By Larry Gordon
This past Tuesday here in Cedarhurst the summertime concert series featured a Beach Boys copycat band that drew a big crowd and a sound that was not very close to the real thing. The audience included lots of locals from the Orthodox Jewish community, with many singing along with the band.
Sure, it’s rock ‘n roll, but how can anyone argue with the melodic harmony of the Beach Boys, the real ones or this band? It’s a sound mostly reminiscent of the 1960s and part of the 1970s, but it conjures up a period in our history that was perhaps dominated by the innocence of the time.
In about ten days, the gazebo in the same park will feature the annual Jewish concert with headliner Yoni Z accompanied by the Shloime Dachs Orchestra. The much-anticipated event is sponsored by Gourmet Glatt along with an impressive list of other businesses. This is a show unlike any other in that it is free and draws thousands of people not just from the Five Towns but from other parts of Long Island as well as the five boroughs.
At this point we do not know what the mask policy will be for these outdoor events, though it will likely be a mix of masked and unmasked folks. As I pointed out in my From the Editor column that begins on the front page, there is a significant amount of confusion about what is the best thing to do under these constantly changing corona circumstances.
We were all hoping that the regular concert season would be back this year in full form, and there is still hope that it will be back after more than a year off. Mayor de Blasio announced the other day that beginning in September you will need a card that confirms that you are vaccinated if you want to dine indoors in any of the five boroughs. The same ID will be required to enter a gym or a theater, and we do not know yet how that will impact on the anticipated chol ha’moed Sukkos shows that we all missed so much last year.
Eli Gerstner has been producing some of the most popular annual chol ha’moed shows and other concert events for years. He says that there are excellent shows planned for this year, but the introduction of the new regulations may create the need for adjustments.
Last year, almost all such concerts were shifted to virtual or online events. “They were popular and viewed by thousands of people,” Gerstner says, “but a live audience enhances the enjoyment of yom tov for many people, so to that end I hope the show can go on.”
The first really big indoor show in a while will take place in Brooklyn on August 26. It might be the first major appearance in a New York show for Ishay Ribo, one of the most talented singers and songwriters to burst onto the Jewish music scene in a very long time.
The words and lyrics written by Ishay Ribo have caught by surprise and even overwhelmed the young generations of music connoisseurs. Had we not been dealing with the fact that so many venues were shut down last year, you may have become more of an Ishay Ribo fan than your kids are.
The Ishay Ribo concert will be taking place at the Kings Theatre on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. I haven’t been in that theater in a few decades, but I do know that it was once a movie theater that was busy every night of the year, especially on Saturday nights. The theater, which features classic architecture that has been rebuilt and remodeled, now seats 3,300 people. As of last week 2,800 tickets were already sold. People desperately want to sing with Ishay Ribo and even dance in the aisles.
According to sources in the industry, the fee to bring Ribo here to perform at a wedding or for any other occasion is $50,000. He is accompanied by an entourage and a few of his own musicians, which can explain the exorbitant cost.
Now a few words about the great number of weddings and bar mitzvahs that will be taking place this month and the live bands that will once again be busy almost every night of the week.
“This is going to be a very busy and very good month,” said Aaron Teitelbaum of the band that features his name. Because of the way yom tov falls out on the calendar, most weddings are packed into August. Elul occurs next week and camp is ending early, so at least your babysitters will be back in town, allowing you to stay out late if you prefer.
“We are much busier this year,” says Shloime Dachs. “But it seems that guest lists are being scaled back, and even though our major venues are fully open, fewer people are attending weddings. One of the changes I have heard about is that grandparents are not inviting their friends to attend their grandchildren’s weddings,” he adds.
For some reason, over the last year and a half, New Jersey has been a lot less strict about enforcement in terms of public events. As a result, people who live a few blocks away from us decided to take their wedding to Lakewood, New Jersey—75 miles away. That’s quite a shlep from the Five Towns, but if it has to be done you just do it. The problem is when you spend more time traveling to and from a wedding than at the actual wedding itself.
Earlier this year I attended two weddings in Brooklyn where we had to pass by garbage dumps to enter through rear doors in order to get into the hall.
I had two weddings last week, one local and one in New Jersey—but not as far as Lakewood. Still, we spent a total of four hours traveling to and from the wedding and about two hours at the wedding. It took close to an hour to crawl in the direction of the Holland Tunnel. The usual problem is the volume of cars, along with the fact that six lanes of traffic are reduced to two lanes a few hundred feet before the entrance to the tunnel. Who thought that this was an acceptable highway design?
That same day was the bris of my sister and brother-in-law’s grandson. (Mazal Tov, Rachel and Yehuda!) The bris was supposed to be at 7 a.m. that Sunday, so we were going to come back home, run some errands, and then leave to the wedding. Before Shabbos, my sister said that the bris would not be taking place Sunday morning. A few hours later we received a note announcing that it would indeed be taking place that day, but at 7 p.m.
So we left to the wedding early but then had no choice but to leave the wedding and head to Brooklyn via the Holland Tunnel. We both agreed that at least we were exhausted from attending simchas, baruch Hashem.
Later this month we have three weddings on three consecutive nights. There will be lots of great music there and we are looking forward to those happy events as our friends marry off their children. None of the three weddings are in Lakewood.
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