Wisconsin bands with ties to Judaism


We hoped to find a few. We found a whole pile of ‘em!

We put out the word for bands with ties to Judaism and we hoped to hear from at least two or three. It turns out there are quite a few Wisconsin bands with Jewish members, musical influences, values and melodies.

Below is our list, but please be aware that we’re quite sure we’re missing some bands. Some didn’t respond to our inquiries, either because they’re defunct or not checking email! And surely there are others we just missed in our search! If you’re with a band that should have been included, please send us an email at Chronicle@MilwaukeeJewish.org.

Looking for some summer fun? Why not track down one of these cool bands?

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A Band’n All Hope

What metro area are you based in?

Waukesha / Greater Milwaukee

What are the names of the members?

We are between pianists right now. We are still hoping for a regular person that we can rely on, but we have a good number of subs.

Here is the current member list: Diane Brown, flute; Leon Cohen, clarinet; Mark Helgert, tenor saxophone; Michael Kotkin, baritone saxophone; Mark Levy, trumpet; Marie Loeffler, violin; John Remmers, euphonium; Morrie Rudberg, trumpet; Linda Seigel, percussion; Jeff Shabman, percussion; Judy Shabman, clarinet; Larry Sheets, alto saxophone.

When was the band formed?

Originally formed in 2006. Re-formed in 2014.

What are its ties to Judaism?

Based at Congregation Emanu-El of Waukesha. Our group is a traditional and modern Klezmer, Yiddish theater, Israeli dance and t’filah band and all of our music has some kind of tie to Judaism.

What kind of music does it play?

Traditional and modern Klezmer, Yiddish theater, Israeli dance and t’filah band.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Not yet. Contact Mark Levy, 414-719-8195.

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer?

Nothing firm yet. We are likely to play for a CEEW Service this summer.

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A Western Edge

What metro area are you based in?

Based in the Milwaukee metro area but have performed as far north as the Sheboygan and Manitowoc areas, as far west as Madison, and south to Racine.  

What are the names of the members?

Currently the band has been in a stage of transition. We have a core group: upright bass, Doug Jeffery; guitar, Chuck Carroll and myself on vocals – James Stillman.  We are adding a female vocalist and lead guitar, to be named.

When was the band formed?

2015.

What are its ties to Judaism?

This band has had several different iterations. Currently I (Jim Stillman) am the only Jewish member but at one point we had three Jewish members, myself being one of them. I also sing with the Milwaukee Jewish Community Chorale.

What kind of music does it play?

We perform what is called “classic country western” music which differentiates it from the contemporary country music that you will hear on the radio.  We take songs from the 40’s-70’s and give them a bit of a makeover and create a more contemporary feel to those songs. All age groups seem to love that mix of old and new. The people in their 20s will often come up and ask, “What is that stuff you are doing?” I tell them it is country western and they always respond that they love it! It has a little of Indie, folk, rock, blues, and bluegrass.  A very eclectic sound. 

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Online you can find us at:  A Western Edge – Milwaukee (just Google us).   You can also find some samples of our music at:  reverbnation.com/awesternedge     

This site is an international site and people from all over the globe find us and will click “like” or “follow,” which is just great to see. This kind of unsolicited activity keeps us ranked in the top 10 in the Milwaukee metro area (country western category).  

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer?

Upcoming events after June 1 are limited due to our “downtime” as a band. It was not appropriate to try and book a gig when we were in transition, so we took time off and found a sound that the newest members could perform to the highest standards. Currently we will perform locally and have to build our reputation as a band and earn our patronage. People I have talked to are waiting to see how our newest sound will sell. If you can draw a crowd and keep them engaged you will get larger venues to perform at. Historically most of our performances are at festivals, private corporate events, and birthdays, weddings and similar venues. June 5 we will be at Ovation Sarah Chudnow, 10995 N. Market St., Mequon, at 2:30 p.m. This is open to the public. Additionally, we have some farmer’s market dates and some bars that we will be performing at. Watch for information on the Facebook site. 

Anything else we should know?

