The Wedding Dance of Geoff Berner

Geoff BernerCanada’s answer to Jason Webley, Geoff Berner is another mad genius songwriter on the solo accordion circuit. Biting and hilarious, dark and depressing — often all at the same time — Berner’s been delving deeper into klezmer with each successive album. He’s also the author of the international bestseller, How to Be an Accordion Player.

With his latest album, The Wedding Dance of the Widow Bride, Berner continues his mission to “drag klezmer music into the bars kicking and screaming.” His raunchy, edgy take on klezmer may be blasphemous to some, but Berner insists that he’s simply getting in touch with the music’s emotional roots:

“In many ways [klezmer] was the punk rock of its time and place. These were the knockaround, hard-drinking, traveling people that you didn’t want your daughters to meet. These were not the classically trained musicians, and they were not always technical masters. They had something else to offer — they had guts in their playing.”

The album brings together the past and present, combining punk attitude with traditional Jewish wedding music. Aside from one Leonard Cohen cover, the songs are all original and inspired by traditional wedding song forms; for instance, “Weep Bride Weep” updates the traditional “Song to Make the Bride Weep” and “Song to Reconcile” is a dance to bring the in-laws together. It’s definitely an album worth slipping to the DJ at the next wedding you attend.

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