Breslov Bar Band | Happy Hour

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Happy Hour

by Breslov Bar Band

Traditional Chassidic/Klezmer melodies with a Rock, Funk, Reggae, Punk, and Middle-Eastern approach!
Genre: World: Klezmer
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Abbo's Courtyard
2:03 $0.99
2. Oy Gevalt, Mir Shluft
3:59 $0.99
3. Chadesh Sossoni
3:15 $0.99
4. Asur Lehityaesh
4:35 $0.99
5. Keyl Adon
3:54 $0.99
6. Tayere Brider
2:31 $0.99
7. Shimru Shabsosai (Old School)
3:23 $0.99
8. Shimru Shabsosai (Skipping School)
2:04 $0.99
9. Yechadshehu
4:42 $0.99
10. Nitzachti Va'anatzeach
4:35 $0.99
11. Lag Baomer Jam
4:04 $0.99
12. Yom Shabbason
3:58 $0.99
13. A Gute Vokh
3:45 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
About the album title…

Breslov Chassidim place strong emphasis on living joyfully, an approach rooted in the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the movement’s founder, who famously taught: “Every hour is Happy Hour!” (OK, he didn’t exactly use those words. He did teach, “It is a great mitzvah to be constantly joyful” -- mitzvah gedola lihyos besimcha tamid!) There are many inspiring Breslov teachings about the importance of joy and a positive approach to life.

About the tunes…

Track 1) Abbo’s Courtyard

This song has long been associated with the Lag BaOmer festivities in Meron, marking the yahrtzeit of the great Tannaitic sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who is buried there. The annual celebration traditionally begins in the Abbo family courtyard in Tzfat (Safed).

In the early 1800s, Rabbi Shmuel Abbo purchased the site of Rabbi Shimon’s grave and built the synagogue that stands there today. He also bought 1,800 acres of agricultural land and encouraged dozens of Kurdish Jewish families to settle there.

In response to frequent attacks on the Jewish community in Tzefat, against which the Ottoman government was unwilling to offer protection, Rabbi Shmuel managed to obtain the title of General Consul for the Galilee from the French and proceeded to register the Jews in the Tzfat and Teveria (Tiberias) communities as French subjects. As foreign subjects, they were accorded extra privileges, and the Abbo home became a haven for the persecuted. The Ottoman authorities never dared enter due to diplomatic immunity.

In appreciation of his efforts on behalf of the Tzfat community, which he also served as Chief Rabbi, the Jews of Tzfat presented Rabbi Shmuel with a Torah scroll. On the eve of Lag BaOmer in 1833, the Torah was escorted from the Abbo home to the Bar Yochai synagogue in Meron, with music and dancing, beginning a custom which has been continued for five generations thus far.

A few years later, a Torah scroll decorated in gold and silver was dedicated to replace the original Torah scroll, and this scroll is still paraded in the festive procession from the Abbo home to Rabbi Shimon’s tomb.

It has become traditional for the musicians play this tune at the start of the Lag BaOmer festivities in Tzfat. The song is also often played at Chassidic weddings.

Track 2) Oy Gevalt, Mir Shluft!

This tune is a Shalosh Seudos Nigun, sung at the third Shabbos meal, which is traditionally served at dusk, between Mincha and Ma’ariv, as Shabbos is ending. The lyrics are in both Yiddish and Hebrew, saying in Yiddish, “Oy Gevalt, mir shluft!” There is no good way to accurately translate “Oy Gevalt” into English without losing the full flavor of the words, but a loose translation would be “Oh no! We’re asleep!” The song continues in Hebrew, “Ura lama sishan – awaken, why do you slumber?” an out-of-context quote from Tehilim (Psalms 44:24). The melody was sung by Chassidim in Uman as far back as the beginning of the 19th century, and the lyrics were added in Israel in the 1930s. The lyrics are appropriate to sing as Shabbos comes to a close, reminding that there is much to accomplish in the coming week!

The Breslov Bar Band had the opportunity to perform this song at the Jewish Artists Benefit for Haiti in NYC in 2011. The benefit – which was organized by the late Adrienne Cooper Z”L, the well-known Yiddish diva – took place one year after the devastating earthquake that did so much damage to that country. The crisis had dropped out of the news, but Adrienne knew that there was still so much to be done, and arranged the event to help raise much-needed funds.

(Incidentally, this track contains what may just be my favorite musical moment on the record – the unison funk horn lines, played on baritone sax, clarinet, and vibrandoneon behind Watsky’s burning guitar solo.)

Track 3) Chadesh Sossoni

I first heard this song on a Diaspora Yeshiva Band recording many years ago. The song is a popular dance melody setting of one of the songs written for Melave Malka, the traditional post-Shabbos meal bidding farewell to the Shabbos Queen. The words speak of Eliyahu HaNavi (the prophet Elijah) and the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.

