And I in the Uttermost West
'....and I in the uttermost West.' Twelfth-century rabbi and poet Yehuda Halevy's memorable phrase seemed the perfect capstone to our second CD. We are from Sacramento, the state capital and largest metropolitan area in California's great Central Valley. Sacramento was a western terminus for Jews (amongst myriad others) headed for the gold fields of 1849, and has been a destination for Jewish people ever since. 'And I in the uttermost West' is our latest attempt to interpret Jewish folk music in the far western United States. Clawhammer banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, string bass - all instruments associated with the 'old-timey' American string band sound - lend themselves wonderfully to Jewish music in this western context, at least to our ears.. Even so, Eastern European influences still abound in our music. We continue our founding tradition as a klezmer band, which we established on our first CD, 'The Flower of Berezin' (1998). If anything, our klezmer roots have deepened in recent years with the addition of Swiss-born violinist Annette Brodovsky and with bassist Lou Ann Weiss' adoption of the cello as a second home. 'Berezin' also highlighted the Celtic and old-timey backroads that led banjo player (and mandolinist / guitarist) Andy Rubin ultimately to klezmer. But Israeli influences have grown indelibly into our music since that time and are evident in this new CD. And in perhaps the biggest development since our first release, Sephardic music now enriches our repertoire, in particular because we've added Brazilian-born guitarist Felipe Ferraz to the mix. Surely the Sephardic move was consistent with our lives here in California, where the Spanish language, reflected in this CD by our singing in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), is commonly heard. 'And I in the uttermost West' is a collection of klezmer, Sephardic and Israeli tunes, bolstered by three original Jewish compositions and two songs from the English language folk tradition that relate to our music in feeling or subject matter. They are all filtered through the heart of a traditional California string band, resulting in a CD that is, we hope, genuine and satisfying.