A Compendium of Klezmer-Punk Strategies Against Despair

Singer/songwriter/accordionist/novelist Geoff Berner’s music combines klezmer (for the uninitiated, the folk music of Eastern European Jews), punk, political satire and Balkan dance rhythms. He writes sharp, literate songs that can make you want to weep, laugh, grind your teeth, or kick out a window. Often all at the same time.

“We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians” is his first original album in 4 years. He says that it’s “meant to be powerful cheering-up medicine that you don’t have to turn your brain off for.”

Berner has built a serious cult following throughout North America and Europe, by touring relentlessly through thousands of bars, cafes and festivals. With his weirdly compelling stage presence, he has a strange ability to create fun chaos. He describes his typical audience members as “Odd, bookish people who like to drink. There’s a surprising number of physicists.”

Berner counts himself as part of the “Klezmer Bund” movement of makers of Radical Jewish Culture, artists like Daniel Kahn of Berlin, Psoy Korelenko from Moscow, and the rabble-rousing Jewdas group in London. The Klezmer Bund rejects orthodox and ultra-Zionist conservative notions of Jewish identity, and seeks to connect in an entertaining way with the deep roots of left-wing Jewish thought, in a way that’s accessible for everybody.

“We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians” is a reference to the old German folk tale about elderly farm animals threatened with death, who run away from their masters in the hope of achieving freedom and becoming Town Musicians. It’s an absurd tale of irrational hope and optimism in the face of horror, and that’s where the story connects with the songs on the album. “I would describe the record as a compendium of strategies against despair,” says Berner.

Some of the strategies offered include: Love, as in the song “I Don’t Feel So Mad At God When I See You In Your Summer Dress”; Redemption, as described in “Swing A Chicken 3 Times Over Your Head”, and pure Schadenfreude, as depicted in “Dance And Celebrate (The Misfortunes of People We Hate)”.

You don’t already have a record like this in your collection. Look for it at independent record stores everywhere, online, or at a Geoff Berner live show in your town, coming soon.




Side A:

1. Swing a Chicken 3 Times Over Your Head (Berner) 4:26
2. Dance and Celebrate (Berner) 5:15
3. When DD Gets Her Donkey, Everything Will Be Alright (Berner) 4:56
4. Condos (trad./Berner) 4:35
5. Es Brent (Gebirtig/Gebirtig, Berner) 3:20


Total Time Side A: 22:32


Side B:
6. Ikh Krakh Tomid Arayn In Der Zelber Mashin (Bowie/Bowie, Fox-Rosen) 2:47
7. Thank You, No Thank You (Berner) 4:28
8. When Chanukah Comes To Town (Berner) 4:30
9. I Don't Feel So Mad At God When I See You In Your Summer Dress (Berner) 3:05
10. We Are On Our Way To Bremen (Berner) 6:40

Total Time Side B: 21:30


This album is dedicated to the memory of my beloved parents.
Nancy Berner, 1942-2013.
Sargent Berner, 1941-2014.




Wayne Adams: All drums and percussion, vocals.
Geoff Berner: Accordion and lead vocals.
Brigitte Dajczer and Diona Davies: "Les Mitraillettes" - violins and vocals.
Josh Dolgin: Piano and vocals.
Keith Rose: Bass and vocals.
Michael Winograd: Clarinet.
Guest vocals on "Condos" by Joe Keithley

Produced by Socalled
Recording engineered by John Raham at AfterLife Studios, Vancouver
Mastered by Ryan Morey

Cover art by Nikolai Kopeikin

Release date: October 16th, 2015

copyright © 2016 - Webdesign u. -programmierung: Kalle Staymann