Music-Keeping Atlanta’s Jewish Culture Alive

Music-Keeping Atlanta’s Jewish Culture Alive


Bram Bessoff
Bram Bessoff

Ever wonder where all the Jewish kids go at night? Sunday they were with me at the Hoodie Allen show, throwing down in midtown at Center Stage, where I wrote this article, to a packed house of raging kosher hormones.

‘Who is Hoodie Allen?’ you might ask. But the more important question is, how did Hoodie Allen book and fill Center Stage all on his own without a manger, record label or distribution deal?

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Not just two weeks ago I got hit up by a few Jewish teens requesting to bring him out for the next AJMF Spring Festival this coming March, so I began my research.

Hoodie Allen, born Steven Markowitz, was raised Jewish in Plainview, Long Island where he wrote lyrics and performed his tunes at house parties under his childhood nickname “Hoodie” to which he later added the “Allen” as a comical way to describe his personality – he is anything but urban.

A fellow former-AEPi brother at U Penn, (I was AEPi at Syracuse class of ’93) he left his first job at Google to follow his dream of becoming a hip-hop recording artist.

Success for Hoodie began even before Google, back in college, where he garnered an MTVU Best Music on Campus Award for tracks off his two college productions “Bagels & Beats” & “Making Waves” under the duo Steve Witz and Obey City.

In 2010, Obey left the project and Markowitz continued on as Hoodie Allen, beginning a new collaboration with producer RJF on the mixtape, “Pep Rally” that was downloaded over 200,000 times.

In proper indie fashion he kept releasing new material with his next record, “All American,” released spring of 2012, featuring the crowd favorite “No Faith in Brooklyn (feat. Jhameel)” which debuted as the No. 1 album on iTunes.

He went on to sell out rooms like NYC’s Roseland Ballroom and open for Passion Pit in front of 10,000 people at University of Minnesota.

An acoustic based EP titled “Americoustic” was released on Aug. 13that debuted at No. 4 on iTunes and kicked off yet another tour, “Party with Your Friends” which brought him here to Center Stage Atlanta this past Sunday.

None of the kids in the audience knew any of this, I can guarantee. What they did know is that Hoodie puts on a killer show and has a slew of catchy tunes.

He keeps the crowd engaged by constantly changing things up, whether it is a tune featuring his bassist and lead guitarist on cowbells, floor toms or he is crowd boating, not surfing – he used an inflatable raft to move across the sea of teenage hands barely keeping him afloat (he almost took a dig a few times into the abyss of hot and sweaty, not-so-nimble kids in the crowd).

None of this still answers the question: how did he get so many kids out to his show? The answer lies in the way he communicates with his fans.

It all started with HAM “Hoodie Allen Mondays” where he would stream live chats featuring new music and trivia. The first to answer would get a live call from Hoodie on the show.

After Google Hangout became available, the show switched platforms and was renamed to “Hoodie Hang” – this worked amazingly well for the release of “All American.” The night-prior to the drop date, he used the platform to announce that he would personally call each fan who purchased a copy to say thanks.

Needless to say, he is still making calls to the 30,000 people that signed up that night to buy his record.

He took it one step further and created his own street teaming engine rightfully called the “Hoodie Mob,” where fans are assigned certain tasks to help promote shows in exchange for private meet & greets prior to the show, free merch and other bennies relative to the amount of work they do to help put tuchases in seats.

This is how he does it, and it is brilliant. Engage and capture your audience, not only during your show but before and after as well.

So what does this have to do with saving the Jewish culture through the power of music? Simply put, provide a cool experience for teens and they will come.

I’d love to bring Hoodie Allen back for this spring’s Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, depending on how much he wants to. We could expose hundreds of local teens to a part of Jewish culture that they can sink their teeth into and call their own.

That’s the magic bullet – give them something they can call their own. So how can you help make it happen?

Just so happens that last week the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival started its fundraising for the 5th Annual Spring Festival and all you need to do is support it with a couple dollars and a few minutes of your time to spread the word.

If there is one force powerful enough to motivate and connect a teenager to their religion and culture, music is your best shot, start today by visiting

Bram Bessoff is a drummer and musician. When not onstage, Bram sits on the board of directors as VP for The Atlanta Jewish Music Festival.Follow Bram’s experiences on, off and backstage @bram_rocks. Interact with him at #InItForTheMoment and share thoughts, comments and ideas about this column.








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