A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

For Hanukkah, Something Completely Different: a Jewish Bluegrass Band

For Hanukkah, here's something you don't see every day: a Jewish bluegrass group. Nefesh Mountain was founded by an American couple, Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg, joined by other bluegrass musicians. The band's website is here.

My own only previous bluegrass post on this blog was back when Doc Watson died in 2012, and I needed to reach wildly for that gospel music often mentions the River Jordan), but this time I'm posting Hanukkah songs during Hanukkah.

It;s impressive how smoothly Jewish folk melodies merge with bluegrass.

Here's a good introduction, Esa Einai, based on Psalm 121 (I will lift my eyes unto the mountains):

While living in Coney Island with a Jewish Mother-in-Law, Woody Guthrie wrote a couple of Hanukkah songs. Here,"Hanukkah's Flame," and "Hanukkah Dance," both by Woody Guthrie:

Finally an "Old Time Medley," the first song of which, "Down to the River to Pray," is an old standard of gospel bluegrass, with lyrics adjusted to provide Old Testament references.

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