Thursday, December 18, 2008

Living Jews: Dave Simon of Zeda's Beat Box

With the Zeda show only one day away, I am reposting Y?s October interview with Dave Simon, the creator and mind behind Zeda's Beat Box!

There are certain types of people that you expect to find in New York, or California, maybe Austin or Chicago. These are the people who are doing things that are often viewed as bizarre or naive.

Another way of seeing these people is as they are, people who are chasing and living out their dreams. David Simon is one such dream chaser, and happens to be right here in St. Louis

Leader of Zeda's Beat Box, a reggae/ska based rock band that pulls on traditional Jewish liturgy for its inspiration, and Founder of Dave's Simon's Rock School, Dave leads a musical life.

Dave started the Rock school as a way to be heavily involved in music in a way that could simultaneously keep him involved with creative and musical people, but also as a way to actually support himself.

Zeda's Beat Box grew out of a conversation with his Shul (temple) in which they asked him to prepare some upbeat music for Kabbalat Shabbat (literally, receiving the Shabbat, aka the service signifying the arrival of the Sabbath). He turned to all-star rockers from his school to fill out the band's ranks, and hasn't looked back since.

No stranger to playing in synagogues, or AEPi houses, the group recently played with Cincinnati based Ska-Reggae Super-heroes, The Pinstripes, at Off-Broadway, and last weekend, Zeta's Beat Box was the closing act at the St. Louis Art Festival in Clayton.

It is almost taken for granted by those who know about Heeb magazine, JDub Records, Jewlicious, Mattisyahu, etc that there is an entire culture of Cool Jews.

This positive and empowering idea is something that Dave wants to bring to the surface in St. Louis. Dave pointed out that even if a person doesn't really self-identify as being Jewish, often they feel comfortable around other Jews, and knowingly or unwittingly find themselves spending a lot of time with other Jews.

"The idea of Jewish Cool wasn't always there," says Dave, "growning up, we weren't as open about being Jewish, and we didn't have the same pop culture figures who make being Jewish part of their shtick."

To Dave the Beastie Boys were the first cool Jewish kids, even if there weren't any Jewish themes in their music. They were doing something unique, creative, and urban.

The power of music to connect people is really central to Dave's mission to empower Jews to pride in their heritage, and to educate people of other faiths and backgrounds about certain aspects of Jewish culture.


!JustDance said...

Hey, nice redesign!

How come I cant see past posts?

Zuz said...

Glad you like the new design!

As for past posts, I thought it was just my work computer acting up! We're looking into it, should be fixed soon.