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Rav Shmuel is a rabbi who hangs out in Greenwich Village and plays original compositions on his guitar. He has a beard and sidelocks and he loves The Dead. He does not see an inconsistency between these two identities. Rather, he thinks of Judaism and music as complementary and often coalescing tools and methods for communication (blah blah blah).
Rav, who has taught Jewish Philosophy and Talmud at various Universities, has also toured the country with Gefiltefish, his first stateside band, playing sold-out parking lots before and after Phish shows. He does not play klezmer, although he does make the odd Maimonidean joke. He thinks of himself as a Rock Star.
Born in Brooklyn, Rav spent seven years in Jerusalem teaching by day and playing in the clubs at night before moving back to New York in 2001. Typing "Open Mike Night New York" into Google pointed Rav to the notorious Antihoot held in the East Village's landmark venue The Sidewalk Cafe. He quickly became a house favorite on a scene that has produced such stars as Beck, Hamell On Trial, The Moldy Peaches and, most recently, Regina Spektor. Within months he moved up to being a headlining weekend act.
Rav recently released his first album "Protocols". As Billboard wrote, "Rav Shmuel's solo debut is an immediately likable bit of good-humored anti-folk that doesn't require the visuals or even the knowledge that, yes, Rav Shmuel really is a Hasidic rabbi ... like the old slogan for Levy's Rye Bread used to say, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Rav Shmuel"
Rav's animated music video, "Protocols" has been getting laughs and attracting attention all over the web. In less then six months "Protocols" has been viewed close to 40,000 times on YouTube.com and has won a Grand Prize of $5000 on OurStage.com a website where fans vote for their favorite songs and videos.
Why He's So Antifolk:
So what we're talking about here people is a thirty-something Orthodox Hasidic rabbi with six kids who is rocking the pants off of the East Village's freshest scene and using the web to take the world by storm!