With pretzels and cold beers waiting on a fold-up table, guests were greeted upon arrival at DeLeon’s rooftop release party with a warm welcome and the and a copy of the band’s new CD. But behind the excitement and rush of energy were the frowns and blank stares that gave away that last night’s event wasn’t just a concert—it was the beginning of a sad goodbye.
JDub Records announced last week that the Jewish record label will “wind down,” eventually closing its doors for financial reasons. For one year short of a decade, JDub’s mission was to “discover, curate, and promote unique, proud Jewish voices and role models in the mainstream,” according to the July 13 press release that first revealed the bad news. JDub President and CEO Aaron Bisman was not available for comment.
But the organization’s impending demise hasn’t stopped JDub’s continued devotion to its musicians. Last night, the 14th Street Y, a JCC in the East Village in Manhattan, hosted a rooftop release party for DeLeon’s new JDub-released second album, “Casata.” For $15, attendees got a concert from DeLeon, a free CD and free beer.
DeLeon just finished a tour across the United States and the United Kingdom. The band is made up of five musicians: Daniel Saks (vocals, guitar, banjo), Amy Crawford (piano, vocals, melodica, glockenspiel), Andrew Oom (trumpet, synthesizer, vocals), Kevin Snider (bass, vocals) and Justin Riddle (drums). Their new album, “Casata,” merges layers English and Ladino lyrics over melodies that combines indie-rock and Sephardic influences. With the album’s smooth rhythm and haunting vocals, DeLeon’s performance had the audience entranced.
By the time the band started playing next to a rooftop playground, the party had reached its capacity of 100 people. While some attendees had come with friends, others had never heard of DeLeon, but had heard of the news of JDub’s coming closure.
From young couples to older adults, the crowd didn’t let the sadness of JDub’s closing get the best of them. As if they were paying their respects to the loss of a loved one, the passion of the label’s fan base was palpable.
Rafi Samuels-Schwartz, a fan of DeLeon, got the invite for the event over Facebook. He said that he sees this event not as a loss but as celebration of great music. H was unsure of where DeLeon would go after JDub, but was confident that they are talented enough to go forward.
Other people in the crowd, like Amy Bush, came with friends who were fans of the band. Even though she didn’t know the band’s history very well, she had heard about their success leading up to their second album.
Shortly into the first song, she was seen jamming out front and center, shaking her hips and nodding her head from one song to the next.
After hearing the news about JDub, she said she was also deeply saddened, but knows that times are hard for everyone.
Isaac Bernstein, a volunteer for the event and the communications associate for the Foundation for Jewish Culture, said that the news of JDub closing had started to stress him out. Bernstein, who used to be an intern for JDub, explained how the foundation he works for has been a partner with JDub. The stress of the record label shutting down only leaves him thinking about the unknown.
Since JDub’s birth, it has had 35 album releases, three gold records, 52 songs placed in major films, TV shows and advertisements and has had 150,000 event participants in 472 cities. The recording label has been mentioned by the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, MTV, CNN and NPR—to name a few. According to the press release, JDub earned half of its annual budget from album sales, concert tickets and consulting fees and the other half from 26 foundations and federation funders and 630 individual donors.
Alisha Kinman has previously covered for New Voices, among other things, Israeli martial arts classes on campus. This summer she is working New York City and in the fall, she will be a senior at the University of Florida. She has also been published in JVibe Magazine, The Shpiel, and the Independent Alligator.