I see this band as part theatre, part educational, and of course largely entertainment driven. Watching an audience smile, sing along, dance and get into this music is its own reward. Last December we performed at Art Bar in Riverwest and the youngest members of the audience got out and danced to “You Are My Sunshine” and then asked for more.  When we finished playing that evening I asked them why they loved that song so much. They responded that their grandparents always sang that to them.

Music connects us to memories of those we loved, emotions, history, and the fact that we all have the same internal wiring.  Remember the line from “Field of Dreams” – “build it and they will come?” I have found that to be the truth. Country western music runs the gamut of emotions from joy to sorrow, from expectation to regret, and all that is in between.  Just listen and you will find a story being told that will connect you to those things that are the most basic and important human emotions, memories and expectations.  

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The Beautiful Collide

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee but visit surrounding Wisconsin and Illinois areas.

What are the names of the members?  

Elyse Weitzman and Adam Speck.

When was the band formed?

December 2017.

What are its ties to Judaism?

None specifically except that one of the members (Elyse) is Jewish and a member of the Jewish community in Milwaukee.

What kind of music does it play?

We combine the beautiful genres of jazz, blues, pop and rock to create our sound.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Facebook.com/theBeautifulCollide/

YouTube (visit JewishChronicle.org for links):

The Beautiful Collide – Your Song (Elton John cover)  

The Beautiful Collide – Hard Place (H.E.R. Cover)

The Beautiful Collide – Clarity (Original) 

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer?

  • June 15: The Winery Bar of The American Club, 419 Highland Drive, Kohler, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
  • July 5: Mo’s Irish Pub Wauwatosa, 10842 W. Bluemound Road, Wauwatosa, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
  • July 19: Mo’s Irish Pub Downtown, 142 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, 9:30 p.m.-12 a.m.
  • July 26: Bar 360 at Potowatomi, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
  • Aug. 10: Mo’s Irish Pub Wauwatosa, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.   
  • Aug. 17: Lodge Kohler,1950 S. Ridge Road, Green Bay, 8-11 p.m.
  • Aug. 31: The Winery  Bar of The  American Club, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

Anything else we should know?

We love what we do and would be happy to share with a new audience!

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The CEEBJ Band  

 (Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun Band)

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee.

What are the names of the members?  

Dan Dance on piano, Andrea Goetzinger on tuba, Gary Kavalar on alto sax and clarinet, Jean Lauterbach on French horn, Barb Levin on alto sax, Michael Levin on oboe, Morrie Rudberg on trumpet, Eitan Silver on electric bass, Laura Straus on flute, Michael Taibleson on trumpet, and Pam Treisman on English horn.

Cantor David Barash conducts the band, and Dan Dance has arranged some beautiful compositions of wonderful melodies. 

What are its ties to Judaism?

It is our congregational band, which performs at congregational events as well as retirement homes such as Laurel Oaks, Ovation Sarah Chudnow, Ovation Chai Point and Ovation Jewish Home.

What kind of music does it play?       

Klezmer, Jewish folk songs, Yiddish songs, modern Jewish songs (“Hava Nagila,” “Tsena, Tsena,” “Eleh Chamda Libi,” “Mi Chamocha,” “Shalom Rav,” “Adon Olam,” “Shalom Aleichem,” “Y’did Nefesh,” “Tumbalalaika”).                  

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Contact Cantor David Barash, Cantor@Ceebj.org or 414-331-9336.

Anything else we should know?

We are a group of highly talented, volunteer, congregational members who love to make music together!

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Ethintricity 

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee.

What are the names of the members?

Leon Cohen, Jessica Wirth, Linda Siegel, Cheri Damkoehler, Jovanka Ristic, Harry and Wendy Seaman and Mitch Haycock.  

When was the band formed?

1992.

What are its ties to Judaism?

Our repertoire includes Jewish music – klezmer, Israeli, Sephardic, and one Rabbi Michel Twerski tune. Two of our members, Leon Cohen and Linda Siegel, are longtime members of the local Jewish community. Siegel is a former member (percussion) of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. We play music of all sorts from around the world, but we have played for quite a few Jewish groups and events. Among them Koach, a bat mitzvah and a set of concerts sponsored by Ruach, as well as other Jewish events.

