THE KLEZMORIM > Disko > Arhoolie Box > Liner Notes 

[Arhoolie Records honcho Chris Strachwitz recounts his introduction to The Klezmorim in 1976:]

"Jeff Alexson, our late good friend and the partner of Tom Diamant (now Arhoolie's General Manager), has to get credit for getting my ears turned in that direction. He came popping into Arhoolie one day, yelling, 'Chris, you've got to hear these guys! It's unbelievable! There's this bunch of young guys playing this old, old European music.' So I went down to the Freight & Salvage Coffee House, and sure enough, I was knocked out by them. They had this very soulful clarinetist [David Julian Gray] and a fine woman fiddler [Laurie Chastain].

"And it was a sound I had never expected to hear. The only Yiddish music I had been exposed to was when I was going to school in L.A.; there was a station that would broadcast Yiddish programming on Sunday afternoon, and they played real corny shit, it was just awful, though I was fascinated by the language.

"Anyway, here was something I had never heard before, and it sounded like really Old World music, haunting stuff, and they were really good at it. I was also grabbed by the fact that here were young Jewish Americans* playing their own old music, because until then I had heard them do nothing but blues imitations or country imitations — always something else. So I thought it was neat to finally find some kids who were into their own tradition."

* A common misconception. Of the five founding members of The Klezmorim, two were Jews, two identified as half-Jews, and one was Christian.