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Klez-mania comes to town

Klez-mania comes to town

Wellington’s eight-piece klezmer band the Klezmer Rebs journey to Auckland to spread their unique brand of 'klez-mania' in three Auckland gigs including two with home-town international band the Jews Brothers.

Hot on the release of their new CD Klezmer Rebs Live @ the Wellington Folk Festival, Wellington’s Jewish / eastern european / ethnic / folk band the Klezmer Rebs are coming to Auckland this weekend as part of the Auckland Jewish Arts Festival, playing a benefit concert (with the Jews Brothers) for Kadimah College on 22 July at the Mount Albert War Memorial Hall, St Lukes. Tickets will be available through or contact Adina Halpern 09 378 7997 or 029 200 7440

The Rebs will also play a folk club gig at The Bunker in Devonport (21 July) and an afternoon with fellow klezmorim the Jews Brothers at Rakinos (23 July, 3pm). For more details on the shows, check out For media enquiries contact

David Weinstein
Klezmer Rebs member and band manager
Contacts for gigs and events
04 233 0003 home 021 077 6069 cell email website

So enjoy it already!

The Klezmer Rebs music
OK, so most of the Rebs songs are 100 or more years old. Some are from scratchy turn-of-the century recordings (Ot azoy), some are more familiar folk standards (Tum Balalaika, Ochi Chornye), there’s a socialist anthem (Ale Brider), a 40’s Andrew Sisters hit (Bay Mir Bistu Shein) and even a Jews Brothers band cover (She’s My Girl). They also play some originals, and the odd French, Russian and even Latin songs.

The Klezmer Rebs shows will feature songs from their new CD Klezmer Rebs Live @ the Wellington Folk Festival, which is only available at local gigs (for $20) through the website or directly from David Weinstein, . The CD captures the infectiously upbeat Klezmer Rebs in full flight, and features amazing solos by our wunderkind Swiss clarinet player Urs Signer. See them live and you won’t be able to keep to your seat!

Nu? So what’s a klezmer?!
Klezmer (composed of the Hebrew words kley and zemer meaning ‘vessels of song’ or more freely translated ‘musical instrument’) is an engaging style of world/folk music born out of the Yiddish/Jewish culture of eastern Europe in the 1800s and 1900s. Klezmer musicians were the itinerant fringe dwellers in the Jewish shtetl or ghettos (made famous by the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’) in the Pale of Settlement (from Germany, Poland Hungary, Romania eastward through Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia) who provided music, a centrepiece in every Jewish wedding and other celebrations. The musicians (klezmorim - as they were called) were not highly regarded in the shtetl as they were often irreligious and secular, couldn’t read or write music, and hung out with, drank and played with Gypsies. They often sang for their supper (and schnapps!) and were frequently paid by the song.

Klezmer music strives to evoke the sound (and joys and sorrows!) of the human voice, and its melodies and stylings originated in Jewish liturgical music. There are a number of musical forms of Klezmer, ranging from free-flowing improvisational Doinas, to syncopated-beat Bulgars, and joyous celebratory Freylachs for dancing. Most klezmer songs are in the Yiddish language, and tell poignant and humorous slice-of-life stories of life in the ‘old country’ as well as the travails of adapting to life in America (as in Die Griene kuzine or the ‘Green Cousin’).

The Jews who emigrated to America in the 1880’s to early 1900s brought klezmer music with them. In the New World, klezmer was heavily influenced by early jazz and then swing, and continues to evolve. There has been a worldwide revival of klezmer music since the 1980s. Nowadays klezmer enjoys tremendous popularity with many festivals each year in the US, Canada, Europe, and now New Zealand. There are four NZ bands (that we know of) that play some form of klezmer music – Chutzpah! from Dunedin, Surfing USSR from Christchurch, the Klezmer Rebs from Wellington, and Auckland’s own Jews Brothers.

Klezmer Rebs - Band information

The Klezmer Rebs are an 8 piece Wellington band that plays klezmer music, an engaging style of world/folk music born out of the Yiddish/Jewish culture of eastern Europe in the 1800s and 1900s. Klezmer then went to America and in the early 1900s began to fuse with jazz and swing. There has been a worldwide revival of klezmer music since the 1980s.

The Klezmer Rebs were partly inspired by Hershel and the Jews Brothers about 5 years ago – the Jew Brothers played and Reb David and Reb Rose’s wedding. The founding Rebs formed as a breakaway from another group (hence the ‘Rebs’) and have been playing together since 2002. ‘Reb’ is also a Yiddish term of respect given to a learned person.