What kind of music does it play?

Folk music from around the world.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

We do not have a public website yet.   

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From Any Angle

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee but visit surrounding Wisconsin and Illinois areas.

What are the names of the members?

Elyse Weitzman, Ralph Fahrbach, Patrick Van Bibber, DearlyLoved Matthews and Brian Lee Borth.

When was the band formed?

March 3, 2018.

What are its ties to Judaism?

None specifically except that one of the members (Elyse) is Jewish and a member of the Jewish community in Milwaukee.

What kind of music does it play?

Classic and Contemporary Rock, Pop, Latin, Jazz, and Blues.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Facebook.com/FromAnyAngleMke/

YouTube (visit JewishChronicle.org for links):

From Any Angle – Valerie (Amy Winehouse cover)

From Any Angle – Attention (Charlie Puth cover)

From Any Angle – Movin Out (Billy Joel cover)

Anything else we should know?

We love what we do and would be happy to share with a new audience!

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Jerry and the Wiseman Institute  

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee.

What are the names of the members?

Jerry and the Wiseman Institute features Jerry Wicentowski on guitar and lead vocals. Because of this band’s specialized repertoire, performances have been featured in various parts of the country. Fortunately, Jerry has been able to obtain the services of excellent regional musicians, so as to reduce the cost of long-distance travel.

When was the band formed?

2019.

What are its ties to Judaism?

Jerry and the Wiseman Institute’s repertoire features Shabbat Zemirot presented in traditional bluegrass/country style. Jerry Wicentowski, bandleader, is former president of Congregation Anshe Sfard, and is now gabbai and a board member of the merged congregation Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah in Glendale.

Also, see “Anything else we should know?” below.

What kind of music does it play?

Bluegrass.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Jerry and the Wiseman Institute is at Wizgrass.com.

Anything else we should know?

Jerry and the Wiseman Institute has particular appeal to Jewish organizations. It promotes Jewish identity through our connection to Shabbat, our illustrious literary history and the music that we’ve adapted in our host countries through the centuries. Our most recent concert for a Jewish organization was in Berkeley, California for the Jewish Community Center on March 10, 2019.

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Kretchmir

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee.

What are the names of the members?

Adam Margolis, guitar/mandolin/banjo; TJ Hull, violin; Guy Fiorentini, bass; Michael Bates, drums.

When was the band formed?

2018.

What are its ties to Judaism? 

We play traditional Jewish music.

What kind of music does it play?

Traditional Chasidic, classical klezmer and original compositions.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

On Facebook. Visit JewishChronicle.org for the link.

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Lil Rev 

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee and Sheboygan.

What are the names of the members?

Marc Revenson.

What are its ties to Judaism?

I grew up Jewish in Milwaukee, was bar mitzvahed by Rabbi Reichman. I attended University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and was actively involved in Hillel House and Jewish Student Union. I was a song leader at the Steve & Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC in Eagle River for many years. I was also the music director at Milwaukee Jewish Day School from 2000-2005. I currently I am a member of both congregations Shir Hadash in Milwaukee and Beth El in Sheboygan. 

What kind of music do you play?

Jewish and Yiddish classics, Broadway, blues, rock, folk originals and more on six different stringed instruments. I am known internationally for my ukulele playing, books and classes.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Lilrev.com for bookings; 414-305-2328 (text is best). On Facebook as Marc Revenson and Lil Rev.

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer?

Please visit my website. I will be performing all over the United States and Wisconsin. Lilrev.com.

Anything else we should know?

I love to play for weddings, bar mitzvah luncheons, and other simchas. I play both solo and with a variety of other well-known local music greats. 

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The Moshe Skier Band

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee.

What are the names of the members? 

Mark (Moshe) Skier, vocals, bass, acoustic guitar; Mendel Appel, vocals, lead guitar.

When was the band formed?

1999.

What are its ties to Judaism?

We play “Jewish Rock.” All the lyrics are related to Judaism, either taken from liturgical sources in the original Hebrew, or original content.

