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Blues about the Jews
by Krystal Bick
Apr 30, 2009 | 1083 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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For blues musician Saul Kaye, he wants to take the blues one step further — with the Torah — and Friday night at Great Basin Brewing Co., he’ll be showing audience members what the Jewish blues are all about.

Kaye, a California native who comes from a strong Jewish background, has been listening to blues music all his life. Growing up, Kaye had blues cats like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Son House filling his bedroom late at night with their troubles on the radio show “The Blues Train,” as he played along on his guitar.

“It’s hard to say what attracts any old kid to the blues,” Kaye told the Sparks Tribune. “I mean, life is pretty good at 10 (years old). I just loved it so much. I would stay up as long as I could listening to it.”

Soon after, a collection of tapes with the likes of Ray Charles’ “Drown in my Own Tears” and Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Someone to Love Me” left a lasting impression on the budding teenager, who at the age of 14 knew music was something he had to do.

After a brief stint at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Kaye plunged into the music industry, producing several blues and rock albums since 1998, including “Doctor’s Orders” (2004) and “A Taste of Paradise” (2007).

His latest effort, “Jewish Blues” (2008), marks his first attempt to blend his love of blues with historical Jewish stories, an idea that had been tugging at him for quite some time.

“It’s something that’s trying to come through you,” Kaye said, explaining that the song writing process didn’t take much time. “You just can’t ignore it.”

But why? The transition, as Kaye over the years had drifted away from his Jewish faith, came about when he visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, a moment that grounded him in his religious upbringing.

“I think we all grow up with our parents’ form of religion, but when we’re adults, we decide what to take on or not take on,” Kaye said. “I felt like when I was at the wall, I really connected with something ancient way beyond me.”

And it reflects in the album, with Old Testament-themed tracks like “Sea of Reeds” discussing the Jews who stayed in Egypt instead of following Moses, and “Shema Coleinu” written entirely in Hebrew, all set to Kaye’s bluesy guitar riffs in a traditional blues storytelling fashion.

“I’m not preaching about Judaism,” Kaye said. “It’s more exploring a cultural aspect of Judaism.”

Today, Kaye has signed with Cool Water Records and has been keeping busy, touring extensively on the West Coast with praise following him wherever he goes, as the blues, now more than ever, are relatable to most audiences.

“Especially for the times we’re in, with the recession, people have a strong connection with the blues,” Kaye said. “I want people to tap into that longer sense of time because we get caught up in my life, this month, this year so much that these stories that are thousands of years old make this time period right now seem less extreme or dramatic.”

And while he does have a volume two of “Jewish Blues” slated to be finished soon, Kaye said he isn’t sure of the direction his music will be taking.

“I still like to write pop and love songs,” Kaye said. “I’m just seeing where it takes me right now.”

The show begins at 8:30 p.m. at Great Basin Brewing Co. in Sparks. Admission is free.

To learn more about Kaye, visit his Web site at www.saulkaye.com.

To learn more about Jewish blues, visit Kaye’s other Web site at www.jewishblues.org.

For those interested, Kaye also said he is open to song suggestions regarding characters and stories from the Old Testament.

Suggestions can be sent directly to Kaye at saul@saulkaye.com.
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