18 on 18: The Best of Dan Nichols & Eighteen
You asked for it, you got it—the best of Dan Nichols and Eighteen. Since the band’s formation in 1996, Dan Nichols and Eighteen have been on the cutting edge of modern Jewish rock music. 14 years later, Dan is one of the most popular and influential Jewish musicians in North America, performing over 200 concerts a year. His music has become an integral part of the Reform Jewish movement, with synagogue youth and clergy alike incorporating it into their services, song sessions, and educational curriculum.  

18 on 18 is a chronology of hit songs from all six of Dan Nichols and Eighteen’s previous releases. Among the 18 tracks are classic early tunes like “Babel” and “Always There” from the band’s first release Life in 1996, Dan’s huge hits “B’tzelem Elohim” and “L’takein (The Na Na Song)” from 2001’s Be Strong, the anthemic “Kehillah Kedoshah” from 2004’s My Heart is in the East, an awesome summer remix of Dan’s latest smash “Sweet as Honey” from 2009’s To The Mountains, and many more.

18 on 18 is jam-packed with songs that have become classics in the synagogues, camps, and youth groups of the Reform movement and beyond. It’s the ultimate modern Jewish rock mix!
You can order 18 on 18 at CDbaby.com (CD’s or digital download), Oysongs.com (Digital downloads only) and Soundswrite.com (CD’s only).
For more information on Dan Nichols and the new CD, 18 on 18, check out our website at www.jewishrock.com.

Thanks for your support,
Dan and the gang


Sweet as Honey

In the summer of 2008, I was asked by Jen Gubitz to write a new 
version of La’asok B’divrei Torah; the prayer for the study of 
Torah.  Inspired by my challenge and by the recent purchase of a new 
six string banjo, I began to write.  At first, I was thinking and 
feeling banjo/folk celebration all the way.   I shared it with my 
friend.  She said, “Well, um, thanks, but no.  It’s not working for 
me.”  I was stunned.  I thought the song was hitting the mark.

I put the song away for almost a year.

Eight months later, I shared it with the band,  banjo still in hand.  
The band was kind, but clearly unimpressed.  They suggested we move 
forward, but without the banjo.  I was confused, but trusted their 
guidance.  We moved ahead. No banjo. The version we recorded can be 
found on To The Mountains (Spring 2009).

At Hava Nashira 2009 I decided, on a whim, to teach Sweet As Honey 
(no banjo) to the folks at the retreat.  I was shocked to see and 
hear people jumping, dancing, singing all over camp “Sweet as honey, 
sweet as honey, sweet as honey on our tongue.”  People were singing 
it with such enthusiasm that I was sure it was sarcastic and that the 
joke was on me (It wouldn’t be the first time).  In fact, the song 
hit the mark.  It took almost a year, but it hit.  How humbling.  I 
scratched my head and thought, “I really have no idea.”

Over the course of that summer, people started asking for it quite a 
bit and we (the band) started playing it a lot.  Through the process 
of feeling the crowd’s energy and interest in the song, the 
arrangement started to drift towards something profoundly more rock 
and less folk.  It was good.  It felt great.

After the summer touring was over the band went back into the studio 
and re-cut the song the way we had been playing it live.  This latest 
version is called The Sweet As Honey Summer Mix.

Who knows what will happen?  Maybe it’s time for me to dust off the 
Hope you enjoy.


The Kao Tay Story

In the summer of 2005, Craig Taubman taught me this chant. He suggested it would be a good activity for group building.  He taught us to sing:

 Kao tay

Layna, layna mao tay

Ha-ya-no, ha-ya-no, ha-ya-no

 Later, Craig told me he learned in Algonquin Park, Canada when he was a song leader there.  He told me it is Native American and he had no idea what it meant.

 And so it was for me…

 I used the song and hand motions as a device that summer to get a groups focus without asking for their attention.  It worked very well despite some wierd looks from a few counselors and campers.

 I sang this song at Young Judaea Sprout Lake Camp that summer of 2005.  

