Socalled (Josh Dolgin)
“The marriage of voice in performance with quartet arrangements is so profoundly affecting. Impassioned urgency, thrusting back and forth in voice and gesticulation is matched with vivid plucked strings and light bow strokes creating an added heart beat to the dramatic, emotional, yet clearly cerebral lyrics. Never has this famed quartet been seen so in love with the music they were playing. Clearly it had much to do with the wonderful artist leading and guiding them. The material stretched from the early 20th Century, across two world wars to the present; always maintaining a zest for life, for robust self-reflection and cry to action in service of a people, a culture.” David O’Brien, The Barefoot review (June 15, 2019)
“These songs form the core of this Cabaret Festival Performance and they are delightful, introspective, playful and uplifting; as Dolgin says, they are a celebration of “the riches of this extraordinary culture.” … Socalled, or Joshua Dolgin is clearly very talented but has a charming unassuming and self-effacing stage presence which warmed the hearts of this capacity appreciative audience. Although this is Dolgin’s first trip down under, I am sure that he won the hearts of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival audience who will want to see more in the future. And the Zephyr Quartet? Two words. Musical Geniuses.” Bob Becker, HiFi Way (June 17, 2019 )
Socalled Sings Yiddish With String Quartet
Josh “Socalled” Dolgin is a pianist, accordionist, producer, journalist, photographer, filmmaker, magician, cartoonist and puppet maker based in Montreal, Quebec. He has lectured and has led master classes in music festivals around the world, from Moscow to Paris, from London to LA, and from Krakow to San Francisco, and has performed on every continent. With 6 solo albums to his name, he has performed all over the world for more than 10 years, and his list of collaborators knows no generational, social, cultural nor religious boundaries. Aside from countless festivals and venues around the world, Socalled has performed at Carnegie Hall (twice!), the Olympia in Paris, the Apollo theatre in Harlem and the Arsht centre in Miami. He has played with, featured, recorded and arranged for Gonzales, Itzhak Perlman, Lhasa, Fred Wesley, Andy Statman, Adam Cohen, Boban Markovic, the Mighty Sparrow, Roxanne Shante, Irving Fields, Killah Priest, Matisyahu, Theodore Bikel, Enrico Macias and Derrick Carter… Dolgin was the subject of The Socalled Movie, a 2010 feature documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada.
He released an EP based on the Passover service, The Socalled Seder, which he produced in his apartment and sold through the mail in a world before the internet, with almost 1000 mail-orders! It was eventually officially released by Jewish hipster label JDub and hailed as one of the greatest new Jewish Music records.
He started to work with renowned clarinetist David Krakauer, producing his genre-twisting “Bubbemeises” record, which led to an offer from French Jazz label Label Bleu to record his first proper solo album. Featuring about 40 guests from all walks of musical life, Ghettoblaster featured the breakout hits “The Good Old Days” and “You Are Never Alone”, the video of which garnered some 3 million views on Youtube. The collaboration with Krakauer led to a project with James Brown’s arranger Fred Wesley “Abraham Inc” and the album of funk meeting Klezmer, “Tweet Tweet”.
Socalled came back with the 30+ guest-heavy Sleepover, which was nominated for a Juno award, and in he released the collection of songs he composed for The Season, a puppet indie musical fable for the 21st century which he also wrote and directed and was remounted at the prestigious Kampnagel festival in Hamburg, Germany. His original Yiddish gangster puppet musical, “Isaac Babel’s Odessa Stories”, was presented at the Segal Center in Montreal in 2013: the cast recording will be released shortly. Socalled’s work with cellist Matt Haimowitz, a re-working of Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, garnered another Juno award nomination. In December 2015, he was presented with the “Adrienne Cooper Memorial Dreaming in Yiddish” award for his work disseminating and exploring Yiddish culture.
2015 saw the release of Peoplewatching, an offering of infectiously fun, passionate and timeless mini-odes for the booty pleasure of all, which featured a panoply of varied styles, languages and talents.
His remix of the theme for CBC’s flagship news digest “As It Happens” plays 3 times a day across Canada. When he’s not working in the studio, Socalled makes cookbooks, draws cartoons, edits video and practices Kurt Weill on the piano.
The Socalled Movie
In 2010, Garry Beitel directed a feature-length documentary, The Socalled Movie, describes as a dynamic kaleidoscopic portrait of Socalled (aka Josh Dolgin). More information is available on the National Film Board of Canada’s website.