Geoff Berner, aka Whiskey Rabbi, plays Joe’s Garage on Saturday, April 23 along with special guest Jason Webley.
Vancouver’s Berner released his Mint Records debut Victory Party last month. His openness to experimentation, spirited Eastern European klezmer influences, punk rock attitude and work with producer/mastermind Josh Dolgin (aka Socalled) resulted in an innovative, engaging and lively album full of surprises.
“I know this sounds extreme, but with Josh’s help, and Mint Records’ backing, I was finally able to realize my potential in the medium of recorded music,” Berner said.
After completing his highly-acclaimed Whiskey Rabbi trilogy of albums, it was time for Berner to move on. “I wanted to make an album that sounded bigger, more ‘klezmer-ey’, and more transgressive, all at the same time. And I knew I couldn’t do it alone. In fact, I knew that I couldn’t do it without Josh.”
New musicians were also added to the mix. Benjy Fox-Rosen and Michael Winograd came up from Brooklyn to play bass and clarinet, respectively, as an addition to familiar brilliant members of the Berner posse — Wayne Adams on percussion, Diona Davies and Brigitte Dajczer on violins.
“We’re all trying to put out a vision of Jewish culture that’s the opposite of the conservative, knee-jerk pro-Israel, judgmental bullshit that’s emerged in recent decades,” Berner said.
That vision is evident at Berner’s live shows, which tend to devolve into crazed, chaotic, drunken dancing and psychotic laughter. He has built a sizable cult following through extensive touring, and audiences of odd, bookish people who like to drink come out to pack bars in Berlin, Amsterdam, Oslo and Zurich, as well as in Canada.
Since his beginnings as a street performer, Seattle-based accordion troubadour Jason Webley has built a loyal following around the globe with his energetic, uninhibited live performances.
Known for his passionate delivery, his soul-wrenching lyrics and an infectious sense of fun, Webley’s relentless touring schedule has taken him to dozens of countries, most concerts ending with the entire crowd locked arm-in-arm, swaying and singing.
Webley has released six albums and numerous collaborations on his own record label. Check him out at www.jasonwebley.com.
Joe’s kitchen opens at 6 p.m. and the show starts just after 8 p.m. Advance tix ($12) are available at Bop City Records. More info is at www.joeson5th.ca.