“Accordion charged with punkrock… the free-spirited attitude of the New York Tzadik circle, cabaret flair, and scraps of Tom Waits.”
- Rolling Stone [Germany]
Detroit-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter, polyglot poet, translator and activist Daniel Kahn concocts furious, tender, electrifying and revolutionary Alienation Klezmer. With the Painted Bird, he presents a variety of passionate songs inspired in part by the struggles of Jewish revolutionaries at the turn of the century, and in part by his own intense desire for a better world.
The Painted Bird has brought “Yiddish Punk Cabaret” to rock clubs, festivals and shtetls, from Berlin to Boston, Leningrad to Louisiana. The band has been referred to as “The Yiddish Pogues,” and Kahn was once described as “someone between Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits – but yiddish.” Fittingly, his Yiddish cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – coincidentally released a few days before the passing of the great musician – has gone viral, with over 365,000 views.
Kahn also leads The Brothers Nazaroff, which revives the lost repertoire of Nathan “Prince” Nazaroff, the master tumler of the 50s in whose mad howl can be heard the alleys of Odessa, the cacophony of Coney Island, and the mountain air of the Catskills. With access to the Smithsonian Folkways vault, The Brothers Nazaroff have restored a piece of a cultural heritage thought lost to the world.
The Butcher’s Share
Klezmer-punk anthems for the revolution or the apocalypse!
With The Butcher’s Share, Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird return to form as the vanguard of radical Yiddish borderland bandistas. In the five years since the dark minimalism of Bad Old Songs, the Berlin-based Detroit-born song poet Kahn has reformed the band with new and old comrades: Berlin Klezmer veteran Christian Dawid’s arsenal of clarinets, saxophones, and brass sound like a drunken sailor’s orchestra crashing a Jewish wedding.
Jake Shulman-Ment wields his violin like a razor-sharp knife, slicing through the tracks. And Kahn is in top form on vocals, accordion, keys and guitars, delivering some of his best work ever. Joined by guest singers Michael Alpert, Sarah Gordon, Sasha Lurje, Lorin Sklamberg, and Psoy Korolenko, The Painted Bird builds on the 12-year history of the band and still finds new territories of sound and language. Sometimes funny, nightmarish, sorrowful, this collection of originals, translations, and adaptations smuggles songs over the borders of languages, histories, cultures, and genres.
The album, featuring the work of the legendary visual artist Eric Drooker, may be the band’s most complex and powerful yet. It was produced by Berlin punk and avantgarde legend Thomas Stern (Einstürzende Neubauten, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Crime and the City Solution, Can, The Brothers Nazaroff…) The album is supported and presented by Berlin’s acclaimed Maxim Gorki Theater, where Kahn is music curator and house poet.
New anthems like “Freedom Is A Verb” and Josh Waletzky‘s “99″ speak to the political moment as much as they address eternal struggles of class and liberation. Ballads like “Children In The Woods” and “Sheyres Hora” explore the depths of trauma and Traum. And the dark rock landscape of “No One Survives” references the brave hopelessness of late David Bowie. In the title track “The Bucher’s Sher” Kahn manages to make an upbeat Klezmer epic out of economic concepts of commodity fetishism and bourgeois morality. This is true Groucho Marxism, with a killer beat.
Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird continue to masterfully navigate the dichotomy between revolution and alienation, the political and the private, the explosive and the corrosive. Listen to some of the new songs here.
“Everyone’s bouncing and drinking and Kahn sings of revolution, whisky and Zion, inner emigration and parasitism. He ends with the Yiddish folk song “Dem Milners Trern,” known from the Coen brothers film “A Serious Man.” Daniel Kahn, at once moralist and anarchist, is also a man who means it all seriously.”
- Maik Brüggemeyer, Rolling Stone [German] (live concert review)
“When it’s comes to wicked freaky Klezmer music, the Americans were always way ahead. Daniel Kahn, born in Detroit, living in Berlin, belongs to this caste of Yiddish music agitators. An absolute must for lovers of unusual, intelligent, challenging, exciting folk music and a blast at every instant.”
- Klaus Halama, Sound & Image
“Spotlighted on the stage and dressed in black, Kahn sang through a megaphone and switched between accordion, piano and ukelele as he chewed up stereotypes and spit them out in an almost in-your-face challenge to the audience.”