LAMA at the Skirball Center: Jews on Vinyl

What do Bagels and BongosIsraeli Disco Fever, and When You are in Love, The Whole World Is Jewish have in common? These are just a few of the vintage record albums featured in the exhibition Jews on Vinyl, on view at the Skirball Cultural Center from May 12 through September 5, 2010. Spanning the history of Jewish recorded music from the 1940s to the 1980s, the exhibition illuminates twentieth-century American Jewish life by unearthing the long-playing (LP) 33 rpm records most of us have long abandoned.

Visitors to Jews on Vinyl will lounge in a 1950s suburban living room environment, featuring furniture generously provided by Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA), while examining abundant examples of album cover art and tuning into tracks from such LPs as Batman and Rubin, Chubby Checker’s Hava Nagilah Twist, and the Barry Sisters’ fantasy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid speaking Yiddish.

Bagels and Bongos, Irving Fields Trio, Decca, 1959. Courtesy of Josh Kun and Roger Bennett.

Shalom, The Barry Sisters, Roulette, 1962. Courtesy of Josh Kun and Roger Bennett.

Batman and Rubin, Marty Allen and Steve Rossi Mercury, 1967. Courtesy of Josh Kun and Roger Bennett.

“This exhibition is a natural for us,” remarks Skirball Museum Director Robert Kirschner. “The story of twentieth-century American Jews touches on themes of immigrant assimilation and the open exchange of ideas between communities. In Jews on Vinyl, we see—and hear—the influence of Jewish tradition on pop culture and the many ways in which American culture has touched the Jewish people. It is sure to entertain and educate.”

There will also be two listening parties this summer, one coming up this Thursday June 3rd titled: Go Down, Moses.  At this outdoor listening and dance party highlighting the complex musical relationship between Jews and African Americans, the focus will be on African American artists singing Jewish songs, including Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin, and Lena Horne. The exhibition will be open for viewing until 9:30 p.m. (Thursday, June 3, 7:30 p.m.)

The second listening party is titled: Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos. Participants at this outdoor listening and dance party will hear and gain insight into Latin-Jewish songs, including Yiddish mambos, Fiddler on the Roof charangas, and salsa and jazz arrangements of “Hava Nagila.” The exhibition will be open for viewing until 9:30 p.m.( (Thursday, July 8, 7:30 p.m.)

We are so excited to be a part of this amazing exhibit. Here are some photos of Peter enjoying the music and the modern atmosphere.

For more information on this special exhibit please go to the Skirball Cultural Center website.


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