What they say about Wholesale

"The Wholesale Klezmer Band added a dimension to our weekly summer music program that not only engaged and pleased the audience, but also raised listeners' awareness of a musical tradition that many people rarely get to hear and enjoy in depth." Roy Nilson, Petersham, MA Friday Market coordinator


Calendar of public performances

Since 1982 The Wholesale Klezmer Band has performed traditional music for Jewish weddings and other simkhes, celebrations, on the concert stage, and at school and college educational programs. These include performances and workshops at the Conference on Judaism in Rural New England, the Conference for the Advancement of Jewish Education, the New England Festival of Folk Arts (NEFFA), a Celebration of Folk Music for the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall hosted by Pete Seeger, and at the inauguration of President Clinton. The band's repertoire includes klezmer dance music, Yiddish folk songs, Yiddish theater and vaudeville songs, and original compositions.

The Wholesale Klezmer Band members are Yosl (Joe) Kurland, (vocals), Aaron Bousel (accordion), Brian Bender (trombone), Peggy Davis (flute & vocals), and Joanna Morse (fiddle).

We also honor Sherry Mayrent who was our long-time clarinetist and music director, and remember David Tasgal z"l who played clarinet and fiddle with us for many years.

The Wholesale Klezmer Band performs songs in Yiddish and loshn koydesh, Ashkenazic Hebrew, and specializes in making it accessible to the English-speaking world with translations, stories, explanations, visual aids, and that universal language that speaks to your feet and makes them want to dance. They compose original dance tunes and Yiddish songs that speak to contemporary concerns.

The Wholesale Klezmer Band performs music for both Jewish and general audiences that expresses Jewish values of justice and peace. By introducing Jewish music and culture to young audiences of diverse ethnic groups, religions and races they work to foster intercultural understanding.

For information and bookings, call Joe Kurland at 413-624-3204 or e-mail at wkb@ganeydn.com


Educational Programs

See also: Workshops
See also: School Programs
See also: Yosl Teaches Yiddish

The Wholesale Klezmer Band and its members offer educational programs, concerts and dances for elementary schools, junior high and high schools, colleges and adult education. Program topics include:

  • Introducing Jewish Music and Culture

  • How to Dance at a Jewish Wedding

  • Yiddish Song and Music in Jewish life

  • What Makes Jewish Music Jewish?

  • Why would anyone write Yiddish songs today?

  • Lakhn mit trern--"Laughing with Tears" as a theme in Jewish music, prayer, and life

"This performance fascinated our population that is usually very hard to please. Our students enjoyed the unfamiliar sounds and the exposure to a culture so different from their own. It was a pleasure to see the spark that was going over from Joe to the audience."
Gunter Nagels, teacher, Holyoke, Massachusetts

Please have a look at letters of reference from Mary Ann Clarkson, Principal of Erving, Massachusetts elementary school, and Alice Grunfeld, Executive Director of Kamp Kinderland in Tolland, Massachusetts.

For information and bookings, call Joe Kurland at 413-624-3204 or e-mail at wkb@ganeydn.com

What they say about Wholesale:

I wanted to thank you from the bottom of both my and Rosie's hearts for being there for us, our families and our friends on our wedding day. I felt so moved, so emotional and so grateful for your music.

Not only my father, but so many of our friends, teachers, colleagues said your music was the life and soul of the wedding. I found it so transporting to hear the Yiddish. I know my Ashkenazi grandmother z"l, who was a Holocaust survivor, would have adored it. And I hope you saw how delighted Rosie's grandfather who is 95 and grew up speaking Yiddish was to hear these songs. It felt like a conquest over death in so many ways.

I was so moved to hear the Bavli tunes. My mother told that thanks to your music she felt that my grandfather's z"l neshama was there with us in your work and tunes. I was so happy and and so delighted that the ruach of my father's family could be brought there by you. It was so beautiful. I really appreciate the work you put in and cannot tell you how wonderfully it came off. Many people from my family said how touched and delighted they were for these tunes, so ancient, so beloved, to be there.

My personal favourite was to hear the Bendigamos being sung. Really, thanks to you, I felt the wedding was able to offer a beautiful window on the richness of Jewish civilisation to our non-Jewish friends and colleagues. Many friends they told me they wished they were Jewish to have such music at their own weddings!

So thank you, once again.

Hoping to hear your music again at many more simchas in our family in the future,


Ben and Rosie

A New England treasure.
Jewish Federation Reporter of New Hampshire

Music to bridge the gulf of war.
Amherst Bulletin

An unforgettable evening of comedy and drama and joy and sorrow.
Dee Sarno, Saratoga County Arts Council

Wonderfully entertaining and moving.
Jewish Weekly News of Western Massachusetts

The universality of what you do makes this somewhat esoteric art accessible to people from totally divergent backgrounds.
Joan Epro, Dean's office, Franklin Pierce College

Their upbeat, danceable, festive-like music made it hard for me to sit still.
The North Adams State College Beacon

An evening that was a gift of love and spiritual blessing. You helped to transform strangers into a dancing family.
Magdalena Gomez, Hadley, Ma

Other references from wedding and bar/bas mitzve customers as well as presenters available on our wedding page, our reference page, and by request.

