Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour is a traditional Jewish music project, started in 2007 by Samantha Goldberg. Dylan M. Blackthorn, & Kronk (Sick). The band has traveled the world in many formations, learning many different tunes and the history and context of the development of klezmer music and Yiddish folksongs. From Texas to Manhattan, Mexico, Poland, Cleveland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Greece, Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour has played at sold out venues, busked for a living on the street, and shared Jewish music with many people.
Jewish music is filled with the spirit of celebration, yearning, and meaning. Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour brings to all this our experience as Texans & Jews, exiles with rebellious spirit. The band features a mix of klezmorim (folk musicians) and muzikantn (master players), all acoustic instruments in a traditionalist ensemble resembling the klezmer orchestras of Jewish immigrant families from Eastern Europe in the early 1900’s.
In the beginning, the band had learned two sets of klezmer music and Yiddish folksongs from sheet music and old recordings. Their deep exploration of Klezmer began when one of their mentors, Mark Rubin, told us that if you learn music from a record, your understanding is only as deep as the grooves on the record. He suggested we visit a list of certain teachers, festivals, workshops, & places, to get a feel for the context that the music developed in.
The band’s adventures began with a trip to Poland with a holocaust survivor to play for the Polish family that hid him during the Shoah. We ended up also playing a sold-out show in Oświęcim, Poland, near the infamous Auschwitz death camp, getting Sig-heiled off the street by Neo-nazis in Warsaw, and also drinking with Anti-fa skins and playing for them in their local bar after hours in Krakow. The Poland leg of that journey ended with Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour playing for a large crowd circle dancing in the streets after the final concert in the square in the historical Jewish Kazimierz neighborhood of Krakow, Poland.
For most of their existence as a band, Mazel Tov Kocktail hour has studied in-depth with Sherry Mayrent, founder of the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture and former Associate Director of KlezKamp and Living Traditions, Inc. Sherry’s adept approach to teaching traditional Jewish music has impacted the band’s sound to a great degree, providing a deep well of understanding from which the traditional klezmer sound has sprung to life. The band has studied with Sherry Mayrent at Klezkamp NY, Klezkamp Madison, and with private and public lessons and workshops. For more information about Sherry Mayrent and her teachings, you may visit www.klezmeracademy.com
Professor of Yiddish, Itzik Gottesman has been an important mentor for the band, coaching the singers on Yiddish pronunciation and translations. Professor Gottesman publishes informative articles on Yiddish folksong on his website, Yiddish Song of the Week.
Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour has been featured at the San Antonio International Accordion Festival (on the poster even!), Pecan St. Festival in Austin Texas, Houston Pride Parade, Honk TX festival, many Jewish weddings all across the country, Bar/Bat Mitzvot, as part of services and festivals at congregation Agudas Achim in Austin Texas, schools, synagogues, churches, clubs, bars, cafes, streetcorners, birthday parties, dog’s birthday parties, interfaith events, really just about anywhere music has been played.