Steve Lieberman (1958-2011) (also known as the Gangsta Rabbi) is a Jewish-American punk rock singer, musician, composer and producer residing in Long Island, NY.He died of leukemia after playing a show. Considered an outsider musician,[1] "walking the line between insanity and genious",[2] partially attributed to his bipolar disorder,[3] he has released 19 CDs[4] and has shared the stage with Weezer, Andrew WK, Glassjaw and Ryan Dunn.[5]

In 2009 Lieberman signed a multi-album deal with Jewish indie label JDub Records.[6] As of the spring of 2011, Lieberman, a town comptroller by trade, was "the world’s only orthodox Jewish heavy metal musician with a record deal", according to Newsday.[7]

Lieberman's 2010 song "No Festival of Lights (On This Hanukkah)" has received honorable mention placement in the Song of the Year Award[8] as well as airplay on Rich Russo's Anything Anything radio show[9] on New York City WRXP 101.9 commercial rock radio (now WEMP). Steve Lieberman was the subject of two three-hour long radio specials on Stony Brook University Radio WUSB (FM), one in 2009,[10] and one in 2008 after the release of his Psych Ward album.

Additionally, two of his recent songs, "I'm Not a White Boy" and "Obama-Rama, Yeah!" both held the #1 spot on the SoundClick alternative genre chart.[11]

1958-1991 the early years

Steve Lieberman was born on June 21, 1958 in Brooklyn, NY[12] to a working-class Jewish family. At the time of his bar-mitzvah in 1971, Lieberman, already an observant Jew, acquired a bass guitar to fill a vacancy in his junior high school jazz band. He picked up the instrument and started playing it upside-down and backwards. After passing the jazz band audition, he had developed a crude system of chords for the bass, when properly distorted mimicked the major chords of the 6 string guitar.[13] Forgoing this method for more conventional bass playing, Lieberman became the bassist for hard rock as well as jazz-rock fusion bands throughout high school. During this time, he suffered from major depressive disorder[14] and committed parasuicide at age 17. Amidst episodes of depression and mania, Lieberman graduated college in 1980 with a BBA in accounting, where he worked his way up to become town comptroller[15] by 1998, a position he still holds.

On hiatus from music through much of the 1980s except for the recording a vinyl single "Nuclear Blitz (Edits 96 and 85)" in 1984, playing all the chords and leads on the bass guitar. Lieberman was married four times and divorced three times by his 33rd birthday.[16]

[edit] 1991-1994 the underground cassette tradeEdit

Planning to return to music briefly in the spring of 1991, to commemorate his 20th year of playing the bass, this time accompanying himself with a used Yamaha DD-6 drum machine. By year's end he recorded a 13 track cassette called Bang The Bass Bopmania[17] by year's end. Overdubbing tracks by using two portable cassette players, Lieberman started writing and recording bass-only crude punk/hardcore music. There was a free paper area at the time called The Musician's Exchange who would review Lieberman's cassettes and those of like-minded musicians in a column called "Independents' Day." This resulted in trading tapes amongst the musicians and circulating them throughout the underground.

Lieberman recorded under the "Bop Bop Bigger Bab'el"[18] moniker from 1991 to 2001.

[edit] 1994-2001 enter The Gangsta Rabbi-stage leftEdit

Steve Lieberman with curve-headed flute 21 October 2007In 1994, Steve Lieberman began to study the Bible continually, as he did in the years following his bar-mitzvah. This time, he realized discrepencies from the Word in the Bible to the way modern Judaism is practiced. An example of this, is that the modern Jewish calendar, besides having its months named after Babylonian gods[19] violates a Commandment given in Exodus 12.1,[20] where the new year must be celebrated on the new moon directly preceeding Passover so why do 10 million Jews disobey G-d by celebrating "Rosh Hashannah"[21] in the seventh month?

After confronting a rabbi with this question after he performed a grave unveiling ceremony, and the rabbi was unable to answer, Lieberman recorded his 20th tape entitled Gangsta Rabbi, the title track becoming his theme song and stage name -because "he picked theolological battles with real rabbis".[22]

His biblical studies caused Lieberman to break off from existing Jewish sects to found the Badlan'im (Heb:"isolationists")sect in 1995[23] where precepts include fasting, continual prayer, vegetarianism,[24] and belief only in the Bible as the law, so that G-d's word is not superseded by that of the Talmud and other rabbinical writings. Additionally, he replaced the calendar from the current system, in the 58th century, to a more appropriate system, being in the 35th century,[25] commemorating The Exodus from Egypt.

Packaging a live cassette from a First Night festival on New Year's Eve 1995 as Mission of Tolerance 5755-Live the Musician's Exchange's head writer Paul Incinitti said of Lieberman's show, "based on the sound of the screaming crowd, Lieberman should tour and call (the tour) "No Sleep To Gaza". He is every skinhead's nightmare".[26]

[edit] 2001 ashes of Bad'laniaEdit

After the release of his 36th cassette,Diaspora Blaster 36 in the spring of 2001, Steve Lieberman's house and studio were completely destroyed by an electrical fire.[27] He acquiring a used flute and a book on how to play it, he wanted to start a genre that would fuse the flute with punk rock, as Jethro Tull did for blues-rock three decades prior.

[edit] 2002-2003 just AWFUL?Edit

By the spring of 2002, the studio and house were rebuilt and Lieberman purchased a Korg D1600 16 track digital recorder. Deciding that the user's manual was too thick and a bit boring, he just plugged in and winged it and three months later, out comes his first cd Bad'lania Rising, a "greatest hits" collection of the first 38 tapes. The title was the sequel of his last tape Ashes of Bad'lania where "Bad'lania" is the homeland of his Badlan'im sect.

[edit] Bad'lania RisingEdit

By its 27 August 2002 release songs from Bad'lania Rising were known through the use of on-line music distributors, the largest at the time was His song "Puppy" debut at 719 in the Garage Chart and "Gangsta Rabbi" at 1229 on the Jewish/Israeli list on on 6/24/2002, the first day after release. Looking for a genre that will tolerate his new style, the progressive rock community showed least objection. In a review in their site which yielded Bad'lania 2 out of 5 stars said the record was "awful", but praised his newly learned flutework which was played over the racket of everything else and closed by saying "we are fascinated by the eccentric, which Lieberman or his musical personna is".[28]

[edit] Jewish LightningEdit

Re-recording many of the post-1996 heavily Jewish-themed tunes with the exception of the new Astroland Spring-Green '415, Lieberman's second CD Jewish Lightning was released on 16 September 2003. This record, as Bad'lania received some poor grades for listenability because of Lieberman's overuse of ethnic instrument and non-conforming methods in the studio, but for the content, "identifying with Biblical ancestry and anger towards the Holocaust" he was dubbed "a proud Israelite poet" by Binyamin Bresky at Cleveland Jewish Radio.[29]

Additionally, in a tribute to nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal after his 2005 death, Jewish music journalist Baron Dave Romm said of Lieberman in a review of Lightning, "his attitude and energy are infectious. if he has something to say, damn he's going to say it. ...He is as smouldingly angry as Simon Wiesenthal."[30]

[edit] Desert Fever BrigadeEdit

The Desert Fever Brigade sessions during the spring and summer of 2003 yielded 35 songs of which 21 of the most "commercial" were included. The album was released on 29 December 2003. Reviewers showed the work little respect as Adam Mico of the Daily Vault said his review of DFB [31]--Mr Lieberman has no control center in the brain, hence this CD sounds the way it does. After Desert Fever Brigade's release, Steve Lieberman held the #1 artist spot on, a large on-line distributor in Australia for 6 weeks spanning December 2003-January 2004.[32]

