Yid Vicious was formed in 1995 in Madison, WI in order to ameliorate the woeful dearth of klezmer in America's otherwise pleasant heartland. Klezmer is Yiddish folk music, music for dancing and celebrating, and no band has caused more dancing and celebrating than Yid Vicious. Except Kool and the Gang, when they had that hit single about celebrating good times, come on; that caused lots of celebrating. But Yid Vicious is next, right after Kool and the Gang.
Indoors and out, at weddings, at Bat AND Bar Mitzvahs, on flatbed trucks, in ramshackle bars and luxurious ballrooms, on high festival stages and on bare sod, we've often driven crowds into flurries of freylekh-fueled dancing fury. And that's just warming up, yo.
Although our repertoire draws mainly on traditional secular Yiddish music, we strive to infuse the music with our collective aesthetic and experience. Rather than replicate a particular time and place, we celebrate the long-standing tradition of klezmorim incorporating new musical ideas into an organic and ever-evolving art form. Chew on THAT, Kool and the Gang!
All told, there are seven members of Yid Vicious, our musical arsenal consisting of clarinets, saxophones, fiddle, horn, vocals, guitar, bass, mandolin, prima, drums and sometimes theremin. Yid Vicious, ever hungry for attention, is available for weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, anarchist picnics, seances, boat shows, clam bakes, lumberjack competitions, corporate downsizings, highland games and other events.
Greg Smith clarinets
A Madison native, Greg has dabbled in a variety ofÝ styles throughout his musical career. He has been the bass clarinetist in the Madison Symphony Orchestra since the early 1970's, performs with the Capitol City Concert Band, and plays hot Dixieland with the Avenue Sizzlers. He is also a charter member of the Terrible Clown Band in Milwaukee's Great Circus Parade. He joined Yid Vicious to salve an inner need to play music in minor keys.
Daithi Wolfe fiddle
David was a Suzuki violin brat way back in the bad old days starting in Ann Arbor in 1968. After visiting Ireland in 1983 he changed his name to Daithi (pronounced Da-hee) which is Gaelic for David and changed his violin into a fiddle. He has played Celtic music in Madison for about 10 years, first with The Drones, and now with Far From Home (whose first CD, Tri, was released last March). Daithi joined Yid Vicious to take on a new challenge and because he used to jam on the front porch with Bob (on trumpet) when he lived next door in A2. When not playing music, Daithi plays schoolteacher at Hawthorne Elementary (4/5 grade), watches partner Sandy dance with Cycropia, listens to baby Fiona babble and toddler Mairead sing, and runs or skis (cross-country) whenever possible. His ambition in life used to be to become a politician, now it is to do away with them. SlaÓnte (Irish for Cheers!)
Geoff Brady percussion
A native of Pontiac, MI, Brady plays drums (and occasionally theremin) with Yid Vicious and other Madison bands like the Active Percussion Duo, the Gomers, Yammer, and the Opramones. He also plays solo occasionally, writes a little, and teaches sometimes. Brady is hard at work on his forthcoming one-man show, "Me, Me, Look at ME: A One-Man Show", and is very happy to be married to YV's hornist, the unflappable Kia. He is also the keeper of the Yid Vicious Blog.
Mike Pollay guitars
A Wisconsin native who began his musical career at a very early age, as the son, roadie and engineer for the critically acclaimed singing and musical revue The Pollay's (They sing). After enjoying a brief stint in an unnamed rock and roll band during high school, Mike went on to form the Gulf War era blues and rock quartet, The Red Pick Band, soothing the frayed nerves of an entire socialist community in the holy land of Israel. He returned to the land of plenty, where he sold an old, not to mention cheap baritone horn to an unnamed (Bob) bearded man in a thick coat, thus infiltrating the Interdimensional Klezmer Conspiracy. By the way, Mike plays guitar...and is very handsome... He plays in a reggae band sometimes, but finds that klezmer gigs usually offer better food.
Bill Solomon bass
Bill Solomon has been performing with Yid Vicious since 2000. He plays upright bass, prima and mandolin. He is equipment guru for the band and also sings harmony. Bill teaches private bass and guitar lessons as part of his full-time music schtick. He plays electric bass in The Dang-Its, electric guitar in MC Supa Ranks and His Rock Stone High Power, upright bass in The KGB, and can also be seen with an acoustic guitar on State Street in Madison, WI, trying to pry dollars away from beer drinkers.
Kia Karlen horn
Born and raised in Madison, WI, Kia plays horn in Yid Vicious, the avant-garde jazz-poetry odyssey Dyna-Music, and other more traditional horn-utilizing ensembles. She also plays bass in Yammer, a rock-like group that, among other venues, toured seven area laundromats during the lauded Yammer Summer Guerilla Laundromat Tour. With husband (& YV drummer) Geoff Brady, Kia has scored experimental music for silent film screenings, staged sock puppet performances of beloved holiday films, and invented a few instruments including the dangerphone (made of circular saw blades) and the chaerophone (an inflatable chair-bellows). Kia works at the Madison Children's Museum, where she often figures out ways to do this sort of stuff for a regular salary.
Melissa Reiser saxophones
Saxophonist Melissa Reiser left the relative comforts of a music teaching job (Luther College) to broaden her horizons: yes, she went back to grad school, like anyone eager to avoid signing up for the real world would do. With a masters in ethnomusicology (world music) now under her belt, Melissa has decided to keep going so that she can subjugate college kids to the sounds of places they can't find on a map. Her most recent venture involved camping in the sands of the Sahara, squashing scorpions, and attending nomadic raves while researching Tuareg music festivals in northern Mali. Melissa plays / has played in the Afro-pop band Kweku Ananse and the Sweet Vibrations, the big-band Ladies Must Swing, the Milwaukee-based contemporary ensemble Present Music, and classical venues such as the Milwaukee Symphony and the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra.