Hockey Schtick Night’s big stars – besides the Coyotes, that is

Consider the Arizona Coyotes and gefilte fish, could there be two more incongruous images? One is a wild animal that can inflict pain and the other a Jewish culinary tradition that satisfies Passover appetites.

Well, they’re teaming up, sort of, for Hockey Schtick night, the Coyotes’ annual outreach to the Jewish community. It’s taking place this Thursday, Dec. 11, at the newly renamed Gila River Arena in Glendale. The highlight, of course, is the game between the ‘Yotes and the Nashville Predators, which starts at 7 p.m. The game will be preceded indoors by the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Cantor Melissa Berman of Congregation Or Tzion.

But for Yehudie and the Gefilte Fish, the highlight of their musical career might well be their appearance outside the arena playing Jewish music for passers-by and avid Coyotes fans before the game.

“We’re thrilled,” says Michael Alexander, the band’s “de facto leader.” “We got connected up to Hockey Schtick Night through our member Jason Kaller  who does some business together with Dan Berman (who helped set up the special discount tickets for the Hockey Schtick game, see details below). We’re thrilled that Dan reached out to us and asked if we could participate.”

The band’s Thursday gig will run from about 5:30 p.m. to 6:50 or so, Alexander says, to give people time to get into the arena for the game.

So we had to ask first thing, we know there’s Yehuda brand gefilte fish, but isn’t the band name a reference to a once-hotter-than-a-comet rock band known as Hootie and the Blowfish?

“Yes,” says “de facto leader” Michael Alexander, chuckling. “There are people that don’t get that reference. We thought it was catchy, so I hope it is catchy and not confusing. We thought about spelling it Yehootie, but it didn’t quite make it, and the Yehudie business card is printed now.”

The group started when Alexander and two other congregants at Temple Kol Ami starting playing with the congregational rock band that plays monthly at Cafe Kol Ami events. The group’s current lineup started in 2013 and played its first gig at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center’s open house that August.

The current lineup and their affiliations are:  Alexander on keyboards and vocals, Jason Kaller on drums and David Manley on guitar and vocals, all from Kol Ami;  Josh Ornstein on bass and Keyle Kosowsky on vocals (the band’s first female member recently joined), both from Temple Solel; and David “DR” Rosenfeld on lead guitar, from Congregation Or Tzion. So this is like a major tour to schlep from the Northeast Valley to the wilds of Glendale.

“The material that we play is really from decidedly Jewish songwriters, contemporary Jewish songwriters and recording artists, Rick Recht, Josh Nelson, Todd Herzog, Rabbi Joe Black,” Alexander says. “I’ve had my non-Jewish friends say, ‘Jewish rock? I don’t get it.’ I say, ‘Well, do you know what Christian rock is?'” That helps them sort-of get it, Alexander says.

“Easily half of our songs are sung in Hebrew,” he adds. “It’s a rock band format, though. It’s not klezmer, it’s not chamber music, it’s decidedly rock – Jewish rock.”

Their Shabbat appearances at Temple Kol Ami are all about Shabbat liturgies and melodies, Alexander says. “We were doing that for about a year, and we were like, ‘Let’s take it to the next level and see what we can do with this thing.'”

They do it for the love of Jewish music and the camaraderie of playing with people of a common background, he adds. “A lot of our gigs are done as a service. We provide that as members of the community.” (In fact, after the Hockey Schtick gig, Yehudie and the Gefilte Fish’s next appearance is to head a Thursday, Dec. 18, jam session as part of the Hanukkah in the Hallway activities being held by the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center, Dec. 17-24.)

–Details: Discounted tickets from the game are $21 for the upper level ends, Row H and higher; $36 for the upper level center straights; and $44 for the lower level ends, Row T and higher. To access the discounts, visit arizonacoyotes.com/hockeyschtick and use the code: schtick – or contact Dan Berman at 602-680-5550, ext. 1 or dan@groupticketsamerica.com.

 

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