Many is the artist who gains a deep understanding of any given issue or culture and is ultimately inspired to share and/or celebrate said knowledge in song.
But an artist who dives headlong into a people's faith without the faintest inkling of its origins or purpose? As far as your friendly neighborhood Crawler can tell, that rarefied distinction rests squarely on the shoulders of one Sean Altman.
"The fact that I still know very little about my people hasn't deterred me from penning catchy songs that display my pathetic lack of knowledge," he notes of his newest project, Jewmongous—a musical comedy act that celebrates its debut studio effort, Taller Than Jesus, at the Iron Horse Dec. 19. "In fact, I've found that not knowing squat about Judaism allows for better lyrics, as I'm not hamstrung by the pesky truth."
Whether or not verses like "I have two pubic hairs and a three-piece suit" (from the dysfunctional bar mitzvah anthem "Today I Am A Man") or "I'll leave the toilet seat down when I take a pee and even whack off more regularly" (in the bluesy shuffler "My Pact With Satan") corroborate that this claim is certainly up for debate.
Altman's songwriting adeptness, wit and timing, on the other hand, are not. In fact, they're so polished and solid that the producers of one of television's longest-running children's game shows—Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?—hired him to front the house band, Rockapella, from 1991 to 1995.
You thought he looked familiar, didn't you?
Tix for Jewmongous are $15 in advance, $18 at the door and available at iheg.com.
Also adorning the holiday music shelves this season is a 12-tune instrumental offering from Whately's Joe "Joe Pod" Podlesny. The disc is called is called Holiday Peace, and while most these days would know Pod as the resident owner/knob jockey for Avocet Studios, he's also literally rubbed elbows with a who's-who of the industry as a performer years ago.
"The band was called Spirit in Flesh, and back in the early '70s, we got the big recording contract and recorded at all the big places," he recalls. "We had Eddie Kramer [Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Stones] mixing for us at Jimi Hendrix' Electric Ladyland, then at the Record Plant, we'd come in from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and cross paths with these guys who had it from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.—a little band called The Who, recording what was to become Who's Next?"
Pod notes that recording for his latest labor of love commenced with an effort to capture the seasonal sugarplums that had been dancing in his head and subsequently create a nifty stocking stuffer for friends and family.
"After some folks heard it, however, they started to say, 'Hey, you should make a commercial CD of this stuff,'" he continues. "So I started to take it more seriously and ended up with a collection of lighthearted, easy-listening tunes that I am very proud of."
Although Pod has no current plans to take his holiday hits on the road, the disc itself is available for mass consumption. For more info on the artist or to purchase his audio, kindly point your browser to joepodmusic.com.
Similarly celebrating seasonal recorded product is Valley veteran/vocal virtuoso Tim Eriksen. The disc is titled Star in the East and features a mixed bag of Christmas standards ("Angels We Have Heard On High," "The First Noel"), shape note staples ("While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks") and early American influences—punctuated by the Ericksen original "Awake My Soul."
The man the BBC has touted as the "best ballad singer of his generation" will mark the arrival of his CD this Friday, Dec. 16 at the Iron Horse (iheg.com). Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, which, by the way, opens promptly at 7 p.m.
Send correspondence to Nightcrawler, PO Box 427, Somers, CT 06071; fax to (860) 394-4262 or email Garycarra@aol.com.