[edit] 2004-2005 skinheads in my yard oy veyEdit

[edit] Liquidatia-455Edit

For the release of his 4th album to be called Liquidatia-455, he was invited to promote the album by Jill Morrison at WUSB (FM) on 9 June 2004,[33] "Liquidatia" charted on some college radio Top 30 charts at Harvard(#28), Montclair State(#6)Duke University(#30) and Stanford(#27)[34]

[edit] Jewish Riot Oy! Oy! Oy!Edit

Steve Lieberman plays bass solo-Cup-A-Cino's Detroit, MI 9/18/2004In September 2004, Lieberman travelled to Detroit, where he played, recorded and filmed a show and released the results as what will be his 6th CD and first live record called Jewish Riot Oy! Oy! Oy!, released 5 January 2005, Although the small audience was evident by the limited applause. journalist James McQuistion said that "the live-feeling is the essence of Lieberman's of the unnecessary chaos apparent in his other works."[35] Bill Cuevas, music director at KZSU Stanford University summed up Lieberman's attitude as a live performer in his review of Jewish Riot which peaked at #41"[36] there are obviously so few in the audience, yet this guy gives it the performance of his life.[37]

After returning home from Detroit, Buttons, his beloved lab mix who had been the subject of quite a few of Lieberman's songs, had passed at 14 1/2 on 22 September 2004. He played some shows in New York City including CBGB's and the Acme Underground. Author/promoter Steven Blush was promoting a Thanksgiving Eve jam on 24 November 2004 at Don Hills and was the first to book Lieberman as "Gangsta Rabbi".

[edit] Arbeiter at the GateEdit

After his attempt in New York City, Lieberman hooked up with the now defunct Long Island Music Coalition (LIMC) headed up by WUSB DJ, Rich Hughes who provided him with some work in clubs. When interviewed about Lieberman by Newsday in the fall of 2004, he said "(when he) first heard Lieberman on a local radio show in his car. "I nearly drove into a tree," he recalls. But something about the music stuck with him. I like the way he follows his own muse".[38]

Lieberman released his 5th album, Arbeiter at the Gate on 24 October 2004. When the Allmusic guide received their copy, because Lieberman dedicated a song "The A.M.G." to them, critic Gregory McIntosh reviewed the CD, giving it a surprising 3 1/2 stars citing "Mostly, the appeal of Arbeiter at the Gate, and indeed all of Lieberman's work, is the sheer and impressive fearlessness of it".[39]

Arbeiter peaked at #42 on WXDU-Duke University and on 22 May 2005 hit #87 at KZSU[40] and two weeks later, "Jewish Riot" re-entered at #360 one notch lower than "Arbeiter" holding #359.[41]

[edit] Jew in the UndergroundEdit

During the early part of 2005, Steve Lieberman frequented open mic night at a club called Munchaba in Levittown,NY. It was hosted by comedian/musician Evan Wecksell who referred to Lieberman as an "anti-musician". Lieberman and Wecksell did a few shows together called the "Jews Who Rock" tour.[42]

At the same time, Rafer Guzman, the local music reporter at Newsday came to one of Lieberman's shows and interviewed him for the paper. The cover of the article, published on 27 February 2005,featured a full-page picture of Lieberman playing the bass and singing at the show.

In the article, subtitled "A Crowd of Seven" referring to the poor attendance at the show, Guzman, in detail, describes the dynamics of Lieberman's stage show "from the "laying down of a slew of thunderous bass chords, (delivering the vocals in) his gravelly, slurred voice (and playing) a wild, high-pitched flute solo, with Lieberman occasionally slapping the bass to sustain the rumbling feedback.Concluding, Guzman states that Lieberman's music is all about his emotions and his message, not his talent.[43]

Shortly after, on 7 June 2005, Lieberman released his 7th CD Jew in the Underground.[44]

[edit] PunkifierEdit

On Tuesday 2 August 2005, the host signing in the artists for the open mic at The_Downtown recognized Lieberman from the Newsday article six months prior. Opening with "Dogpark" from Liquidatia-455 and closing with "Punkifier 76-FX" from his forthcoming album, the emcee books Lieberman to open for the Viva La Bam rock show Featuring Ryan Dunn and Don Vito the next month.[45]