What kind of music does it play? 

Rock, Blues, Funk.  Close your eyes and it could be Japanese Rock.  Just kidding.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

MosheSkier.com

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer? 

We played Summerfest 10 times, but the band is currently taking a bit of a hiatus. I’m playing with various community members, doing weddings with a local wedding band, and really enjoying playing along with my daughter on the violin!  

Anything else we should know? 

We still have quite a bit of video available on YouTube and at our official website. We’ve also released two albums which are available on most download sites, like iTunes (search Moshe Skier) and Google Play, as well as Amazon.com.  In addition to this, I have a solo album from 1995 called Moshe Skier: Rock of Sages and a compilation album from my original band called Kabbalah: Kollection, also available through those sources. If you really can’t get enough Moshe Skier, feel free to explore the early Shlock Rock collections, as I was a founding member of that band.

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The Nameless Travelers  

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee.

What are the names of the members?

Jeremy Zelman, guitar and vocals; Jordan Thoennes, bass guitar; Alex Keimel, drums; Brett Westfahl, trumpet.

When was the band formed?

2018.

What are its ties to Judaism?

We are a politically driven rock band fronted by Jeremy Zelman, a Jewish-American singer-songwriter from Milwaukee. Our lyrics address many social issues, but above all, we aim to lampoon those who are bigoted and hateful – especially those in positions of power. 

What kind of music does it play?

Trumpet infused folk-rock.

Do you have a website or other online presence?

The Nameless Travelers has a Facebook page

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer?

June 1 at Club Garibaldi, 2501 S. Superior St., Milwaukee, as part of Unscripted and Friends #10. June 7 at High Dive, 701 E. Center St., Milwaukee, split bill with Big Style Brass Band.

Anything else we should know?

Our original lineup included Alex Seinfeld (of Pineapple Migraine) on saxophone instead of Brett Westfahl on trumpet. Seinfeld (who was Zelman’s roommate at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee) is featured on The Nameless Travelers’ demo recordings.

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The Unrelated Brothers 

What metro area are you based in?

Milwaukee.

What are the names of the members?

At its core, this band is a duo featuring Jerry Wicentowski and Bruce King on guitar and mandolin respectively. Jerry sings lead and Bruce is on tenor harmonies. If a larger band is called for, Gabe Dettinger, Paul Kienitz and Bruce R. King are featured on five-string banjo, fiddle, and string bass.

When was the band formed?

2015.

What are its ties to Judaism?

The Unrelated Brothers has no ties to Judaism, other than that Jerry Wicentowski is part of the local Jewish community. See “Jerry and the Wiseman Institute” entry.   

What kind of music does it play?

Bluegrass (both bands).

Do you have a website or other online presence?

The Unrelated Brothers is on Facebook.

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer?

  • Aug. 22, 23, 2019, Bluegrass in the Pines Festival, Rosholt, Wisconsin.
  • Sept. 2, 2019, Labor Day, Laughing Waters Bluegrass Festival, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Yid Vicious

What metro area are you based in?

Madison.

What are the names of the members?

Daithi Wolfe, fiddle; Greg Smith, clarinet; Kia Karlen, horn and accordion; Matt Appleby, guitar; David Spies, tuba; Geoff Brady, percussion. We frequently perform with guest vocalists Anna Purnell and Maggie Weiser. 

When was the band formed?

1995.

What are its ties to Judaism?

Yid Vicious is a klezmer band, performing traditional Yiddish/Ashkenazi dance music. 

What kind of music does it play?

Yid Vicious performs traditional klezmer repertoire for events such as folk dance festivals, weddings, and children’s concerts. The group also plays original compositions and genre-blending contemporary arrangements for concert settings and club dates. 

Do you have a website or other online presence?

Yidvicious.com and on Facebook.

Can you give us the details for any performances coming up after June 1 this summer?

  • June 4, Congregation Shir Hadash UnGala, Blue’s Egg, 4195 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood,  6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 9, Oakwood Village, 6205 Mineral Point Road, Madison, 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 15, Willy Street Fair, Williamston Street, Madison, 12 p.m.