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What the Chelm! has been performing since 1993 in Whatcom and Skagit counties (in the NW corner of Washington state), in Everett, Tacoma, and Seattle (including Northwest Folklife Festivals and the annual West Coast “Klezfest”), and in Canada.  What the Chelm! has recorded two CD’s, “What the Chelm!” & “Oy, They’re Back!”

Klezmer music has its roots in the towns and cities of Eastern Europe. Klezmer bands played and sang at celebrations, drawing on the expressive tonalities of traditional tunes as well as the compelling dance rhythms of the countries where they lived. The result is world music that is kinetic, high energy, infectious, and eminently danceable. In Yiddish, “es losst sich tantzen,” it invites one to dance. 

In addition to Klezmer music (in the spirit of creative borrowing) What the Chelm! also performs music of Israel, favorites of the Yiddish theater of the 1920’s and of the general Yiddish repertoire, Ladino (Spanish/Hebrew) songs from the Jewish communities of Spanish, Balkan, and Middle Eastern countries, and an occasional show tune classic bearing a tinge of the Jewish music idiom. As Klezmer bands have always done, we adapt some of our music to modern musical currents, and so include occasional swing rhythms as well.

Tap your feet, savor the flavor, and if you feel the urge to move about or dance, don’t stifle it!

* CHELM:  When pronounced correctly, "Chelm" rattles the phlegm in the back of your throat.  Chelm is a mythical as well as a real Eastern European town which is the setting for many Jewish tales.  According to one legend, two angels were distributing souls around the world.  One had the wise souls; one had the foolish souls.  The angel carrying the foolish souls flew too low, crashed into a mountain, and all of these souls spilled out into Chelm, where the population continued to maintain its own variety of warped but benign logic.

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