About four years ago I got a phone call from a friend of mine who was running a small venue in a shul on the Upper West Side. He wanted to know if I would be interested in playing guitar with a certain artist from Israel when he comes to play at the venue. There would be no pay, but it would definitely be a great experience. I only knew a handful of this particular artist’s material but nonetheless I agreed to do the show. I spent the next week going over the music, writing out chord charts and playing along to the tracks I was sent in order to make sure I would be fully prepared for the show.
That Saturday night, in The ROC House, I met R’ Yosef f Karduner for the first time. Famous mainly for his incredible composition, “Shir Lamaalot,” Yosef loves in Israel and comes in once a year to do a number of shows throughout the tri-state area. He greeted me and thanked me profusely for playing with him that evening, even though he had never heard me play and could’ve been a terrible musician for all he knew. Right away I was able to tell that this gig would be different and would change my life.
I love music. There are so many different styles of music that I listen to and get inspired by, but I never experienced TRUE music like Yosef’s. His songs are deep and come straight from the heart. He always says that his songs are “given to him.” He takes no credit for the composition but directly attributes them to Hashem, who sends him the melodies and the choice of words to use. That night I felt music for the first time. I was engulfed in true and heartfelt melodies that took me to another place spiritually. So much so, I insisted in playing the next night with him in Brooklyn. Same songs, same inspirational lift.
So now every year when R’ Yosef comes to America, I take the time out of my hectic schedule of weddings, rehearsals, and recording sessions to be inspired. My wife, after seeing Yosef in concert for the first time last year, insists I play every show I can with him. It’s my yearly inspiration that carries me through the cold winter months when darkness comes in early, through the summer and the Yomim Noraim, back to when he returns November time. Playing with him also pushes me to write and compose TRUE music. My style is so different from his, yet as long as the music comes from a true place, it becomes something real. I highly recommend people to listen to R’ Yosef’s music, but more than that, to see him when you can. You will not be the same after hearing his story and his songs. They lift you up and inspire you.
Looking forward to next year…