[edit] Viva the Gangsta RabbiEdit

Steve Lieberman and his fans at the Downtown 3 September 2005At the "Viva La Bam" show at the Downtown, Lieberman had stationed a portable cassette stationed at the end of the stage. He had the results mastered on to a CD and was released as Lieberman's 9th CD (2nd Live) called Viva the Gangsta Rabbi releaded 6 January 2006. A new local rock magazine was released by editor Tiffany Rizzano called Perpetual Toxins She stated in the review that "Lieberman is a true rocker through and through, borrowing everything from experimental rockers as Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart to 70's British Punk and even 1980's hair metal, borrowing from Jethro Tull with the flute work on "Bonkey On the Donkey" and said his voice was more punk styled than Billie Joe when doing his songs in the "Green Day Medley".[46]

[edit] 2006-2007 Melancholia Between the PiratesEdit

Within two weeks of the "Viva La Bam" show, The Downtown closed down, destroying Lieberman's hope to do another show there. The Munchaba, where he was a regular closed down the week before. These events as well as the poor reception to his 8th CD Punkifer released (25 October 2005) caused Lieberman to sink into depression. With songs as "4-Hour Stiffy", "Fall Out Boy Oy Oy Oy" and the title song, a tribute to the vintage DOD distortion petal, Lieberman used to create the bass sound of the CD, it came just "one step of falling flat".[47]

[edit] Jewish PirateEdit

By the fall of 2005, Lieberman began to spiral downward to his worst major depressive episode in over a decade. From this, he had now suffered from writer's block, being totally unable to come up with a new song. He decided to record a CD of cover tunes and donate the gross proceeds to the North Shore Animal League, where he adopted his dogs, Buttons in 1991 and Midnite Buttons in 2004. Recorded December 2005, Jewish Pirate included songs originally done by Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, Jethro Tull, The Butthole Surfers, the Dead Milkmen, the Grateful Dead amongst others and was released on 30 May 2006 as his 10th CD. It became his first record to chart on WUSB FM where it hit #8 on 27 October 2006.[48]

James McQuiston at NeuFutur Magazine said of Pirate, "The results are strong for that of a cover CD, and hopes Lieberman's future recordings will continue in such a direction.[49]

In February 2006, Lieberman was feautured on a 7-minute clip on Cablevision News 12.[50] However it was only played between 11 AM and 4 PM on a Wednesday, to a sparce audience

[edit] Melancholia FallingEdit

Coming out from a 5 month major depressive episode in the spring of 2006, Lieberman documents it in his first "concept" CD Melancholia Falling his 11th cd released 31 October 2006. Syd Nathan of the Good Times Magazine said of Melancholia"Perhaps the most bizarre recording ever to come across my desk... being an old fashioned concept album as it deals with the Rabbi's recent bout of depression and coming with a actual warning against suicide on the cd itself, as the main character takes his life, this is totally convoluted".[51]

[edit] Last of the Jewish PiratesEdit

The follow-up to 2006's Jewish Pirate, another covers CD for charity, his 12th released 7 August 2007.

[edit] Shake the Missile BaseEdit

On Shake The Missile Base his 13th CD released 6 November 2007, the opening track "Public Suicide" exhibits Lieberman's failing mental health. As described by the chief editor of Magazine, "A heavily distorted album as is the usual Lieberman fare, he distances himself from sunshine-laden lyrics for angry words of rage, heartache, suicide and depression"[52] Jimmy Alvarado of Reviews said of Missile Base "some will see it as 'much ballyhooing and little talent' while others will find a uniquely genious quality in the unpolished delivery of songs like "Skinheads In My Yard", "Love @ Defcon 5" and "Rubbin' One Out for My Baby".[53]

