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Interview: Lukas Rande Talks Klezmer Music And Mames Babegenush's Upcoming Hamptons Show

T.J. Clemente

Mames Babegenush will be performing in the Hamptons on Thursday, August 29. (Photo: Tobias Wilner)

In an interview with Hamptons.com, Lukas Rande of the Danish band, Mames Babegenush told his unique story of how a talented musician and a few lifelong friends (started when they were 7-years-old) eventually ended up playing Klezmer music. Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. Mames Babegenush will be performing in the Hamptons on Thursday, August 29, at 8 p.m. at Guild Hall in East Hampton.

Over the last 15 years, Danish band Mames Babegenush has established itself as one of Europe's premiere klezmer-jazz ensembles. Their long list of awards include the Danish Music Award for Best World Album of The Year and three prizes awarded by the prestigious International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam, including the Jury and Audience Prizes.

In an overseas interview via WhatsApp, Lukas Rande explained his journey that has manifested itself into his band, Mames Babegenush, or as Rande noted, "a band that plays instrumental Eastern European Music." Rande explained, "We have been playing for sixteen years. When we started out we were focused on traditional classical music. That changed when we were actually inspired by music that was recorded in New York over 100 years ago by the masters of Klezmer music."

When asked about his path in music, Rande explained, "I started playing music (saxophone) when I was 7 or 8-years-old and it was at this age that I met Emil Goldschmidt (clarinet) and of course I knew my brother Bo Rande (flugelhorn) at that time, too. I met Emil at the famous Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen where we were in an elite Boys Scout music school. In the summer, we would have parades and shows on this old big stage. The three of us, (Bo, Emil, and I) were playing music five times a week, starting when were 8-years-old, mostly classical music."

So I asked when did you become interested in Klezmer? Rande explained, "Emil is from a Jewish background and was brought up with Klezmer music. Emil always knew this music, but actually I hadn't. It wasn't until I was 17 or 18-years-old that I focused on it because I am not Jewish. My first impression of Klezmer music was very impactful. It was a big kick getting to know this music and especially getting to play it front of an audience. We spent the next five years getting to know this Klezmer music, studying the old masters.

When I inquired about what was a turning point in his musical career, he said, "Then we got an opportunity to attend a two-week Master Class, led by David Krakauer that was actually held by Carnegie Hall in New York and this was our first U.S. tour in 2008. This was a huge experience for us."

I asked Rande do you play old songs or did you create songs he replied, "It's a little of both. We started out playing only traditional Klezmer songs, then we started playing some Eastern European stuff and now we play a 50/50 mix of that music and now some original stuff. We play around 60-70 shows a year all around the world, especially in Argentina. But New York is our favorite city."

About the Hamptons Rande said, "I have never been to the Hamptons, I was once in the other direction, Jersey, but no, never to the Hamptons. I have heard great things about the acoustics of Guild Hall and the wonderful music loving audiences."

Rande also wanted me to mention, "Stime, she is everything and so much more. My muse, my friend. She completes me."

Mames Babegenush consists of Andreas Møllerhøj, double bass; Lukas Rande, saxophones; Morten Ærø, drums; Nicolai Kornerup, accordion; Bo Rande, flugelhorn; and Emil Goldschmidt, clarinet.

Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, visit www.mames.dk.

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