and flows, the band gets tight and the singer is really that a talis?....and he's an Orthodox Jew. And he's really good at what sounds like Jamaican patois. Or is it Hebrew? Yiddish? It's all going by kind of fast. After his second stage dive --- the video is of a live performance --- he adjusts the yarmulke and brings it on home, with authority.

So it was Manisyahu, hasidic reggae superstar. His album broke in April. Brooklyn Vegan, as ever, was way out in front last month, at the record release performance at Irving. This has novelty act written all over it, but there was something extremely compelling about the perfomance, as Manisyahu found natural links between the overt religiosity of reggae and his own faith, and the keening sing-song of Hebrew prayer and the bounce of Jamaican dancehall. Early in 05 Amazon tapped Manisyahu to select his "music you should hear" list.

Anyway [cue violins], it reminded me of a time, pre-120 Mintues even, when one was never quite sure what video would come on next, and the joy of discovering something new. V66, anyone?


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