Instrumentation includes guitar and mandolin, violin, clarinet, accordion, keyboards, trumpet, trombone, recorder, bass and vocals. About half of the group members are Jewish, 3 are ex-Yanks, one Brit, and we have a wild young clarinet player from Switzerland whose playing captures the true klezmer spirit.

The Rebs have played weddings, community festivals, and bars/clubs in Wellington and Auckland. Highlights include Bar Bodega, the first ever NZ Klezmer Festival Wellington’s Blue Note with Dunedin klezmer band Chutzpah!, and as a headline band at the 2005 Wellington Folk Festival. Other recent gigs include sharing the bill at Rakino’s in Auckland in 2005 with the Jews Brothers band, Te Papa’s World Music Festival.

See the Klezmer Rebs at:

The Bunker, Devonport, Auckland (21 July)
Auckland Jewish Festival, with the Jews Brothers, Mount Albert War
Memorial Hall, St Luke (22 July, 6.30pm)
Rakinos, with the Jews Brothers, High Street, Auckland (23 July, 3 – 5pm)

So come see us already!

Check out the Klezmer Rebs website where you can download free MP3 versions of Rebs tunes and order our new CD Klezmer Rebs Live @ the Wellington Folk Festival.

Klezmer Rebs band member profile

Rebs band members play for the love and joy of it. We are smart enough to know music is not about making money, and don’t intend on giving up our day jobs as teachers, computer experts, librarians, music teachers, public servants, and finance experts.

Reb Dave Moskovitz vocals, trumpet, recorder
As a baby, Dave was sung to sleep listening to Rozhinkes mit Mandlen, and was rocking in no time. After a misspent youth playing cornet and french horn, Dave has seen the light and has opted for the purity of voice and recorder.

As the band's Yiddishist and honorary Yekke, Dave provides many challenges where the unpronounceable meets the unsingable. In real life Dave is a Company Director and Professional Geek.

Reb David Weinstein plays guitar, mandolin, percussion and some vocals.
Reb David has played rock, pop and country rock guitar since his teens. From 1990 - 1994 he played in the band the Crucial Three in Melbourne with two other transplanted Wellington landsmen, where he got his first experience in studio recording.

David was inspired to play klezmer music when the Jews Brothers played at his and Rose's wedding in November 2000. Joining 'Sam's Orchestra' he soon defected to help form the rebel Klezmer Rebs in 2002. David loves klezmer for the spirit and passion of the music, and to keep alive the music of his Askenazi heritage. His goal as a Klezmer Reb is to play at a Jewish wedding and at Womad.

Reb Rose (Reizel) O’Hara is the keyboard player, singer, occasional soloist, frequent percussionist and financial manager of the band.
Apart from music, she is a potter of some renown, teaches music and pottery, and does relieving teaching at primary level. She is also married to David Weinstein, so there's no escape from the Rebs for Rose!

Reb Jonathan Dunn is the trombone player, plays a mean recorder and has a shot at vocals from time to time.
Jonathan is an economist, fluent in Russian, expat American and proud father of two. He travels the world for his work, collecting music and hats en route, visiting synagogues wherever he goes, and always finding the local musicians to jam with. From Tajikistan to Nigeria, nowhere is too "way out" for him to work and play.

Reb Urs Signer is our amazing new clarinet player extraordinaire.
From Switzerland, young (22) Urs somehow has inherited the soul of a klezmer. Hear him wail!

Reb Sue Esterman plays accordion and does backing vocals.
She loves klezmer music and is keen to play more of the styles - there are lots to choose from - and she has the klezmer library and music collection to prove it. She would also like to sing more with the band (hint, guys!).

Sue’s day job is amanuensis to 350 teenage boys (aka information centre manager at a boys' school)- and loves it. Sue lives with her doting husband, evil cat and docile and aromatic dog.

Reb Nikki Bristol, violin, is the newest Reb.
She played for ‘Sam’s Orchestra’ and we are pleased to have this young British ex-pat talent in the band. Nikki is in Italy for a break, and will miss the shows but local violinist Stephen Judd will ably fill in for her from the bench.

Rob Edgecombe is our exceptional bassman.
He plays promiscuously around town with a range of young jazz muzos and has been known to improvise live music to rugby games and play theme songs to TV and movies in weird ways. This is Rob’s last gig with the Rebs before he heads to the UK.


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