The Diaspora arrangement of the tune was bluegrass flavored. In our arrangement, the band blends Ska and Debka, two genres you don’t usually see juxtaposed, but which work quite nicely together. Zach Mayer is featured on an extended baritone sax solo.

Track 4) Asur Lehityaesh

I initially learned this melody from sheet music published in a book by Yigal Tav-El. I later heard recordings of the song by R’ David Raphael Ben Ami and Simply Tsfat.

The lyrics are a Hebrew translation and embellishment of Rabbi Nachman’s Yiddish statement “Gevalt! It is forbidden to give up hope.” (Likutei Moharan II, 78) These words were allegedly sung – I imagine to a different melody – by Breslov Chasidim in the ghettoes and concentration camps during World War II.

This arrangement features the recording debut of my bass melodion, an interesting-sounding instrument I bought on eBay a few years ago. You’ll also hear the sounds of a Rhodes electric piano through a Mutron envelope filter.

Track 5) Keyl Adon

The text of Keyl Adon, from the Shabbos morning prayers, describes the Master of all creation, tells of His works, and praises Him. The virtuoso clarinetist (and Breslov chasid) Chilik Frank recorded a wonderful arrangement of this tune with his group HaLev VehaMa’ayan (The Heart and the Wellspring).

If you haven’t yet heard Frank’s work with that band, you must check it out! I’ve been digging their recording of Nigunei Chabad

lately, but all of their albums are great!
Track 6) Tayere Brider

A song sung when friends part. When the Breslov Chassidim would take leave of one another at the close of the annual Rosh Hashana gathering at Rabbi Nachman’s grave in Uman, they would sing this song in Yiddish: “Dear brothers, beloved brothers, when will we see each other again? If God will give us health and life, we will see each other again!”

In this quick take on the song, the band changes key each time through the tune, modulating upward chromatically from B minor to G minor.

Track 7) Shimru Shabsosai (Old School Version)

This Breslov melody for the Shabbos song “Shimru Shabsosai” is perhaps better known as a melody many use for “Yom Shabbason,” a different Shabbos zemer (song). Breslov Chassidim say it is of Polish origin.

For a number of years, I’ve had the privilege of teaching Chassidic music at KlezKamp, a weeklong retreat for klezmer musicians and people interested in Yiddish culture. While playing a klezmer dance set at KlezKamp, I was surprised to hear the clarinetist, Sherry Mayrent, play the first section of “Shimru Shabsosai” as part of a four-part klezmer melody. It turns out that the first section of this tune is almost exactly the same as the first section of “Yiddish Khusidl” as recorded by the early 20th century klezmer violinist Max Leibowitz. That tune is often also called “Leibowitz’s Khusidl.” I decided to record “Yiddish Khusidl” in an older style as an intro to “Shimru Shabsosai.” Here, the Old World sounds of flute and tsimbl (hammered dulcimer), together with vocals and vibrandoneon, convey an old-school approach to both the Khusidl and the Breslov melody.

I’ve been a fan of flautist Adrianne Greenbaum ever since I heard her FleytMuzik album, which I highly recommend checking out. That album features Greenbaum on vintage flutes, accompanied by tsimbl (cimbalom or hammered dulcimer). I’ve had the good fortune to play with Adrianne at KlezKamp, and so I invited her and tsimblist Pete Rushefsky to record these tunes with me. This track serves as an introduction to the next track, a full Breslov Bar Band take on “Shimru Shabsosai.”

Track 8) Shimru Shabsosai (Skipping School Version)

Here’s the full BBB take on the same Breslov melody. It’s a very different approach. The flute and tsimbl join the band on this version too.

This track is dedicated to Rabbi Ephraim Luft, the self-proclaimed head of the “Committee for Jewish Music,” who has attempted to promulgate numerous rules regarding “authentic” Jewish music. This version violates many of the rules he has invented about what makes music ‘kosher.’ It still sounds pretty Jewish to me, though.

Track 9) Yechadshehu

This is a beautiful Breslov melody for Birkas HaChodesh (Blessing the New Month), sung on Shabbos Mevarchim, the Shabbos preceding Rosh Chodesh (the new month). One of the notable differences between the variant traditions of davening (prayer texts) is the longer text for Yechadshehu in Nusach Sfard, used by Chassidim, compared to the version recited in Nusach Ashkenaz. The longer, more elaborate text inspires beautiful melodies, I think.

This melody was brought to the Breslov Chassidim in Israel from Uman by R’ Yaakov Barzevsky Cohen.

