Growing up in a very active Jewish family, I remember listening to a lot of different styles of Jewish music. The memories of playing records and dancing at my Mimi and Poppy’s house with relatives is still fresh in my mind. I also recall learning Shabbat songs when I was in nursery school. NHL did the same just a few years ago, and now JSL is celebrating Shabbat with music, candle lighting, challah eating, and role playing as the Abba (father). It makes me proud to know that my boys are keeping the traditions alive.
These days, it is even easier to celebrate our Jewish heritage thanks to new music that is out there. When I was asked by Waldmania! PR to check out a new CD by The Mama Band, I was very intrigued and agreed.
About Shabbat Shaboom and The Mama Doni Band:
The following is from the Press Release about the new CD:
The inimitable Mama Doni brings her special brand of “funky music with a Jewish twist” to a new “Challah-Day” album, with the March 22 release of Shabbat Shaboom (Mama Doni Productions, $15, run time 42 minutes, all ages).
Doni Zasloff Thomas, aka Mama Doni, is the lead singer/songwriter in The Mama Doni Band. Doni’s “wacky, Jewish indie-rock band for kids” won the Simcha Award for Inspiring Joy Through Music in competition with more than 100 bands from 15 different countries at the 2008 International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam. Quirky, zany, offbeat, and unpredictable, The Mama Doni Band expands the horizons of traditional Jewish music with a contagious and unexpected blend of reggae, rock, disco, Latin, klezmer and “Jewgrass” – all woven together with a hip Jewish sensibility.
The original songs and stories on Shabbat Shaboom transport listeners to a place where the album’s warmly sincere pop-rock title track happily melds with a Gloria Estefan-meets-Fiddler on the Roof conga line tune, "Challah-Day,” where the reggae-influenced “Mazel Tov” meets a disco ditty, “Sabbath Queen.” Shabbat Shaboom touches on such aspects as lighting candles, being with family (mishpocha), celebrating bat mitzvahs, and even the “workout” that Mama Doni mischievously terms "synagoguersizing."
Shabbat Shaboom marks the first Mama Doni CD to showcase the entire Mama Doni Band. Says Doni, “Shabbat Shaboom is really an evolution for us. It’s a little less shticky than my previous CDs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun! But this album has a slightly different vibe. It’s more sophisticated musically than my earlier work, a bit more soulful, you might say.”
The raison d’être of Mama Doni’s presentation goes deeper than surface “shtick.” What’s important to Doni is the idea of giving children their own current and positive musical voice. Doni lays out her mission: “I want to share with kids of all ages and backgrounds the humor and richness that effervesces throughout Yiddish language and Jewish culture. Through my music I hope that they can access the joy in this culture in a new way and have a rockin‘ good time in the process!”
Tracks on the CD include:
- The Introduction
- Shabbat Shaboom
- The Best Shabbat I Ever Had
- Mazel Tov
- Quiet On The Set!
- My Mishpocha
- The Sabbath Queen
- A Grape Juice Break Dance
- The Bat Mitzvah
- Shabbat Happens 52 Times a Year
- Fahklempt (Remix)
- Jewish Cowgirl (Remix)
- The Coolest Friend I Ever Had Was a Chicken
- The Finale
- Shabbat Shaboom Sleepytime
- Bonus Track – The Friday Night Blessings (Mama Doni’s New Melody)
- Bonus Track – Saturday Night Blessings (Havdalah, Melody of Debbie Friedman)
What We Thought:
The boys and I took the Shabbat Shaboom CD into the car to listen to as we traveled. We laughed and sang along with the fun and unique lyrics. Later on, we played the CD in the house so they could dance around to the high energy songs. The boys really loved the title song “Shabbat Shaboom” and asked to hear it over and over again. They also giggled about Mama Doni’s love for challah in “Challah-Day” and asked if we could listen to it during Shabbat when they eat their challah. Their ears also perked up when Doni mentions her Bubbie – that is what the boys calls TechyDad’s mother.
NHL has been in Hebrew School for several years, so he caught references to items within the songs. He recognized “Mazel Tov” and why they were saying it in the song. He also shocked us and knew what “My Mishpocha” was about. He laughed and said Doni’s mishpocha reminded him of some people in our family. Of course, the banjo playing that introduces everyone was hilarious and kept us laughing as we “met” more of her family members.
For me, the magic of the CD is how much learning it packs into each fun, and quirky song. Mama Doni tosses in so much about Shabbat, using terms, traditions, and family happenings to make it work really well. TechyDad and I kept laughing at “Synagoguersize” because we have always joked that it is a workout going to shul on Shabbat. When our rabbi asks us to please rise – this song will forever be stuck in my mind. I also could relate to “Bat Mitzvah” and all of the hectic preparations that went on when getting my brother ready for his Bar Mitzvah. I knew his Haftorah almost as well as he did at one point.
My favorite song on Shabbat Shaboom is “Shabbat Shaboom Sleepy Time” because of how beautiful the song was. The original was fun, but this version gave me chills and really highlights Mama Doni’s voice and talent. JSL and NHL also liked the bonus tracks of the blessings from Friday and Saturday night. The little guy quickly recognized it from school and asked to hear it again. This shows me that we are doing something right. The boys are proud and enjoying their heritage, and with the help of Mama Doni we can make it even more fun. Now, I am eyeing the Mama Doni Band Purim CD, along with others that are already released to add to our growing collection of Jewish music.
I just hope that one day we will be able to see The Mama Doni Band in concert. To see their schedule check out the tour dates on the left of their website.
Disclosure: This review was made possible by Waldmania!. They provided me with the Shabbat Shaboom CD to facilitate this review. The opinions of this review are mine and I received no other compensation.