For information and bookings, call Joe Kurland at 413-624-3204 or e-mail at wkb@ganeydn.com


Yosl (Joe) Kurland (vocals, dance leading, workshop leader) took up the violin in the second grade in the Bronx, and played only classical music for years. Later, he learned guitar and sang songs of Pete Seeger and The Weavers "and I dreamed of performing songs about peace and justice as they did." In college in Cambridge and Chicago, he performed music for Balkan, Hungarian, and other international folk dancing. As a high school history teacher, he performed American labor songs for his students.
But it wasn't until he turned 40 that Yosl learned to speak Yiddish. "To me, Yiddish offers a way of expressing things with a unique tying together of the earthy and the heavenly," he says. " A single Yiddish word in a story or song can paint a whole picture within a picture because of its layers of meaning."
Yosl writes his own songs in Yiddish, Hebrew and English, such as an intimate prayer needling God about human injustice, or a story bringing Torah personages into modern times to work out their conflicts. He also sings for High Holiday and Shabbos services in the style of the Eastern European ba'aley-tefile, prayer leaders, has taught Yiddish language at the National Yiddish Book Center and taught children at KlezKamp. Two of his songs were selected in the 2008 aand 2010 competitions for New Jewish Liturgical Music held by the Shalshelet Foundation.

Trombonist Brian Bender, who hails from California, is a graduate of the New England Conservatory's Third Stream Studies Department, with an emphasis on Jewish music.
He says, "Klezmer has become the most meaningful way that I can experience being Jewish as a professional musician. It is a great honor to be involved in the revitalization of a culture." The trombone's role in klezmer is a fascinating one, says Brian, because it shifts from a pure bass line to rhythm to a tenor counter-line to pure melody.
Brian is also active in playing jazz, Dixieland, reggae, rhythm and blues, Latin , Celtic, Brazilian and other music, and teaches trombone, trumpet and piano, as well as klezmer and jazz ensembles.

Peggy Davis (flute, vocals) grew up in Minneapolis, where she studied flute and guitar. She listened to the recorded Yiddish songs of Theodore Bikel, Ruth Rubin and Martha Schlamme. She encountered native singers when working with Russian Jewish immigrants in Italy, many of whom spoke with her in Yiddish, which she had studied at the YIVO Institute. In Minnesota, she helped found the group "Yiddishe Folksmenshn." Peggy also sang Balkan and Russian folk music in the Ethnic Dance Theatre Choir. She taught calligraphy classes and childen's activities at KlezKamp, and has taught in public and Hebrew schools. Peggy is a calligrapher in Hebrew, Yiddish and English.
Of klezmer, she says, "I think of the music as having been written in Yiddish, even if there are no words attached to it.''

Aaron Bousel began playing the accordion at age ten, though it wasn't until 1995 that he began to play klezmer. He has participated in workshops at Klez Kanada in Quebec and Yidstock at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. Soon after moving to Amherst, MA in 1997 he became accordionist for the band Hu Tsa Tsa with which he has played at many b'nai mitzvah, weddings, and local synagogue functions. He is also accordionist for the Yiddishkeit Klezmer ensemble, has accompanied Mak'hela, the Jewish chorus of Western Mass., and performed as part of the Tunes at Noon series at the Amherst Survival Center. Aaron is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany. He is a Piano Technician, a graduate of the Piano Technology program at the North Bennett Street School in Boston and a Registered Piano Technician of The Piano Technicians Guild.

Joanna Morse began playing with the Wholesale Klezmer Band in 2015. She grew up steeped in the traditions of English and American traditional music and dance. After studying classical violin at Wesleyan University, Joanna began playing for English and contra dances in New England in 1999, with a focus on Quebecois repertoire. Her dance experience now energizes Yiddish dance, and she performs with the Wholesale Klezmer Band and the Yiddishkeit Klezmer Ensemble. When not playing fiddle, Joanna teaches history, religious studies and civics to middle school students.

We are usually accompanied by a guest bass player and at present enjoy performing with Joe Blumenthal
of Northampton MA.

Zikhrono l'vrakha

We mourn the loss of multi-instrumentalist David Tasgal z"l (violin, clarinet, bass, piano). He had performed in string quartets, marching bands, jazz ensembles, symphony orchestras and rock groups before joining Wholesale in 1998. Originally from Springfield, Mass., David studied clarinet, piano and cello, and later learned bass and violin. He taught stringed instruments and led and composed music for youth orchestras. Like many American Jews, he said, "I was suffering from a lot of cultural alienation. Playing with Wholesale filled an important need for me, especially when I saw how much the audiences appreciate being put in touch with a little Yiddishkeit.''
He added, "I think this kind of music is not just entertaining but of real importance because it delivers the easily forgotten message that there is fun in Judaism. In my spare time," said David, "I occasionally like to put on tefillin."
His memory is a blessing.

For information and bookings, call Joe Kurland at 413-624-3204 or email us at wkb@ganeydn.com

The Wholesale Klezmer Band Calendar
Wholesale Klezmer Band Recordings with sound samples

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