The Arty Semite

Yo La Tengo's New Groove

By Laurie Kamens

The fuzzed out dulcet tones of Yo La Tengo ring out on “Fade,” the band’s 13th studio album in a long and storied career that stretches nearly 30 years.

Courtesy Yo La Tengo

Proudly hailing from Hoboken, New Jersey, the trio is composed of guitarist Ira Kaplan, his wife and drummer Georgia Hubley, and bassist James McNew, all of whom share singing duties.

A staple of the indie rock music scene, the band has a cavalcade of accomplishments under their belt, including several movie soundtracks, an outstanding record of philanthropy, and the rare honor of inventing their own Jewish holiday tradition.

Since 2001 the band has played all eight nights of Hanukkah at Maxwell’s, a small restaurant and music venue in their hometown, with a varied roster of music and comedy guests making special appearances each night. Each year the band plays fan favorites and covers of Jewish artists, donating all the profits from the concerts to charity.

A few days prior to the release of “Fade,” Kaplan spoke to The Arty Semite about the band’s annual holiday festivities, the joy of continuously making music, and not giving fans all the answers.

Laurie Kamens: How does it feel to have created a new holiday tradition with your annual Hanukkah shows?

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