The Detroit-born composer, actor and director Daniel Kahn plays the accordion, guitar, piano, harmonica and a self-made ukulele. He sings in Jewish, English, Russian and German — sometimes he changes the language several times in the same song. The basis of his music is the klezmer, DEUTSCHLANDFUNK KULTUR once described it this way: “This is life, lust, humor, this is grief — the human condition. It’s all there!” He himself calls his musical style “Verfremdungsklezmer”, which suggests that he likes to change the music styles he mixes with Klezmer: “Klezmer-Yiddish-Punk-Rock” a critic once called it.
Viewed in more conventional categories, a larger part of his œuvre could be described as having been written by a musically playful and idiosyncratic singer-songwriter. He writes his lyrics himself or takes them from literature, whether in Jewish from Mordechaij Gebirtig or German from Heine, Brecht or Degenhart. In any case, his attitude as an artist and his songs are explicitly political. He says: “Years ago I came up with the concept of ‘coping with the present’. I am not interested in the past, I am only interested in the past insofar as it is not-past — the not-past-ness of the past.” He became known with his Berlin band The Painted Bird, which has meanwhile recorded five albums. The troubadour comes to Weimar with a contemporary collection of brittle ballads, crooked klezmer, prison-laments, revolutionary anthems and apocalyptic blues, supplemented by projected images, videos and surtitles from his partner Yeva Lapsker.