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The Nigun Orchestra

The only band I've ever been in that actually released a record.

The Nigun Orchestra, at the Kansas City Jewish Arts Festival, Fall 2005.
From left:  Gary Kaplan on drums (in the background), Paula Suroff, BelleAnne Curry, Andy Curry, Mel Prezant, Steve Max.  Not pictured is Danielle Cohen.

In 1998, I was the "music guy" for Temple B'nai Jehudah religious school, so I was there for the combination Consecration/Simchat Torah celebration.  I played guitar and led the kindergartners in a few songs, and the Nigun Orchestra played for the Simchat Torah hakafot.  Apparently, Mel Prezant, Nigun's leader, thought it would be nice to have someone with my talents in his band, because he called me up later and asked me if I would play guitar in the band.  At the time, he had a bass player (Joel DeRose).  I had not played guitar regularly in a band since 1971, but, I thought, it might be fun.  I had a nice '74 Les Paul DeLuxe, so why not use it?

With Sarah Rotman on piano, Mike Goldman on drums, Paula and BelleAnne on vocals, and Steve and Mel on wind instruments, it was an 8-piece band.  I remember we played an orthodox wedding reception, and it was loud!

We practiced once a week whether there were any gigs or not.  We were assured of at least five gigs a year, all freebies:  Chanukah and Mother's Day at Village Shalom, Purim at the Chabad House, Israeli Independence Day, and the Kansas City Ethnic Festival in August at Swope Park.  Otherwise, weddings, b'nai mitzvah parties, and the odd event were our paydays.

Boy, we had a whole lot of music!  It was the first band I'd played in which actually used sheet music, and my accordion file was bulging.  Much of the music had been transcribed manually by Mel.  It helped me in my reading skills.

early rehearsal Nigun
Andy in Mel's basement.  I must have still been playing guitar at the time, because I'm playing Mel's bass here.  You can see the headstock of my Stratocaster just to the left of the bass guitar.

Joel wasn't too good a bass player, and the band didn't really need a guitar player, especially one no better than me. After about a year, Joel quit and I became the bass player.  This helped our sound quite a bit.

Without a doubt, the best thing that happened to me from being in Nigun was that I met BelleAnne, who had been singing in the band for years.  About nine months after her first husband died, she asked me out for coffee, and I was only too glad to accept.  We were married in June of 2002.

We began recording music with the idea of making a record in early 2002.  I was living at 6016 Holmes at the time and had a large bedroom devoted to studio use.  When BelleAnne and I were married, we moved into our current home, which is big enough to have a much larger space in the basement devoted to music.  We continued to record.

Mel added Danielle Cohen, his daughter, on keyboards in 2003.  A little later, Mike Goldman, the drummer, left the band, to be replaced by Gary Kaplan.  Sarah Rotman, who is BelleAnne's mother, left the band in early 2005.

Our record was done in early 2004, and Our CD was released.

CD 1

CD 2

CD 3

I still have a whole bunch of these CDs, so if you'd like one, contact me!

Here are some cuts from the record:

Shehecheyanu - the Craig Taubman version, lead vocals by Andy

Los Bilbilicos - BelleAnne sings this Ladino number beautifully

Eishes Chayil - an instrumental version of a song from Yiddish theatre

Mayn Shvester Khaye - this is a heartbreaking song in Yiddish,
a poem by Binem Heller set to music by Chava Alberstein and the Klezmatics
I hired Scott Tichenor to play mandolin,
Sophie, my stepdaughter, joins me at the very end

Andy and Danielle
Andy and Danielle, Purim 2005 at the Chabad House.

BelleAnne and I left the band at the end of 2005 to form our new band, The L'chaim Players.


Copyright 2006 by Andy Curry