Barzelay will perform a solo show as Clem Snide at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Balcon de Loomis. Tickets for the show are $20 in advance or $23 at the door.
In some ways, Clem Snide mirrors Barezelay’s life.
“I was born in Israel, moved to New Jersey when I was 6,” he said. “Throughout my childhood, I never really knew where I belonged. I wasn’t exactly American. I always felt somewhere out of it all. My sense of myself was always fuzzy, in a cultural sense. It can be difficult. It turns some people into terrorists.
Barzelay, 51, faced a healthy dose of angst but decided to embrace it and reinvent himself.
“I realized that the promise of freedom lies in this kind of misfortune,” he said. “I also realized that your sense of yourself is an illusion but you have more control than you think. Most people don’t realize this. They are programmed to be who they are and they are afraid to question it.
This foreign status helped shape his music.
“In a way, I’m like a Diaspora Jew,” Barzelay said. “I don’t belong to anything. There’s nowhere on earth I’m going, that’s where I come from. My grandparents were also expelled from Poland during the war. Maybe it’s just my family dynamic. They changed names a lot, reinvented themselves in Israel, moved to America; no one knows who they are.