ben sidran: there was a fire

KCMetropolis.orgIt’s another big issue of this week, and I have a new review:

On Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of heading to Overland Park to hear fellow Madisonian Ben Sidran speak at the Jewish Community Center’s White Theatre about his latest book, There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream. A decade in the making, There Was a Fire is currently the only book exclusively covering the history of Jews in American popular music, and especially their influence on it in the first half of the twentieth century. His research goes beyond just historical facts, though, deep into existential questions of “What is Jewish about American music? Who is a Jew in America?,” the uniquely American experience of secular Jews related to the rest of the world, and what the future may hold for Jews and Judaism in America. I learned so much! And of course, I have heard Sidran play gigs back home in Madison before—he’s a gifted jazz pianist and improvisor.

Read my full review at American music’s Jewish roots

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