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Jerry Wicentowski(Frank Tamel)


As a teenager, Jerry Wicentowski rebelled against his Orthodox upbringing, but only to a degree. He wouldn’t take the bus from his Brooklyn home to Washington Square Park to join his friends for bluegrass jam sessions but instead he stayed at home, incessantly practicing guitar runs in his bedroom to the great frustration of his father. Now in his fifties, Wicentowski has stopped rebelling. He does not play instruments on Shabbat. But he’s a highly respected bluegrass musician who’s found a way to combine his passion for the music with his religious faith. His greatest limitation, it appears, is that he is unavailable for most weekend gigs. Reporter Jon Kalish profiles him in this week’s podcast.

Listen to two of Jerry Wicentowski’s recordings:

Shalom Aleichem, from the unreleased album A Shabbos in Nashville.

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Little Maggie, from the solo album titled Lucky Break, available here.

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