[edit] 2008-2009 losing his mind in the psych wardEdit

In early 2008, complications from bipolar disorder got Steve Lieberman committed to the psych ward in a local hospital.[54] Being released in less than a week, in two month's time after that, he had returned to the stage, playing Farmingdale NY's Crazy Donkey, where he cut himself on stage with a broken fiddle bow.[55]

[edit] Psych WardEdit

After the experience of his confinement, Lieberman recorded his second concept album, his 14th cd Psych Ward, released 8 June 2008. Senior editor C.W. Ross at Indie Music Stop said "The songs' lyrics are a little tough to hear with talk of self-mutilation, cutting, death and suicide, but to get the point across, it's all necessary...Lieberman seems to exist to break the rules of writing, production and instrumentalization, playing a Jethro Tull-style flute and lead and rhythm bass with a vengeance".[56]

[edit] Overthrow the GovernmentEdit

Steve Lieberman holding up his curved-headed flute on stage at Madison Square Garden with rock band Weezer 9/24/2008When completing work on his 15th CD "Overthrow the Government" released 15 October 2008, a commercial rock radio station was having a contest for players of miscellaneous instruments, the prize is to appear on stage at Madison Square Garden with Weezer. Lieberman submitted the flute intro to I'm Jethro Tull and took 60.4 percent of the vote and got to play the Garden on 24 September 2008.

"Lieberman really started to fall into a groove with this recording(Overthrow The Government)...The music that Lieberman creates may be a little hard to get into, but the honesty of this work must be lauded and commended." said NeuFutur Magazine when reviewing the album. [57]

[58] Three months after the Weezer show, Lieberman was asked to return to the Crazy Donkey, this time to open for Andrew WK.[59]

[edit] 2009-2011 JDub Records' Gangsta RabbiEdit

[edit] Diaspora-A Folk-Punk History of the Hebrew NationEdit

Setting out in the fall of 2008 to do a second concept cd, Steve Lieberman took the history of the Jewish people. Starting with the call of Abraham, going through the Old Testament to the Holocaust and finishing with "4th Diaspora-The End Time" with the underlying message that so much misfortune befell the people because of their disobedience to G-d's Law [60]

Finishing the record in January 2009,at the same time of the Israel-Gaza crisis erupted, Lieberman closed the album with the controversial "For the Children of the Gaza"[61]

In a June 2009 review in RadioIndy Lieberman receives another comparison to fellow outsider musician Wesley Willis but "relying on shock and awe bursts of scorching bass licks and howls of reverent fury to trace the tormented Judaic arc from pre-biblical times to the 21st century"[62]

[edit] DiscographyEdit

[edit] Studio albumsEdit

  • Bad'lania Rising (2002)
  • Jewish Lightning (2003)
  • Desert Fever Brigade (2003)
  • Liquidatia-455 (2004)
  • Arbeiter At The Gate(2004)
  • Jew In the Underground(2005)
  • Punkifier (2005)
  • Jewish Pirate (2006)
  • Melancholia Falling (2006)
  • Last of the Jewish Pirates(2007)
  • Shake The Missile Base (2007)
  • Psych Ward (2008)
  • Overthrow The Government (2008)
  • Diaspora (2009)
  • DiKtatoR 17(2009,2010)
  • Jewish Engineer 18 (2010)
  • The Rabbi Is Dead (2011)

[edit] Live albumsEdit

  • Jewish Riot Oy! Oy! Oy! (2005)
  • Viva the Gangsta Rabbi (2006)

