The Shir Madness Jewish Music Festival is coming to Sydney’s Bondi this Sunday, promising an eclectic range of performers both local and international.
Now alternating biennially between Sydney and Melbourne, Shir Madness is the only large- scale Jewish Music Festival held in Australasia. It is also, according to the organisers, “unique among Jewish music festivals worldwide because of its broad and pluralistic approach to artists”.
The Festival is billed as a celebration of Jewish culture, tradition and talent. It encompasses many styles of music including contemporary tributes to Jewish composers and songwriters, cantorial, Yiddish, Klezmer, Ladino, Sephardic, Mizrahi, and Israeli music.
The programming also incorporates classical, folk, jazz, blues, rock, pop, world, reggae and hip-hop.
The 2016 line-up includes, in no particular order (and apologies to anyone omitted):
- Monsieur Camembert, festival favourites and a triple ARIA Award winning group, who have been at the forefront of Australia s GYPROCK scene for the past 13 years.
- Deborah Conway, who has won ARIAs, been anointed Rolling Stone Singer of the Year and been a major all-round contributor to the local music scene for over 30 years, more recently with long-time collaborator Willy Zygier, with whom she has recorded eight albums.
- Rick Melick, who’s played every major festival in the world including North Sea Jazz, Montreaux, WOMAD, and Bluesfest. He has also recorded and/or filmed with Eric Clapton, John Denver, B.B. King, John Hiatt, Paul Rodgers and Beth Hart.
- Nikki and Mel Jones, who as Jones of ARK have “brought a sense of the absurd to the serious business of light entertainment, with their deep understanding of the shallow human condition”.
- Haze Trio, a young band from Sydney, who in 2015 won the annual Sydney wide band competition The Balmain Blitz, beating 60 other bands along the way. They then followed this success by winning YOUTHROCK 2016. Haze Trio have released their first ever single, ‘Fire’, through Triple J.
- SqueezeBox Boogaloo, straight from Louisiana Bayous to New Orleans bars, “will get you clapping, tapping, and dancing to the zydeco and cajun rhythms, and to the accordion, rubboard, sax, guitar, bass and drum sounds”.
- Sam Joole, an Israeli born Australian singer, who has been touring globally for a decade. He “draws heavily from blues, country, soul, African harmony, Celtic riffs and classical melodies, blending them to create his own Aussie acoustic rock sound”. His first solo album, The Crescent and the Moon, was released in 2011 to five star reviews. His second album, Shapeshifting, was recently released as a series of singles via iTunes followed by an official album release.
- Before the King, winners of the B’nai B’rith NSW Battle of the Bands, who describe themselves as “just four boys who love playing and making music together and take very, very few things seriously”.
- Celine Farkash, a Sydney based singer/song-writer whose music ranges from “sassy jazz covers of pop songs to sweet indie acoustic mashups, bringing you an exciting new twist on songs you love”.
- Alexis Fishman, a Sydney-born, New York based singer/actress and Helpmann Award Nominee well known for starring roles in Dusty, Shout!, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and her own show Club Gelbe Stern. In 2012 she was named “Next Broadway Sensation” by the New York Music Theatre Festival. Alexis will be presenting her brand new show Boychiks of Broadway at the festival on Sunday.
- The Bashevis Singers, the children of generations of people who lived their lives in Yiddish. Husky Gawenda and his cousin Gideon Preiss are award-winning songwriters and core members of the critically acclaimed band HUSKY, while Gideon’s cousin Evie is a theatre director who is “known and loved for the beauty and warmth of her voice”. The group released a CD in March this year of live performances.
The festival also has unique features such as Song of Songs, where 15 local singers perform one of their favourite songs by a Jewish composer. This year’s line-up includes; Deborah Conway, Dave Faulkner, Steve Kilbey, Husky Gawenda, and Mahalia Barnes.
Additionally, the festival is offering musical workshops from the performers on the day, panel discussions, lectures and a film connected to Jewish music.
The Shir Madness Jewish Music Festival is on this Sunday from Midday to 10pm at Bondi Beach. More information is available at the organisers’ website.
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