Meet rock’s new ‘King of the Jews’

Meet rock’s new ‘King of the Jews’

The new single from the rock band Low Cut Connie doesn’t break new musical ground for the band,  whose several albums of bluesy, bar-soaked rock and roll with just a slight contemporary garnish have earned them fans from Elton John to Barack Obama, as well as a devoted following of their boisterous live act.

But lyrically, “King of the Jews,” which will feature on the band’s next album, “Art Dealers,” out Sept. 8, marks a milestone for the band’s lead singer and songwriter, Cherry Hill native Adam Weiner.

The song and video position Weiner as one of the most outwardly Jewish personalities in contemporary rock.

Weiner said he has been putting his Jewish identity and neuroses at the heart of his project for a while now, even though not all his listeners would have noticed. “In this culture and in the politics, you think you’re on safe ground, and you might not be. And delivering that message with a lot of humor and levity is very Jewish,” he said.

In an interview, Weiner, 43, argued that being Jewish had been more cool in the 1970s, and explained how being a Jew in a completely different time has affected him.

“There were so many Jewish entertainers and musicians who were very Jewy, whether it was Barbra Streisand or Neil Diamond or Lou Reed or Bob Dylan,” he said. “Then in acting you had like Dustin Hoffman and Elliott Gould. There was a real Jewish sensibility in that era.”

He said he thought the times had changed.

“It’s not particularly cool to be Jewish at this time,” he said. “The models of beauty and popularity.… I realized that I kind of had internalized certain things about how I should look, talk, and present myself that were very unflattering for myself. And luckily, over the years, my Jewy-ness asserted itself so much that I shed a lot of those things.”

Weiner grew up in what he called a “traditional Conservative” household — on the dial between Conservative and Orthodox.

“It was not fun,” he said. “I had friends who went to Reform synagogues with a hippie vibe, with acoustic guitars and secular popular songs and stuff. And that wasn’t how I grew up, mine was very strict, and very, very stone-faced.”

Weiner felt alienated from religion in his 20s, as he worked at several jobs — including at a mall as a perfume spritzer, a word he pronounces in its Yiddish version, as shpritzer — before his music career took off in his 30s. He steadily gained a following, and in 2020 earned his biggest wave of press coverage for his “Tough Cookies” series of quarantine shows he live-streamed from his apartment with his Low Cut Connie guitarist. He started many of those streams with a greeting of “Mazel tov, motherf—ers,” and occasionally talked about Yiddish words — in his view, he got “outrageously Jewy.”

“People really responded to it,” he said. “And it was a nice moment for me because I realized that I had been obscuring a lot of that and trying to be cool in a way. And I was like, I am extremely Jewy. Just gotta embrace it. And that is cool.”

And he did something else after the start of the pandemic that he had never wanted to do before: perform at his hometown Jewish community center.

Weiner is excited about what’s next for the band and he’s unabashed in leaning into his Jewish side onstage. He pointed out that he sometimes wears a jacket covered in Stars of David.

“I realized that even though I don’t have religious faith, even though I don’t keep kosher, and I don’t pray, I’m one of the most Jewish people that I know,” he said.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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