1. Bentzi plays guitar, bass, and drums
2. Shmuel wrote two children’s books (The Beadle and Ballad of the Yarmulke Kid), and a book of poems and short stories about his experiences in Ukraine (Chicken Kiev)
3. “8th Day” refers to Shemini Atzeres (and it’s also Shmuel’s birthday)
4. Before 8th Day, Bentzi sang backup vocals on his uncle Avraham Fried’s albums
5. Shmuel’s wife grew up together with MBD’s family
“Right now I’m mixing the latest HASC concert,” says composer-turned-producer Eli Gerstner, whose most ambitious project to date is producing this show, an annual tradition. “The recording has well over 100 tracks. Today, each element of the music is recorded separately — the 16 musicians, the kick drum, the snare drum, the hi-hat, each and every vocalist. Each of these tracks has to be perfected to its best advantage, so that they can all be heard in the mix. Keep in mind that I can only view 20 tracks at a time on my computer screen, and you’ll get an idea of how complex this is.”
A lot of people think that the mixing of tracks is unique to the digital music age, but the truth is that even analog music had multiple tracks: first two, then four tracks, then eight. The tracks were recorded separately on huge tape reels, then synced together.
“My own first album had 24 tracks,” remembers Gerstner, “but now, in the digital age, the sky’s the limit. HASC 31 is a three-hour show with over 100 tracks, so just the audio version — sans video — is almost 200 gigabytes. That’s huge.”
Since his last solo album in 2010 (Kumzitz — The Early Years, a listening fest of old kumzitz favorites), Shloime Dachs has been busy with his orchestra. But he’ll soon be releasing a new single in which he sings together with his son Dovid, appropriately titled “Kabeid es Avicha.”
“We were at a Pesach hotel when we met Leiby Fruchter,” says Dachs. “He told me he’d like us to sing a new song he had composed. As soon as I heard the tune, I loved it, and we recorded it right before Dovid’s voice broke.”
Veteran producer Dovid Nachman Golding hosts a walk down musical memory lane
If you had asked me as a teenager what I planned to do for a living, Jewish music producer wouldn’t have even made it onto the list. Well, the One Above had different plans.
It was Purim 1977 when I met Suki Berry at a Yeshiva Torah Vodaath chagigah. He was playing in the band and I remember asking someone, “Who’s that guy playing keyboard? He sounds great!”
During a break I introduced myself, and, for some reason, I asked him what he planned on doing that summer. He told me that, starting in August, he was going to Israel to learn for a year. I asked if he would want to be a counselor with me in Camp Agudah of Toronto. No, he said; he’d never gone to camp, and didn’t even know how to play baseball.
“You teach me music, and I’ll teach you baseball,” I replied.
Today, many years later, he still doesn’t know what a stolen base is, and I still can’t play or sing.
Still, Suki and I had a great summer in camp. On the flight back to New York, I asked him, “How about making a wedding album before you go to Israel?” Impossible, he said; he was leaving for Israel in three days. “Plenty of time,” I replied, and the next morning we were in a studio in Manhattan, recording our very first album. This was the first time a synthesizer was used on a Jewish record. It was an electric sound that gave the whole recording a special, lively energy.
On the way home from the studio that night, we tried to come up with a name for the album. We thought of “Suki and his Synthesizer,” but as soon as someone suggested “Suki with a Touch of Ding,” we knew it was a winner. That’s how Suki and Ding began.
I remember getting a call soon after from someone in Denver, asking how two Japanese guys can produce Jewish music. But it didn’t take long for our brand to become familiar. Once I was on a plane and the guy next to me asked, “Are you Ding?” I replied in the affirmative, to which he replied, “Wow! What a pleasure it is to meet you! Do you sing?”
I replied in all honesty, “Not at all.”
“Oh,” he responded, looking a bit dismayed. “So you play an instrument, correct?”
“Nope,” I said, starting to feel like I knew what was coming.
He shrugged and said, “Hmm, I thought you were talented...”
Now, what exactly does a producer do? Simply put, everything but the singing and playing. The producer comes up with a concept, decides on the singer(s), picks the appropriate songs, hires the musicians, comes up with the budget, arranges the artwork, handles the advertising campaign, and manages everything else involved in getting the project off the ground and selling. I guess it’s like being a party planner, business manager, and color war general all wrapped into one. Sometimes the decisions are risky and involve large sums of money. Sometimes people’s feeling and egos are at stake. Then there’s deciding what’s for lunch at rehearsal (no joke — it can cause a riot).
And back at that 1977 Purim chagigah, I thought it was as simple as getting Suki to the studio.…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 673)