& The Painted Bird
The band’s named after the fictional novel by Jerzy Kosinski about a Jewish boy’s wanderings in Eastern Europe as he experienced WW II through a child’s eyes. Described as the «Yiddish Pogues», polyglot Daniel Kahn, the group’s creative light and founder, was born in Detroit with formative stops in New Orleans and New York and now lives in Berlin (because it was the home of Bertold Brecht). Wanderlust, creatively and both in and out of body, is one theme that’s pumping through his veins like beet-red borscht.
Driven by their charismatic frontman who’s often sporting a bird mask, the bands fast and furious shows are legendary from Berlin to Boston, Leningrad to Louisiana. A folkie at heart, he blends Americana with Yiddish protest songs and their innate universal qualities. All wrapped in high octane dance music tunes which are a far cry from schmaltzy nostalgia. Daniel’s dead serious in his lyrics and world views, mocking and attacking the usual shmeggeges trying to run the show.
An anarchist at heart, musically and politically, he’s on tonight with his cigar box ukulele. Rest assured, on vocals and accordion, keys and guitars as well. Introducing and promoting the brand-new album «Butcher’s Share» the old fashioned way – in small venues, live. The birds supporting him are Berliner klezmer veteran Christian Dawid with his clarinets and saxophones creating a delirious brassy brew, Jake Shulman-Ment’s violin stabs the atmosphere like Grappelli, Michael Tuttle plucks the bass like it’s the ass of the guy who stole his girl and Hampus Melin bangs the drums like he’s parading in a New Orleans funeral march.
He’s the bird that ate the cage. Daniel Kahn and his The Painted Bird, live at El Lokal.
While many artists in klezmer (and folk in general) are concerned with preserving the past, Daniel Kahn is determined to bend it to his will – John Patton, Driftwood Magazine