Review of Rebecca Schwarz & Friends
Rebecca dazzles on stage. Her songs are funny, quirky and tear-jerking. I was with three girlfriends and we were emotional and revitalised on the way home. The music is brilliant and her band are world-class. Such a treat to have this talent on our doorstep. – Sonya Butterfield
Meet the Music
September 2021 found Rebecca leaving her marriage, officially single-parenting, (half of the time and missing her kids like mad the other half of the time), and dealing with a diagnosis of MS. It was a challenging time and the songs came. The songs came over and over again. Rebecca didn’t have great plans for them, they were more therapeutic than anything else.
The songs started arriving at a time when Rebecca really couldn’t feel any joy and they chart her journey to feeling alive again. The songs tell the story of Rebecca “remembering how”.
When she shared the songs the feedback was unequivocally positive.
So she was brave. She reached out to musicians who were her dream team and they agreed to be part of the project. Rebecca chose her 11 favourite songs, (choosing to focus on joy and mystery rather than rage and hurt). The band met 3 times; as a group they arranged these 11 songs into something quite magical.
The wild and disparate musical wonderings of Rebecca Schwarz’s imagination met their perfect match with these musicians who took the songs and made them so much more.
This show, “Remembering How” finally allowed Rebecca to share her Jewish heritage, her love of West Side Story and her passion for stomping oompa music with audiences.
The result includes meaty rock, gospel style guitar, wildly improvised kelzmer, stark jazzy songs, bouncing accordion, soaring violin, and the occasional kazoo all with a large dollop of Leonard Bernstein.
The following video is from a recent performance at The Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath.
Meet the Band
Jobe is the man who made initial sense of Rebecca’s crazy ideas. Rebecca said West Side Story and Jobe made it happen. Jobe plays loads of instruments in this show – violin, keyboard, accordion. Jobe’s energy and positivity is both inspiration and (a little bit) terrifying. But mostly utterly inspirational.
Jobe has played before with Germa Adan at Moseley Folk Festival. He has also played at Sidmouth Folk Festival, Cecil Sharpe House. He teaches bodhran, tin whistle, mandolin and banjo with the Birmingham Irish Association.
Read more about Jobe here.
Noemi La Barbara
Noemi is a jazz drummer who can rock the heck out. She’s Italian and lives in Birmingham. She’s cool as f**k. Read more about Noemi here.
Roger is also cool as f**k. I mean the whole band are, but we all know that the rhythm section are always the coolest. Roger’s website has a great bio and so much info it is a bit odd for me to paraphrase it here. Check out Roger’s website here.
Mark isn’t the sort of man who has a website. I’ll let him tell you why, (something to do with being from the 1930s). You can see Mark performing all over the country at events as varied as Peaky Blinder type events to classical duos but in this project he shares his best gospel infused, West Side Story, rock wailing stylings.
Iain spends a lot of his time accompanying actors, (who are singing), at Birmingham Conservatoire and you can read his biog on their website here. Rebecca nagged and nagged Iain until he agreed to join the team and we are all very glad that he gave into the nagging.
Prior to having children Rebecca sang with jazz combos and pop covers bands up and down the UK. She also ran workshops in schools and did the occasional acting job.
Since having kids in 2009 Rebecca focused on teaching, being a mum, and slotting in one woman theatre shows with songs when she could find the time. They started as mostly comedies with stories woven around theatre songs but her more recent shows featured her original songs. The first show was when her first child, Ben, was not yet one and she performed another show in a mini tour wearing a special dress that expanded till she was 8.5 months pregnant with her second child, Jack.
Rebecca’s most recent theatre show was “Baby Brained the Musical” her original play with songs, about post natal depression. Baby Brained was in the middle of a tour when Covid shut everything down. The changes in Rebecca’s life in 2021 meant she no longer felt able to tour Baby Brained and she is very happy to refocus her energies into “Remembering How”.