Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Sway Machinery to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with special concert

On the heels of their successful New York City events in 2007 and 2008, JDub Records Presents America’s only indie rock/Jewish cantorial music group, The Sway Machinery (,, bringing one of the most unique celebrations of the Jewish new year “Hidden Melodies Revealed – a Secret Celebration of Rosh Hashanah” to Los Angeles for 2009. This multi-media concert event celebrates Rosh Hashanah in a presentation that is part ritual, part rock concert. The performance is scheduled for the night before Rosh Hashanah, on September 17.

“Hidden Melodies Revealed” will also include storytelling and compelling animated films. The event will take place at 9:00pm at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 3663 Wilshire Blvd, and admission is free. An Open Bar Reception including wines from Wente Vineyards, will be held in the courtyard of the temple prior to the concert at 8:00PM.

The Sway Machinery's unique musical vision re-contextualizes Ashkenazic Jewish spiritual music, the soulful vocal Cantorial style most often heard in American Jewish synagogues, into the broader spectrum of world music. The band finds inspiration for new versions of Cantorial classics in African popular music, Eastern European folk music and American blues.

Their ever rotating line-up features an incredible roster of musicians for the Los Angeles event; led by blues guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood of Balkan Beat Box, along with John Bollinger of Barbez on drums, noted tenor sax player Matt Bauder, Kelly Pratt of the Beirut and Arcade Fire horn sections (and his own acclaimed project Plan B) on trumpet, and touring member of The Arcade Fire and frequent Tom Waits collaborator Colin Stetson on bass saxophone. Other exciting musical guests are expected and will be announced as they are confirmed.

Hidden Melodies Revealed will also feature a screening of Guggenheim fellow Shawn Atkin's animated short film depicting the dawn of monotheism, The Akeidah.

Rabbi Steve Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple is pleased to welcome The Sway Machinery to this historic Temple campus noting, "Along with our ambitious renovation and expansion that symbolize the reversal of the Jewish exodus from the eastern part of Los Angeles, we are pleased to host events like Hidden Melodies Revealed to connect with and welcome the young, indie, Jewish and multicultural audiences from the hip eastside neighborhoods we are expanding to serve such as Hollywood, Hancock Park, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park."

The Sway Machinery's sound stems from Lockwood's rich musical relationships with his grandfather Cantor Jacob Konigsberg, and with his mentor, the renowned blues player Carolina Slim, who fondly guided Lockwood's musical development. Konigsberg, one of the last great exponents of Cantorial singing, led Lockwood into an understanding and love of the soulful and ancient heritage of Synagogue music. Lockwood's deeply personal relationship to these two musical traditions helped him to forge a unique musical language of his own, as he learned to move from singing in his grandfather's study to playing with Carolina Slim in New York City subway stations. The Sway Machinery was borne out of this dichotomy.

Though The Sway Machinery carefully cultivates Lockwood's deeply felt relationship to his musical roots, his accomplished colleagues bring to the table the sounds of afro-beat horns, unassailable rock beats and an astutely contemporary musical sensibility. Lockwood layers the haunting notes of his Cantorial-influenced vocals over the energetic, celebratory rhythms of afro-pop, hard-hitting drums and the blues.

“Hidden Melodies Revealed” showcases pieces based on mystical texts taken directly from the Jewish High Holiday prayers and reconfigures them in a startlingly new musical landscape. Lockwood's ambitious melding of styles results in what The Village Voice has called a most “joyful synthesis.” or

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