16 April 2018

A precedent

Five weeks ago Beneath the open sky, the new album from Nefesh Mountain, was released in the US. Nefesh Mountain comprises the married couple Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, and their blend of bluegrass and old-time music with Jewish heritage and tradition has naturally attracted attention, as well as critical acclaim. A reviewer in No Depression is quoted: 'What seems initially to be a curious novelty combining bluegrass and traditional Jewish music, turns out to be an idea that makes absolute sense.'

There is a precedent - over fifty years old, but it carries some weight. Gene Lowinger, from a New York Jewish background, played fiddle for Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys in 1965-6. His memoir I hear a voice calling mentions a time when Bill Monroe accompanied him to a synagogue service. At the end Monroe shook hands with the rabbi, thanked him for the songs, and said 'I'm gonna find a way to use some of those notes in my music.' The result was 'Lonesome moonlight waltz'.

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