Friday, March 04, 2011

Music For the Whole Mishpocha

Mama Doni Band Rocks the Sabbath

Whenever I think "jewish music," the two things that come to mind are klezmer and liturgical. Neither one does anything for me.

For the past few years, New Jersey's Mama Doni (a.k.a Doni Zasloff Thomas) has added a dance beat to jewish children's music. Her group, the Mama Doni Band, has played hundreds of shows across the country sharing semetic songs and hebrew-slated highlights.



March 22 marks the release of their newest "challah-day" album, Shabbat Shaboom, with 40-plus minutes of ethnic music with a positive flavor.

Like their previous CD, "Chanukah Fever," the new release presents a selection of songs based around a secular concept. In this case, "Shabbat Shaboom" comments on all things related to Friday night services - going to the temple ("Synagoguersize"), saying the prayers ("The Sabbath Queen"), and having a chicken dinner with your family ("Chicken A La Tango").

From a 2007 start as the music teacher for her children's preschool, Doni has expanded into a full-fledged frontperson for a traveling band of Jewish minstrels, performing at JCCs and temples from coast to coast. I stumbled across the band on a clip from E! Television's "The Soup," technically a credit to boast about - even if the band is overshadowed by the antics of the morning show hosts on the program where they were performing.



But you can't go wrong on any children's CD where the lead singer befriends a chicken meant for the family dinner. Doni also tackles candle-lighting, families ("My Mishpocha"), and ends the disc with traditional blessings. Children will come for the music and stay for the message. As the Jews would say, that's a mitzvah.
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