About the band?

The Shpilkes Klezmer Band is formed of players from the western suburbs of Boston. Starting in 2000 as the congregational klezmer band at Temple Aliyah in Needham, MA, the band has become a mainstay of the Purim celebrations and congregational events at various synagogues. Shpilkes is available for events around the Boston area.

The name "Shpilkes" (שפּילקעס) is a Yiddish word for "nervous energy". The most commonly quoted etymology appears to be from the Polish szpilka, "pin". The word is also sufficiently like the Yiddish term "shpil", meaning play, that it can help to think of it as "playing instead of sitting still". That's where Shpilkes Klezmer Band is at, hyperactive, ready to play and certainly not to sit still.

Klezmer is the traditional folk music of the Yiddish speaking communities of Eastern Europe and America during the 19th and 20th centuries. The term Klezmer derives from the Hebrew "klei zemer" (musical instruments), and encompasses a broad repertoire ranging from the instrumental dances that would have been performed at traditional weddings, Yiddish folk songs, the bigger sound of 20th century Yiddish swing that inspired many performers and songs of the Big Band era, and the show tunes of the Yiddish theater. No one can listen to Klezmer without wanting to dance to its lively, living melodies and relating to the instrumental voices that sing of the human experience.


Barbara Green Barbara Green: lead vocals, tambourine, shtick Barbara has been gracing the local music scene for the last two decades with performances at a variety of venues from synagogues to night clubs. In addition to singing Klezmer with Shpilkes, part of her repertoire includes performing at jazz and cabaret clubs, as well as singing the National Anthem for collegiate and professional sports. Her style and pizzazz have been critically acclaimed by local and international audiences. Ms. Green has also been featured with several Big Band and Swing orchestras throughout New England. She is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, a member of the Society of Pi Kappa Lambda in addition to being a licensed Massachusetts music educator .
Arnie Harris Arnie Harris: lead vocals, guitar, trombone Arnie is the music director at the Perkins School for the Blind and is also a music teacher in the Newton Public Schools. In addition, Arnie's original compositions for chorus, band and orchestra have been performed by many school and community based ensembles. He is also an active and established entertainer for young children in the greater Boston area. With Shpilkes, Arnie sings when he should and plays guitar or trombone when he shouldn't (sing that is).
Fred Ledley Fred Ledley: clarinet and hand percusion Despite working for more than thirty years in biological research and biotechnology, he still doesn’t understand how musical notations on a page and a clarinet in his hands spontaneously combust to produce melodious sounds and shpilkes. A student of Glenn Dickson (Shirim) and an alumnus of KlezKamp, he is a professor by day and also author of a novel, Sputnik’s Child.
Alan Posner Alan Posner: trumpet Alan and his trumpet have been together for nearly 55 years. He has played in marching bands (looked great in uniform); concert bands and orchestras; big bands and jazz quintets; and now Klezmer. In his other life, he is a partner in a downtown law firm.
Susan Silverman Susan Silverman: flute, alto sax, recorder, keeper of the road map Susan has played flute with Shpilkes since 2002. Susan manages (and plays flute and piccolo in) Parkway Concert Orchestra. She plays recorders in and manages Boston West Recorder Group, an early music group she co­founded in 1993. Susan also plays in the Needham Community Concert Band, pit orchestras for local community theater and has played in the Harvard Summer Pops Band. She is a member of the National Flute Association and the American and Boston Recorder Societies.
Jim Mavor Jim Mavor: accordion During the day he is a mild mannered computer programmer. At night he adds his accordion rhythm / melody styles to the the musical klezmer sound. Jim has been playing accordion and drums in of folk dance bands since the 1970's. He also plays a drum set as a member of The Maple Street Project, a folk/rock group, based in Needham, MA, that plays almost entirely original material, written by group members. Jim also plays accordion for a Square/Contra dance band on Cape Cod. Jim tries to fill in the middle rhythmic layer and add melodic flourishes to whatever environment he is in.
Dick Schoeller Dick Schoeller: bass, guitar, backing vocals, librarian, arranger and gofer Dick is the founder of Shpilkes and maintains a leading web site of Klezmer arrangements. Besides playing bass and guitar he occasionally sings, shouts and giggles maniacally.
Pam Furey Pam Furey: drums and percusion Pam started playing the snare drum in elementary school, back when there were half as many rudiments and girls didn't play drums. She didn't pick up sticks until recently, after borrowing a drum kit for her son. She never heard of klezmer until invited to join Shpilkes in 2009. Now, polkas and bulgars are among her favorite beats. A designer by day, Pam is discovering that playing in Shpilkes brings joy and energy to every aspect of her life.
Spirit Spirit Ledley z''l: music critic, wiring inspector, musician greeter Spirit kept an eye (and an ear) on us for years, at least when she was awake. She'll be missed

Contact Us

Dick Schoeller at 781.449.5476 or schoeller@comcast.net
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Coming Shows

Past Shows