Track 10) Nitzachti Va’anatzeach

This pretty tune, a relatively recent composition by Yisrael Dagan, compiles many of Rabbi Nachman’s statements about himself, taken from different places in Chayei Moharan, into one song. “Nitzachti va’anatzeach – I have been victorious and I will be victorious,” were Rabbi Nachman’s final words.

The rest of the lyrics are cites from the aforementioned Chayei Moharan, a book of conversations and anecdotes about Rabbi Nachman’s life, written by his chief disciple and scribe, Rabbi Noson (Nathan) Sternhartz.

Gamarti ve’egmor - I have learned/taught and I will learn/teach. (Chayei Moharan 218, 229, 322)

Ani nahar hamitaher mikol haketamim - I am a river that purifies from all impure stains. (ibid 332)

Ani ish peleh, venishmati hu peleh gadol - I am a wondrous man, and my soul is a great wonder. (ibid 256)

Chidush kamoni lo haya ba’olam - There was never a novelty like me in the world. (ibid 247)

Track 11) Lag BaOmer Jam

The band plays around with some freylakhs associated with Lag BaOmer. The first song is “Vaharikosi Lachem Bracha” and mentions Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The second tune is popularly known as the “Lag BaOmer Nigun.”

Yoshi breaks out the fuzz pedal for a heavy distorted bass solo on this track, and Zach Mayer ends the tune with a baritone saxophone cadenza.

Track 12) Yom Shabboson

A beautiful Shabbos melody! According to tradition, the dove that Noach sent forth from the ark, to see if the floodwaters had receded, found rest on Shabbos – and so do we. The text of this song was written by the famous poet and philosopher Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi (1075-1140).

Track 13) A Gute Vokh

An upbeat Melave Malka nigun wishing all a good and happy week! According to halacha (Jewish law), “chamar medinah,” a (preferably alcoholic) local drink may be used for the Havdala ritual in lieu of wine/grape juice. As such, a beer-drinking waltz for this post-Shabbos song seems quite appropriate.

When Watsky and I were mixing the album in Studio B at the Bunker, a bunch of musician friends were recording overdubs for Eva Salina’s album in Studio A. Rather than multi-tracking ourselves, we grabbed Frank London and friends to overdub the “drunk man’s chorus” on this tune.


In the Breslov Bar Band, I have the tremendous opportunity to create music with good friends who are also amazingly gifted musicians. I am consistently blown away by the skills, dedication and inspiration they bring to this project. I’d like to take this chance to thank the guys in the band for all that they’ve brought to this project.

The band…

Binyomin Ginzberg: vibrandoneon, bass melodion, keyboard, vocals

Allen Watsky: electric and acoustic guitars

Yoshie Fruchter: bass

Rich Huntley: drums

Zach Mayer: baritone saxaphone

Mike Cohen: clarinet and bass clarinet

Special guests on Shimru:

Adrianne Greenbaum: flute

Pete Rushefsky: tsimbl

Chorus on A Gute Vokh:

Frank London, Allen Watsky, Binyomin Ginzberg, Ron Caswell, and John Carlson

Musical friends…

We have been blessed with an incredible support system of musical friends who have stepped in to sub with the band when needed.

Drums: Aaron Alexander, George Hooks, Dave Licht

Bass: Ari Folman-Cohen, Marty Confurius, C.J. Glass, Brian Glassman

Guitar: Jeff Ausfahl, Avi Fox-Rosen

Clarinet: Matt Darriau, Michael Winograd

Musical Arrangements…

Binyomin Ginzberg with the Breslov Bar Band

Produced by…

Binyomin Ginzberg -

Studio credits…

Recorded at The Bunker Studio, Brooklyn, NY by Aaron Nevezie, Jacob Bergson, and John Davis.

Assistant engineer: Kahil Nayton

Mixed by Aaron Nevezie

Mastered by Philip Shaw Bova at Bova Lab Studio


Original album art & graphic design: Much appreciation to Tzipora for bringing my cover concept to life!

Thank you…

The One/Tzipora/Zvi/Esther/Chaim/Meir/my family/Rabbi Naftali Citron & the Carlebach Shul/Elie Massias & the Jewish Music Cafe/Joe Godin & Smokey Joe’s/Shlomo Lipetz & City Winery/Klezkamp/Living Traditions/Henry Sapoznik/Sherry Mayrent/Frank LondonJAck Zaintz/Chilik Frank/Avrum Leib Burstein/Jerusalem Klezmer Association/Yaakov Dov Miller/Neshoma Orchestra/Josh Levinson/Dave Weiser/Yaakov Zeines/Stefan Zeniuk/Mo Kiss/Yossi Zweig/Altea & Avi Steinherz whose breakfast room decor inspired the album title.



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