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Adam on Arts & Culture - March

Don't be passed-over...

Adam Davis XX image
Daniel Kahn and his band The Painted Bird.

CLAP for Cultural Leaders

The search for chametz commences soon, as does the search for future leaders of Jewish arts and culture. Like Moses leading the Israelites across the sea and Miriam leading them in song afterwards, charismatic and committed individuals have long ensured the future of our culture. This spring, KFAR Jewish Arts Center’s Cultural Leaders in the Arts Project (CLAP) will offer individuals an opportunity to network, socialize, and develop better understanding of arts programs and their role in our community. These participatory, educational sessions will be held throughout the Chicago area. To learn more, visit, call (773) 362-4760 or email

Brothers Shmuli and Bentzi Marcus of California are the backbone of band 8th Day, performing original melodies with a mix of Hebrew, Yiddish, and English lyrics. Their catchy “Ya’alili” was an internet hit in 2011. The band’s self-released 4th studio CD, All You Got, has 12 new family-friendly songs. The light, bouncy fare with a tinge of Hasidic pop is a good vehicle for blending syrupy fun with meaning. 8th Day, 5pm on Sunday, March 3 at Evanston High School. Tickets start at $25.

Shlomo Katz has gained a reputation for folky, heartfelt songs rooted in Hebrew sacred texts and neo-Hasidisc Carlebach inspired spirituality. Now based in Israel, his Niggun Neshama is sung around the world by Jews of all stripes. It’s with that in mind that a collection of Orthodox congregations on Touhy Avenue are jointly presenting him in concert this month. Shlomo Katz, 9:30pm, Saturday March 16 at Mikor HaChaim, 2849 W. Chase, Chicago. Tickets are $10-15.  

At first glance, one might think the Downtown Seder is being given by Lord Grantham and the Dowager Countess. While I’d enjoy hearing Carson and Bates recite Had Gad Ya, thisevent is New York’s comedy and music celebrity-studded mock-Seder, transplanted to City Winery’s Chicago location after opening last fall. This Seder’s Haggadah is read and performed by a mix of locally and nationally known Jewish performers. Though geographically correct, this event’s “too cool for shul” vibe is misnamed given Chicago’s more corporate, civic and institutional notion of Downtown. Still, it is an interesting arts riff on the Seder motif and a great excuse to have four more glasses of Kosher wine, all made in house. Downtown Seder, 7pm Wednesday March 20th at City Winery, 1200 W. Racine, Chicago. Tickets start at $70.

Detroit native Daniel Kahn and his band The Painted Bird, return to Chicago on the heels of their late 2012 release, Bad Old Songs (Oriente Musik). Their politically charged Yiddish protest songs and agit-Klezmer have gained a following in recent years for their talent, grit and of neo-Brechtian sense style. The popular “March of the Jobless Corp,” off Kahn’s 2010 release Lost Causes, riffed on Yiddish poet and songwriter Mordechai Gebirtig’s “Arbetloze Marsh” written in 1930’s Karkow. It became a YouTube sensation during the economic downturn and was heard sung in Madison Wisconsin in protest of Scott Walker’s anti-Union legislation. It typifies the biting, bitter humor with which Kahn has fun at the expense of subject matter. His band, the Painted Bird, named for Jerzy Kosiński’s controversial novel, appropriately leaves no musical feather unplucked as it savages society’s many ills. It includes klexperts Michael Winograd, Jake Shulman-Ment, and Dan Blacksberg, performing brilliantly and fiercely fighting fascists and right-wing fat-heads with each note. Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird, 8pm, Thursday March 21st at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse, Chicago. Tickets start at $18.

 Next Theatre’s stage adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Everything is Illuminated, follows a young man’s travels through the Ukranian countryside as he seeks an elderly woman who may have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. He is joined by local driver and translator, Alex, whose English is only slightly worse than his driving skills, Alex’s grandfather, who is haunted by his own experiences in the war, and a loveable dog named Sammy Davis Jr.  Through March 31, 2013 at the Next Theatre at Noyes Cultural Center in Evanston.

For more tickets and information on these and other Jewish arts, music and culture events around Chicago, visit KFAR Jewish Arts Center’s online community cultural calendar: 

Adam Davis is the founder and executive director ofKFAR Jewish Arts Center, a leading presenter and advocate of contemporary Jewish arts, music, and culture programs in and around Chicago.For future arts suggestions and feedback, e-mail Adam at


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