The Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s podcasts that is.
The Jersey Rhythm Devils, a unique Atlantic City-area band that performs party, blues and dance music from the 1920s (think Boardwalk Empire with a string-band feel), were recently approached by New York City’s Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which has, starting today, begun using the band’s music in its popular podcasts.
The tenement apartment building on 97 Orchard Street in New York was constructed in America’s iconic immigrant neighborhood, Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in 1863 and was home to nearly 7,000 working-class immigrants. The people faced the challenges of making a new life in America, starting their families with limited means and working in hopes of a better future for their children and generations to come. (Think Boardwalk Empire, once again.)
The museum started with Ruth Abram, a historian and social activist who wanted to build a place that honored America’s immigrants. Today, the Tenement Museum preserves and interprets the rich history of immigration through the personal experiences of the generations of newcomers who settled in, working and building their lives in the neighborhood.
The museum tries to bring about emotional connections between visitors and immigrants both past and present, enhancing the appreciation for the vital role immigration played in America’s past and continues to play in shaping the country’s evolving national identity.
The Jersey Rhythm Devils are a nifty fit for the museum’s podcasts as the band performs the music of the 1920s and is dedicated to bringing authentic arrangements and sounds of all types of exciting music from the Roaring 20s era — always with a few surprises in their sets, such as Tom Waits’ “Temptation” or Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” always done in a “20s” feel.
The band features violin, mandolin, piano, guitar, washboard, kazoo and lead singer Linda DeVaul’s genuinely retro voice.
You can hear The Tenement Museum’s latest podcast here. The new one is #1, titled “October 2011.”
Check out songs and video from the Jersey Rhythm Devils, including clips from their sets on the Atlantic City Boardwalk during the summer of 2011, as well as their appearances at Caesars Atlantic City for the “Boardwalk Empire” season two premiere parties, here on their official Facebook page and here in ACWeekly.com’s Local Music Guide.
— Josh Kinney