Strom’s socialist singspiel soothes Sunday’s squally storms 1

No better way to  pass a rainy Sunday afternoon than a concert at the Workman’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Los Angeles. There, the cultural anthropologist and klezmer guy, Yale Strom, his string bass player Mark Dresser, and the sultry songstress Elizabeth Schwartz presented a program of socialist-themed Yiddish music.

Strom, a torrid fiddler, is deeply steeped in Yiddishkeit, European Jewish cultural history. The program was dedicated to Victor Berger, a prominent early socialist, the first elected socialist member of the U.S. House of Representatives who was close to Eugene Debs. A highlight of the musical tour, which began in Europe and ended in the U.S., was this anti-tsarist soldier’s dirge from Russia.

“Vemen Veln Mir Dinen, Brider [Whom Shall We Serve, Brothers?]”

Vemen veln mir dinen, brider? Who will we serve, brothers?
Vemen veln mir dinen, brider? Who will we serve, brothers?
Dem rusishn keyser, brider, The Russian tsar, brothers!
Dem rusishn keyser, brider, The Russian tsar, brothers!
Dem rusishn keyser dinen iz nit gut, It’s no good to serve the Russian Tsar
Vayl er tut zikh bodn in undzer blut. Because he bathes in our blood.

source: Klezmer & the Kremlin: Soviet Yiddish Folk Songs of the 1930s

In a separate video, the klezmer couple, joined by an accordion player, inspires an impromptu line dance. Watch the gent in white shirt — quite a dancer!


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One comment on “Strom’s socialist singspiel soothes Sunday’s squally storms

  1. Erica Miner Mar 28,2012 4:54 pm

    What fun! My father was born in a shtetl in the Ukraine, so I have ‘history’ there, and I’m writing about something related to that right now. Thanks for sharing!

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