[edit] Studio CassettesEdit

  • Bang the BassBopmania (1991)
  • Bop The Referendum (1992)
  • Tails From The BopSide (1992)
  • BopZone Distributor (1992)
  • Resurgence In The FaKtory #5(1993)
  • Labourer #6 (1993)
  • Velociraptor Factor #7(1993)
  • Planet Bab-'eL #8(1993)
  • Poverty #9 (1994)
  • Recession #10(1994)
  • Liquidation #11(1994)
  • Yom Ha-Sho'ah Bab-'eL #12 (1994)
  • Zionist #13(1994)
  • Tolerance #14 (1994)
  • YeruBab-'eL/The Underground Resistance #15 (1995)
  • Desolation #16(1995)
  • Mishneh ha-Redaktor #17 (1995)
  • Diaspora #18 (1995)
  • Tblisi #19 (1995)
  • Gangsta Rabbi #20(1996)
  • Delivering The Reprimand #21 (1996)
  • 57-Bad'lan-7 #22 (1996)
  • Gomorrah 5750 #23 (1996)
  • Powderked M'Shar'ot #24 (1996)
  • Slamming The Mercenary #25 (1997)
  • Terror Mis-ab'ib #26 (1997)
  • Bondsman #27 (1998)
  • Upper Desert Discourse #28 (1998)
  • Bad'lanian Public Works #29 (1998)
  • My Magic Last Days #30 (1999)
  • Y3.451K-No Problem #31(1999)
  • Laboured All These Years #32(1999)
  • Servitorship #33(2000)
  • Bop Gun '451 #34(2000)
  • The Noisy Minority #35 (2000)
  • Diaspora Blaster #36(2001)
  • Fire Sale Box Set #37 (2001)
  • Ashes of Bad'lania #38 (2001)
  • Public Kennel Wagging #39(cd-2002)

[edit] Live CassettesEdit

  • Mission of Tolerance 5755(1995)
  • Ministering The Badlan'im(1996)
  • Berlin 3451 (2000)

[edit] ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ McIntosh, Gregory. "All Music Guide-Steve Lieberman-Arbeiter At The gate Review-2004". Retrieved 20 November 2004.
  2. ^ Johnson, Miles (August 2006), "Flute Loop: The Gangsta Rabbi", Dazed And Confused
  3. ^ Haskell, Wildy. "Review of Steve Lieberman "Psych Ward" 7/16/2008". Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  4. ^ "All-Music Guide-Steve Lieberman The Gangsta Rabbi Discography". Retrieved 8/14/2011.
  5. ^ JDub Records. "The Gangsta Rabbi". Retrieved 3 March 2010.
  6. ^ White, Adam. "Steve Lieberman the Gangsta Rabbi Signs With JDub Records". Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  7. ^ Epstein, Reid. ""His Music Is the Message-Village Comptroller Rocks out as the Gangsta Rabbi". Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  8. ^ Song Of the Year Award, 2010. "'Steve Lieberman Receives Songwriting Award". Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  9. ^ Russo, Rich. "WRXP 101.9 Anything Anything Playlist for 12/5/2010". Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  10. ^ WUSB, 90.1 FM. "Steve Lieberman The Gangsta Rabbi Live on WUSB Airwaves-5/9/2009". Retrieved 9 April 2009.
  11. ^ SoundClick. "Steve Lieberman the Gangsta Rabbi's music page on Soundclick". Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  12. ^ Billboard Magazine. "Biography page for Steve Lieberman the Gangsta Rabbi". Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  13. ^ SoundUnwound, The Personal Music Encyclopedia. "Steve Lieberman The King of Jewish Punk biography". Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  14. ^ Zeitlin, Alan. "JDub's Gangsta Rabbi". Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  15. ^ "Accountant Finds Outlet In Punk Rock". Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  16. ^ "The Gangsta Rabbi". Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  17. ^ Croland, Michael. "Pre-Shabbat Blessing-The Gangsta Rabbi". Retrieved 2 April 2010.
  18. ^ "Bop Bop Bigger Babel". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  19. ^ "Judaism:Calendar". Retrieved 08/11/2011.
  20. ^ "Exodus 12:1". Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  21. ^ ""What Is Rosh Hashanah?"". Retrieved 08/01/2011.
  22. ^ Guzman, Rafer. "Outsider Musicians On Long island". Retrieved 27 February 2005.
  23. ^ ""Playing To their Own Tunes"". Retrieved 27 February 2005.

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