Temple Avodah congregants in the temple-born band Schleppenwolf & Co. will share their talents at the sixth annual Cabaret Night on April 27.
The group of 11 musicians, including some of the band’s family members, have a dynamic and energetic evening prepared, said Tom Wieder, musical director and former Temple Avodah president.
“There’s something for everybody here,” he said. “Some will know Ed Sheeran, some will know The Mama & the Papas. It’s an interesting mix.”
The guitarist formed Schleppenwolf & Co. with a group of four friends from Temple Avodah, Helena Shayer on vocals, Howard Eichenbaum on piano, Ben Velella on drums and Glenn Manion on bass. The name “Schleppenwolf & Co.” is a spin-off of the band Steppenwolf, famous for the song “Born to Be Wild.” The core group of musicians began playing music by Jewish composers, from Bob Dylan songs to 1940s jazz standards, as well as being a staple at temple services.
The band evolved over the years, increasing in size and playing a wide variety of music and other shows in addition to temple and Cabaret. Recently, it hosted a benefit concert and raised $19,000 for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
“As a musician, it’s wonderful to experience music with friends and family,” Jordan Kaplan, keyboardist and guitarist, said of the band. “Having my passion for temple and music combined into one is otherworldly.”
Temple Avodah’s first Cabaret Night was held at its Rudich Auxiliary building with 90 people in attendance. Since then, the yearly showcase has more than doubled in size. It is now held at the temple’s main building and typically draws about 200 people.
“We started it right after Hurricane Sandy to help people feel better,” said Temple Avodah President Lenore Greenberg. “It’s a charming and lovely night, really part of the community spirit.”
This year, the show’s theme is “Eclecticism” to reflect the wide array of music Schleppenwolf & Co. will perform, including songs from artists such as Queen, Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, Maroon 5, as well as Broadway tunes and classic rock jams.
Schleppenwolf & Co. will be joined by some of their musically inclined family members, including Wieder’s daughter Jessica, who is traveling from Maryland to sing with the group. “The ability to have her come and sing is one of the things I enjoy most,” Wieder said.
During the show, the band will invite audience members on stage for a segment they call “So you want to be a back up singer” to perform a special song with them.
“It has come to be more than a yearly show,” Wieder said. “The cabaret is just more example of how we come together as a temple family and open our doors to the larger community.”
The event will also raise funds for Temple Avodah. Tickets to attend are $40 at the door for non-members, which includes food and drinks. There will be raffle prizes, including a grand prize of two tickets to a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden.
“There’s a wide range of talent, and [the musicians] come and do this out of the goodness of their hearts,” Greenberg said. “The joy not only on the faces of the audience but the performers is wonderful and magical.”