 An Israeli counselor named Donna told me she couldn’t help but hear Hebrew when we sang it.

 She heard:

 Kach oti

L’an, l’an mahuti

Chayeinu, chayeinu, chayeinu.

 She translated the Hebrew for me as:

Take me

To where, to where, to myself

Our lives, our lives, our lives.

 I told Donna that’s cool, but what does that mean?  I turned randomly to a girl who was watching us have this conversation.  I asked her what it meant to her.  She said, let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.

 The next day she walked up to me with her friends.  They said, Tracy, Tracy, tell Dan what you think the song means.

 She sang:

 Help me find

Who I am deep inside

Help me see, help me see, help me see.

 We all erupted in applause and that night Donna and Tracy taught the entire camp their versions.  

 It was an incredible moment for all of us.

 I found out later that night that Tracy had lost her father earlier that year and had spoken to no one regarding her feelings over the loss.

 I was humbled and speechless.

 I decided to tell this story everywhere I go.  

 Now it seems, quite regularly, folks come up to me with their own piece of the puzzle.  It’s beautiful.

 A year went by and I was back in Oconomowoc, WI where I first heard this song from Craig Taubman.  I told the story late one night to everyone assembled at the conference.  As I was packing up my guitar and woman walked up to me and handed me a piece of paper.  She told me she was a folk dancer in Florida and that this song, Kao Tay, was indeed, a Native American song.  She told me the paper contained the direct translation from the Native American into English.  The paper read:

 Let me be one

With the infinite sun

Forever, forever, forever.

 So there it is.  It’s uplifting for me to be in the presence of something that takes on a life of it’s own.  When I learned this song I had a plan and a goal.  Then I started singing it with people.   I thought I knew what the song was meant to do.  I had no idea.

To the Mountains










Our new album To The Mountains  is now available for purchase at OySongs.com

the Summer Continues….

7/15 – 7/25/2009
URJ Myron S.Goldman
Union Camp-Institute
Zionsville, IN
7/26 – 7/28/2009
Camp Young Judaea
Sprout Lake
Verbank, NY
7/30 – 7/31/2009
URJ Camp Kalsman
Arlington, WA
8/3 – 8/4/2009
Camp Coleman
Cleveland, GA
8/5 – 8/9/2009
Henry S. Jacobs Camp
Utica, MS
Congregation Rodef Sholom
San Rafael, CA

When you’re songleading:

1. Consider stepping away from the microphone more often. Listen to the group. Do they have it? Are they singing well? If so, back off the microphone and let the group’s sound drive the space instead of you on the microphone.

2. Faster tempos do not always mean that the song is rocking, jamming, grooving, etc. harder. Sometimes I noticed in the fast parts of the the Shabbat Song Session that the tempos were really too fast. It made it hard to follow. Here is a suggestion, record one of your song sessions. Listen back to it the next day. Listen for tempos, tuning, blend, harmony, group volume to song leader volume relationship. Nothing tells the truth better than the tape. It can be painful, but do it, it’s good for you.

3. Hava Neitzei: Problem. This song was taught incorrectly and now all of camp sings it incorrectly. I think I understand what happened. I will try to explain it and how to fix it. I am pretty sure that it was learned at Hava Nashira in our URJ song leading track. I am pretty sure that Cantor Rose Boxt and I selected it as an “Oldie, but Goodie.” If my memory serves me, Rose taught the song in a call and response manner to get the phrasing out there quickly to the group. However, she never intended for the group to execute the song this way when sung in a song session. I remember her singing it with us the proper way, but I guess this was missed by the person that taught it at camp. With that in mind, here is how the song should be sung:

Hava neiztei b’machol (melody 1 going up on the last note)
Hava neitzei bimcholot (melody 2 going down on the last note)
Hava neitzei b’machol (same as the the first)
Hava neitzei bimcholot (same as the second)
Ya lei a lei, ya lei a lee…

Notice it is NOT call and response as it was executed on last Shabbat’s song session. I have heard the song done very slowly at the beginning and then speeding up with each repetition. It’s very cool this way.

