The annual St. Louis event with Detroit ties will take place online, raise money for independent performance venues.
The 10th Annual Hanukkah Hullabaloo, a concert put on by St. Louis band Brothers Lazaroff, will take place virtually this year on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. CST/8 p.m. EST, allowing viewers from all over the country to participate in the St. Louis holiday tradition.
Hanukkah Hullabaloo began in 2010, when David and Jeff Lazaroff of Brothers Lazaroff played at an afterparty for a performance by Kinky Friedman, legendary Jewish singer-songwriter and author from Texas. They went all out: They invited Rabbi James Stone Goodman, originally of Detroit, to perform a Hanukkah poem called “Eight Nights,” and even asked their wives to fry latkes on stage.
“This is the first time I ever got in front of like a rock and roll venue, you know,” said Rabbi Goodman, “and people really responded to it in such a strong way.”
It wasn’t a “Jewish crowd” at that first show, the Lazaroff brothers told the Jewish News. And as the event has grown over the past decade, it’s gained popularity in Jewish and non-Jewish circles alike.
“That’s what’s always been kind of cool about, it is it’s been celebrated almost more as a St. Louis holiday event than just a St. Louis Jewish community holiday event,” Jeff Lazaroff said.
The show has sold out 600-person theaters for the past two years. This year, David and Jeff – who are actually brothers – were hoping to take it on tour to perform in cities including Austin, New Orleans and Detroit. Like Rabbi Goodman, they have strong family ties to Detroit – their father’s family settled there in the 1920s, and their great aunt Emma Lazaroff Schaver was a famous Detroit opera singer and philanthropist.
Plans for a tour were put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but the Lazaroffs still wanted to find a way to perform the Hanukkah Hullabaloo.
“We knew we wanted to do something online, and then we started planning and it just got really fun,” said David Lazaroff.
This year’s Hullabaloo will feature prerecorded videos from Kinky Friedman and other performers from around the country, including Ray Benson, founder of Grammy Award-winning Western Swing band Asleep at the Wheel; Lee “Scratch” Perry, legendary reggae superstar and producer; and Jo Firestone, comedienne and writer for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
One big plus of holding the event online? Anyone can watch.
“The Hullabaloo tickles certain people’s funny bone,” said David Lazaroff. “It hits the spot for certain people because there’s the spirituality of having Rabbi Goodman doing his thing and having a rabbi help lead a ceremonial event and then there’s a lot of satire and comedy with the frying latkes on stage.”
All proceeds from the event will go to the National Independent Venue Association, a group that arose out of the COVID-19 pandemic to advocate for music venues and promoters that have struggled financially or had to close in the last nine months.
95 Michigan groups are part of NIVA, including Detroit venues like The Majestic Theatre Center, El Club and Aretha’s Jazz Café.
Tickets are necessary to access the live stream event and can be bought at link at http://www.metrotix.com/events/detail/hanukkah-hullabaloo-a-virtual-miracle.