This Year’s Hanukkah Hullabaloo Will Be A Star-Studded (Virtual) Party
Brothers Lazaroff’s first-ever Hanukkah Hullabaloo had modest origins. Texas-based singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman was coming through St. Louis on his 2011 “Hanukkah Tour,” and brothers Jeff and David Lazaroff reached out to see if their band could open for him. He suggested an after-party instead, so they went with it. And to their surprise, as Jeff Lazaroff recalled, “It became a thing.”
In fact, after nine packed-house hullabaloos at various locations around town (Create Space, Joe’s Cafe and Gallery, the Grandel Theatre), the brothers were making plans to take the Jewish-themed party-slash-concert on the road. Austin and Chicago were in their sights.
Then came the coronavirus. But while the ongoing public health crisis put an abrupt halt to in-person events, it would take more than a global pandemic to stop this year’s celebration. Brothers Lazaroff has now taken the hullabaloo virtual. They’ll perform around a backyard bonfire, with an eight-foot menorah and cameos from a host of big-name guests, including Tweedy, Ray Benson and, yes, Kinky Friedman himself.
On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Jeff Lazaroff explained that this year’s event has special resonance. Hanukkah remembers a time when the Jewish people were under attack. They had only enough oil to light the temple for one day, the story goes, yet a miracle kept their lamps lit for eight.
“It speaks to being resilient as a people, and overcoming. But like a lot of Jewish holidays, it goes with, ‘They tried to kill us, God saved us, let’s eat,’” he said. “There’s a part of this holiday that is very much of coming together despite challenges, despite a devastating situation, but yet we can still be together as a people, as a community.”
Of the hullabaloo, he added: “It’s far beyond the Jewish community. It’s all people. It’s really people of all faiths who have gotten into it and responded to the energy and the spirit and the overall vibration that comes with the event.”
While the brothers have stayed distant from their band (a group that can swell from six to 11 performers, depending on the occasion) during this pandemic, they haven’t stopped making music. On the show, they shared some music from their new, all-acoustic EP, “Breathe With You.”
David Lazaroff explained the album’s stripped-down vibe was directly inspired by the brothers’ circumstances this spring. “Jeff and I had been quarantined with our own families and hadn’t even been bubbled [together],” he said.
Still, a cousin had encouraged them for years to do a two-man album, and the forced separation presented the perfect opportunity. “We get asked to do stuff as a duo, and it’s fun to know we can pull it off and it’s fun to do,” he said. “It actually has been fun to figure out how to make that work really well.”
Jeff Lazaroff said working without their bandmates’ contributions was a challenge.
“We’re so used to having that bed, that comfort, that when it’s just David and I bare and raw with our acoustic guitars, it definitely takes another level of focus and different approach to recording,” he said. “People responded to both the sparseness and maybe even the sadness of two acoustic guitars, compared to what we normally are — a big raucous rock band. At the same time, I think the material too, which was born out of the stuff going on, I think people responded to that as well.”
What: 10th Annual Brothers Lazaroff Hanukkah Hullabaloo: A Virtual Miracle
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 12
Where: Tickets are $10-$20 at Metrotix
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.