SR2: Shake, Rabbis and Roll!
by Robbie Harris
The Beatles (!) developed as a band in the dance halls of Liverpool and the seedy bars of Hamburg. No such storied beginnings accompany the origins of the much less fabled band, “Shake, Rabbis and Roll,” or as it is affectionately known among its aficionados and assorted roadies, SR2 (that, at least, is the logo featured on band merchandise). But enough for run-on sentences!
SR2 got its start in the Spring of 1991, when Robbie was a congregational rabbi in Pelham, NY, and has been more or less performing ever since. Like most groups, we started as a "cover band," performing rock and roll classics from the 50's-60's and 70's (as well as more contemporary music). In 2003 we also began to perform original songs. This led to issuing our first CD, entitled "Tales of the Upper West Side"; like our live repertoire, it contains no Jewish or specifically religious music - just straight, good old-fashioned rock and roll! But fear not: none of us is quitting the proverbial "day job" any time in the foreseeable future! In fact, our current (2006) CD - also filled with SR2 originals - is entitled "Keep Your Day Job!" Finally, we are releasing a live CD concurrent with “Day Job”; this record is called “Live@Primetime,” and contains seven of the songs recorded at a party at Primetime Studios, in Yonkers, NY, last April.
Although at one point in our history, the band consisted entirely of rabbis, this is no longer the case. Robbie (vocals, rhythm guitar), Jeff Hoffman (vocals, lead guitar) and Larry Sebert (drums) form the band's rabbinic core; Jerry Snider (slide guitar and guitar synthesizer), Jerry Goldman (bass) and Barry Presser (drums) are the remaining members.
In addition to performing at clubs in NY and Westchester, SR2 often performs to raise money for a variety of worthy causes. For instance, we have performed on behalf of a church soup kitchen on 111th & Broadway; at the West End Cafe in Manhattan, where we raised nearly $2000 for World Trade Center relief; and have done several shows for MAZON (which means “food,” in Hebrew), an organization which distributes food to the needy of all faiths; at The Knitting Factory on behalf of “God’s Love, We Deliver.” In 2004 we dedicated funds towards Darfur refugees; last year, we returned to the Knitting Factory, raising money for “the Downtown Kehilla,” an organization representing several synagogues and other Jewish institutions.
Visit SR2's website: www.shakerabbisandroll.com