Jewish band The LeeVees rocks the Rathskeller


Jewish rock band, The LeeVees perform at the Rathskeller on April 2 in the basement of the Student Center. Photo by Adrianne Bastas.

Rebecca Reis

The LeeVees taught Kent State how to spell “Channukkahh” through their song “How Do You Spell Channukkahh?” during their concert in the Rathskeller Monday.

The LeeVees started when Guster frontman Adam Gardner and the Zambonis’ Dave Schneider decided to form a rock band that focused on Jewish lifestyle. Schneider said they got the idea when he noticed a lack of Jewish songs during the winter holiday season.

“There was kind of a reason we made the record because there’s not many great Jewish songs for that time of year,” Schneider said. “Everybody says, ‘Oh, you’ve got the Adam Sandler song.’ We wanted to write funny songs, too, but we also wanted to make them really musical.”

The band released an album in 2005 called “Hanukkah Rocks” and an iTunes EP called “Jewish Stars.” Some of the songs on their album include “Jewish Girls (At the Matzoh Ball)” and “Nun Gimmel Heh Shin,” which was featured in an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“Everyone thinks we just write songs about Hanukkah, but we write songs about cultural Jewish things,” Schneider said. “We slip in some life decisions you have to make but they’re not really heavy topics. ‘At the Timeshare’ is about my mother living in Florida.”

Phil Torres, senior applied communications major and programming intern at Hillel at Kent State, said Hillel brought The LeeVees with the help of the Daniel and Ethel Hamburger Music Fund, Undergraduate Student Government, Center for Student Involvement and the student body.

“[Hillel] told me my job as programming intern is to bring in not necessarily religious programming or entertainment but just to inform people that we exist,” Torres said. “They’re not super religious but they’re still affiliated with Judaism so it seemed like a good balance.”

Torres served as emcee and warmed up the crowd with his stand-up act. Local musician Joey Priore got the crowd moving with a few original songs and covers like “Pumped Up Kicks” and “No Diggity.”

The LeeVees kicked off their own set with “Latke Clan,” a song about enjoying the Hanukkah holidays with family and food [latke is a potato pancake]. Both new and old fans clapped along with “Applesauce Vs. Sour Cream” [another song about potato pancakes].

Though many of the songs played focused on food, The LeeVees also played songs about Jewish girls, Jewish rock bands and a cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones.

The band also played songs from some of their side projects Guster, The Zambonis and The Macaroons.

“We just do our thing,” Schneider said. “We’re pretty unpretentious and we’re pretty light. But we definitely love music and love what we do.”

Contact Rebecca Reis at [email protected].