MUSIC Row after row of sentimental — sometimes kitschy, sometimes renowned — vinyl albums are lining pristine white walls in a small storefront, waiting for the opening of a record store that will exist for just one month.
Quite possibly the world's first Jewish pop-up record shop, it's in San Francisco on the edge of Mission and Bernal, in rotating art-music space, Queens Nails.
Like flashes of nostalgic dreams, each cardboard cover at the shop is its own piece of art: there's the colorful impressionist style square enclosing Fred Katz's trippy 1958 klezmer-meets-folk record Folk Songs for Far Out Folk, the shelf above holds Johnny Mathis' breathtaking Kol Nidre, along with the campy Mickey Katz album, Mish Mosh — the cover of which depicts the artist as a (hopefully kosher) butcher posing with both meat-links and brass instruments.
There also are brand new copies of the recently released Songs for the Jewish American Jet Set, a compilation of wildly varying tracks (surf rock from the Sabras, deep soul Morrocan-born singer Jo Amar doing "Ani Ladodi") culled from the archives of now-defunct Tikva Records, a Jewish label that was around from 1950 through 1973.
The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation released Songs for the Jewish American Jet Set, and is hosting the pop-up store, also dubbed Tikva Records. The group, whose mission focuses on preserving the 20th century Jewish experience through recorded sound, also has put out a number of reissues and hosted live music events in the past — this store will encompass both.
"When we initially did the reissues, we went out and found a lot of the artists on these records and we realized we really wanted to tell the stories of the music," explains David Katznelson, the music biz veteran behind Birdman Records, president of the San Francisco Appreciation Society, and one of four Idelsohn Society co-founders.
So, in addition to selling vintage records and reissues, the store also will play host to a series of Jewish and Hebraic-themed live acts. Beginning Dec. 1 with the official opening party, artists will drop by for free, by donation performances: on Dec. 2, founding Los Lobos member Steve Berlin will original score a silent film, Los Angeles band Fool's Gold will celebrate the release of its second LP with an in-store performance Dec. 7, classic duo the Burton Sisters will perform live for only the second time in the past five decades on Dec. 8, members of Dengue Fever will play live Dec. 10. And plenty more follow.
The Chanukah candle lighting ceremonies will begin with a performance by Zach Rogue — the leader of Oakland's Rogue Wave who recently released Come Back To Us under the name Release the Sunbird. While some of the others acts were a natural fit in the Tikva lineup, Rogue was one that surprised me — his music has always seemed rather secular to me, so I asked him about it. Turns out, it will be his first time playing a Chanukah event. So will he play Rogue Waves songs, Release the Sunbird jams, or traditional Chanukah melodies? "I'm trying to figure that out now. I wouldn't say that Chanukah songs are necessarily the top my repertoire."
He explained his reasoning for participating in the event, "When I think back in terms of what got me into wanting to play the guitar, my parents raised me on psychedelic, '60s British invasion stuff, but in terms of the actual acoustic guitar, a lot of it was Jewish summer camp — Camp Swig in Saratoga," adding, "I was fascinated with the song leaders and the cadence of Jewish folk songs and Eastern European sound."