4. Direct eye contact. Search for, find and lock in with individuals in the group with which to sing.

5. Memorize names of campers. If you’re bad at it, work on it. When I was in college I was always forgetting people’s names, It was embarrassing. I was terrible at it and I decided I was sick and tired of being in the awkward position of not knowing who they were. In addition, I have learned that people absolutely love you to know who they are. It’s a little thing that has a big impact.

Here are three techniques that have helped me.
A. When introduced to someone ask them how they spell there name. Especially if it’s a name that you already know how to spell. Say, is that Sarah with an h or no h? Is that Bob with one, two, or three B’s? You’ll get them laughing which is good. And this gives your brain some focus time on them, there face, their features, etc. with which to learn their name.
B. Spell their name when you hear it. Write it on their forehead with your eyes as you are speaking with them. If they ask you, “What the heck are you doing?” Say, “I am writing your name on your forehead because it helps me to remember your name.” Don’t be afraid of this. People love you to take time with who they are. This is universal.
C. Say their name out loud at least four times during your meeting them. This helps another part of your brain lock the information in so you will better remember it.
D. I am in no way a master at this. I share this only because it has helped me so much get over the hurdle of being unsure, and therefore, sadly so often not knowing a person’s name.

6. Practice your guitar, don’t just play it. Clearly identify your areas of weakness. Write them down. Seek help from the internet. Lots of lessons online for free. Seek help from players in your community that you have identified as better than you in that area. Ask them to help you. They will, and they will be honored that you have asked. You’re building another relationship. You will also notice that they will be much more invested in helping you when you are songleading.

7. Watch your ego. What does it matter if you are the head songleader or not? Does this mean that you are not allowed to do the work? No. You have tremendous power to impact the group positively and negatively. Go out and be the best You, you can be. Don’t worry about other people’s ego stuff. It has nothing to do with you. You have no control over that anyway. Think of ways that you can set up beautiful singing moments at camp FOR camp and then work on methods to get out of the way, literally and figuratively.

8. Get some harmonies going. Right now so many camps sing in a very linear fashion. Even on the songs where there are harmony opportunities, camps are staying with the leader on their part and not staying put to add a harmony. This has to be taught to camp. Do not expect that they will get it on their own. They will be hesitant at first, maybe even a bit resistant. You be sure to be re-assuring, loving, supportive, kind, patient and maintain your sense of humor. They will get it. Have trust in them and yourself. Let them know that you have complete trust that this will work out for the good. The group will always respond well to this sort of leadership. It’s very reassuring to the group. They are responding to a well rooted confidence that is not caught up in poor ego placement. Quite honestly, camps needs this presence very badly. Please offer it to them all summer.

9. Do something wacky, fun and crazy every once in a while. Share this wackiness with camp. We all need a good joke and a good laugh from time to time. Whether it’s a crazy song that has popped up on your itunes shuffle, or some song from Aladdin as I just recently saw a camp use for silly fun or a crazy skit or… Let the camp see that you don’t always take yourself so seriously as to not have fun. This will draw people in.

Whoa, dude, that was a lot of stuff right there. Hope it helps. Let me know. I would love to have your response to each of the nine points.

Hopefully we’ll get Dan up to speed on the blogging.  Summer is here (well almost officially here).  For Dan Nichols and Eighteen , it’s Jewish summer camp season.  Dan is currently rocking it at URJ Myron S.Goldman Union Camp-Institute in Zionsville, IN.

6/15 – 6/28/2009
URJ Camp Newman-Swig
Santa Rosa, CA

Institute of Southern Jewish Life
Jackson, MS

Henry S. Jacobs Camp
Utica, MS

Beth Israel Congregation
Jackson, MS

7/1 – 7/2/2009
URJ Camp Kalsman
Arlington, WA

7/3 – 7/5/2009
Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps
@ Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp
Malibu, CA

7/7 – 7/9/2009
URJ Camp Harlam
Kunkletown, PA

7/10 – 7/13/2009
Warwick, NY