News and Views on Jews and Music

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News and Views on Jews and Music

Finding Jewish music online: Part 2

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Part 2: Streaming and Internet “Radio”

(Update to last post: Before we dive into the ocean of Jewish streaming music, I’d like to thank those commenters who pointed out some sites I missed on the last post, which was about places to buy or download Jewish music online. One is The Milken Archive, which collects American Jewish music in the classical mode from the 20th Century, and then publishes it in new performances by today’s A-list classical performers and cantors. Another is oySongs, which focuses on what it calls “contemporary Jewish music,” and what others might call alt-rock; it sells songs, albums, and even sheet music by acts like Rick Recht and Dan Nichols. And then there are Gal-Paz Music and Mostly Music, which seem to offer mostly yeshivish music. In the “misc.” category, I was recently informed about Great Jewish Music, which specializes in higher-profile acts like Yael Naim and David Grisman, and Jewish Used Books, which also has a large selection of out-of-print music aside from its books.)

As with download sites, there are dozens of sites through which to stream Jewish music, turning your computer or phone into a Jewish radio station. And, as with my previous post, I will try to break them down into categories so you don’t feel too overwhelmed by the available selections:

Chasidic/Yeshivish 
This is a surprisingly large area. The ones I thought had the best interfaces were Jewish Music Stream, which gives the listener the name of the artist and album, the track length, the ability to pause, and even the option to download the track.  And Olam Radio (“olam” being the Hebrew word for “world”) truly resembles a typical radio station’s website; it has a nice feature called “Nudge the DJ,” through which you can send a song request. J-Velt Radio (“velt” being the Yiddish word for “world”) is one site that links to seven such stations and also has a section for Jewish music videos.

RadioRadio24 is a megasite with a ton of international streaming radio stations; their American Jewish one is 107.9 FM, WMDI “New York Jewish Radio”… which, it admits, is based in Lakewood, NJ. Close enough. (More on their Israeli selections below.)

Israel 
RadioRadio24 does better with its offerings from Israel, since there are almost 40 to choose from. Israel Radio also lists about 40; I would guess there is at least some overlap. And then there is the 800-pound gorilla of the Israel radio scene, Israel Army Radio.

For “just the facts,” The Voice of Israel broadcasts Israeli news in English (and other languages, like Russian, French, and Amharic) in small segments.

Rock 
Jewish Rock Radio has much more variety than just “rock.” Of course, there are rock acts, like the site’s founder Rick Recht, Josh Nelson, and Israel’s Moshav Band. But there is also hip-hop, like Hadag Nachash, and Balkan Beat Box, which mixes Old-World melodies and modern technology.

Jewish World Radio (“world” being the English word for “world”) offers a generous mix of music, from some of the more cross-over friendly yeshivish music to the rap stylings of Matisyahu and Hip Hop Hoodios (who partially rap in Ladino).

Folk 
Hebrew Psalms is a unique site that presents only songs based on the Tehilim, the Psalms, in Hebrew and English. It is a labor of love by David Ison, who bills himself as a “musician, composer, linguist, and the founder and director of Shma-Israel.org and the Center for Advanced Hebraic Studies.” Oh, and all the songs are performed by Ison, who has a folksy, breathy voice.

Webtechies boasts “the biggest collections of radio stations from around the globe,” but under its “Jewish” category only lists one, from Poland. And The Yiddish Voice is an hour-long broadcast from Boston’s WUNR, on Wednesdays, starting at 7:30 p.m. (that’s Boston time, we are helpfully reminded).

Lists and Megasites 
Great places to start. These sites catalog hundreds of stations from around the world in all imaginable (and some unimaginable) genres. One such site focusing on Jewish music is Jewish Webcasting. It catalogs 32 varied Jewish streams, plus another 46 Israeli ones. It also breaks them down by category and then lists them alphabetically with brief descriptions. Another, which lists its 50-some recommendations from such Jewish outposts as Oregon and Brazil, is the Jewish Music Web Center, which also includes Jewish shows on general and college stations.

In the world of Jewish music, one of the final-word sites is KlezmerShack. Beyond the limitations implied by its name, the site is a huge archive of reviews of all manner of Jewish recordings, directories of Jewish acts, and of course, a list of Jewish online radio stations.

As far as sites that catalog all music, not just Jewish, a search for “Jewish” at Shoutcast finds more than 20 stations. And search for the same word on the megasite Tune In finds a whopping 200-plus sites.

Of the two (I would guess) most popular “find what else I’d like” websites, Pandora did not give me other Jewish artists when I searched for “Moshav Band,” while Rhapsody did. This is not to endorse one site over the other; a brief side-by-side comparison can be found here.

Lectures/Talk 
Jadio presents the remarks of dozens of the top speakers in the Jewish circuit, including authors, politicians, and scholars; they are listed alphabetically, and the talks are also broken down by topic. Jewish Talk Radio, meanwhile, has the URL jewishnewsandtalk.com, which expresses its focus on current events.

Apps 
JStream is an Android streaming-Jewish-music app with, it says, “multiple stations.” And some 20 stations are available through the iPhone Jewish radio app at a site called Rusty Brick.

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