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24 November 2010

Eatala: A Life In Klezmer: New documentary premiere & concert

Eatala: A Life In Klezmer: New documentary premiere & concert
honors Elaine Watts and four generations of Philadelphia Jewish musicians

WHO: Elaine Hoffman Watts, Susan Lankin Watts & band

WHAT: Premiere of new documentary about a ground-breaking woman & concert of klezmer music from waltzes to freylechs, representing the legacy of four generations of Jewish musicians (Hoffman family) renowned in Philadelphia

WHEN: December 4, 2010 at 7:30 PM (Tickets: $10 - $30 through http://crossroadsconcerts.org/)

WHERE: Crossroads Music / 801 S. 48th Street (Produced by the Philadelphia Folklore Project)

“A 3rd-generation klezmer, the mother of a next generation of klezmorim, and a raucous, wonderful storyteller. The Philly sound in full force and dance-compelling splendor.” – Ari Davidow, Klezmer Shack

The documentary Eatala: A Life in Klezmer is a loving portrait of Elaine Hoffman Watts, a renowned klezmer percussionist. The film shows how Elaine (her Yiddish name is “Eatala”), a feisty and determined musician, has broken barriers—as a musician, a working mother, and in her persistent devotion to her family’s klezmer music. Drawing on performance footage, family movies, historic photographs, and interviews, Eatala traces a klezmer tradition sustained over four generations in a single family— with a good dose of humor and joy. Eatala features performances by Elaine Hoffman Watts, Susan Lankin Watts and an all-star klezmer band with Josh Dolgin, Jay Krush, Rachel Lemisch, Hankus Netsky, Henry Sapoznik, and Carmen Staaf. Directed by Barry Dornfeld and Debora Kodish. Produced by the Philadelphia Folklore Project.

A klezmer concert featuring Elaine and Susan Watts and other musicians follows the screening. A special reception with refreshments for Chanukah will conclude this evening celebrating the accomplishments of some extraordinary Philadelphia musicians.

Tickets ($10 - $30) are available through Crossroads Music (http://crossroadsconcerts.org/)

Eatala is produced by the Philadelphia Folklore Project, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, through Philadelphia Music Project, and Philadelphia Folklore Project members. The concert and performance is a collaboration with Crossroads Music (http://crossroadsconcerts.org/).


About Klezmer and the Watts family
Klezmer is Eastern European Jewish folk music. In other parts of the country, klezmer seemed to disappear and then was revived. But here in Philadelphia, the Hoffman family never stopped playing this music. “Eatala: A Life in Klezmer” shares the unique Ukrainian-Jewish klezmer sounds of Elaine Hoffman Watts and Susan Watts, third and fourth generation klezmorim.
Born in 1932, Elaine Hoffman Watts is a winner of the prestigious 2007 National Heritage Award from the National Endowment of the Arts. Watts is one of only eight artists from Pennsylvania, and one of only six Jewish artists from the entire country, to be so honored over the last 28 years. In 2007, she received a Leeway Transformation Award. In 2000, she received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. These honors are well deserved and overdue.

Elaine Watts was the first woman percussionist to be accepted at Curtis Institute, from which she graduated in 1954. She has performed and taught for more than forty years, working in symphonies, theaters, and schools. Despite her skills and family heritage, when she was young Ms. Watts was seldom given opportunities to perform by local klezmer bands, from the 1940s on. "They didn't want to employ a girl," she recalls, not even Jacob Hoffman's talented daughter. This evening centers on the artistry of a woman (and a mom) who couldn't be stopped or silenced.
For generations of Jewish families in Philadelphia, the Watts’ klezmer music was central to weddings and other communal and family celebrations. The music produced by Elaine Watts’ vast talent and indomitable spirit is a critically important, feisty, and enduring link to a particular Philadelphia-style Jewish klezmer sound. Working actively in Philadelphia since the early years of this century, the Hoffman family and other Philadelphia Jewish musicians shaped a Jewish American music reflecting the influences of their homelands as well as the musical culture of Philadelphia. Elaine's drumming anchors the sound of this Jewish style.

Trumpeter and vocalist Susan Watts represents the fourth generation of this important klezmer dynasty. In addition to playing with a variety of noted klezmer musicians from around the world, Watts has recorded and performed with Hankus Netsky, Mikveh, London’s Klezmer All-Star Brass Band, and others. Susan has taught at klezmer festivals and privately, and performs in a diverse range of trumpet styles. She and her mother will be joined by other noted klezmer performers on December 4th.

About PFP and Crossroads
The Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP) is a 23-year-old independent public folklife agency that works to sustain vital and diverse living cultural heritage in communities in our region. PFP documents, supports, and presents Philadelphia-area folk arts and culture - including the arts of people who have been here generations and those who have just arrived. For more information about the Philadelphia Folklore Project visit www.folkloreproject.org or call 215.726.1106.

Crossroads Music organizes public performances by accomplished musicians with roots in cultures from around the world. Crossroads is inspired by and seeks to maintain West Philadelphia’s historic role as a diverse and inclusive meeting place for different cultures, social and economic classes, and progressive social movements. For more information visit http://crossroadsconcerts.org or call 215.729.1028.
To listen to a sample of the Watts family, visit the PFP website: www.folkloreproject.org