Amazing band lineup featuring:
Will Robertson- guitar, vocals, songwriting
Caroline Goldberg- vocals
Melvin Myles- vocals
Joe Alterman- piano
DJ Burel- drums
Robby Handley- bass
Julia Filson- fiddle
Micah Lapidus- guitar, songwriting
Liner notes for songs:
Intention– this is a Shabbat celebration through music. It is a spiritual concert. This music isn’t meant to be performed, it’s meant to be shared. The dichotomy between the band and the audience is a false one that only diminishes the shared experience that we want to co-create. Without listening there is no music. Since this music is new to most, if not all, and some of it is in Hebrew, I’ll provide some orientation and framing of each song. The goal isn’t to fill the space with words, but to provide enough of a frame of reference so that all of us can enjoy and participate in the music together. Though these are original compositions that I’ve created with the help of many talented and generous friends, they don’t belong to me. Their meanings don’t belong to me. If you choose to share in this music, they belong as much to you as they do to me.
Isaiah’s Nigun- A melody inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah who envisioned the redemption of humanity and nature with the words, “then shall your light burst forth like dawn,” (Isaiah 58) and, “your deserts shall become eden,” (Isaiah 53). We start our concert with a nigun, a wordless melody, as a way of helping shift our energy and focus. By removing words and allowing the melody and music to speak for itself, we lower the barrier toward meaningful encounter between music and performer, music and listener. Those that wish can meditate on the inspiration behind the Nigun in the form of Isaiah’s hopeful vision, others can simply take a moment to set our thinking minds aside and begin to bind ourselves to the music.
Shfoch Ruchacha- This song is an invocation. Though it may feel awkward in concept, we are invoking the reality of God’s presence and asking God to pour God’s spirit upon us. What does that mean? We are asking God to remind us of the spark of the divine that exists within and all around us, the holiness that permeates all creation from the human heart to the mosquito to the speck of dust. This song serves to remind us that in addition to being here to enjoy some music on a lovely, if hot, summer evening, we are also here to connect, to feel the spirit, to allow for the possibility of angels whispering into our ears.
Violence in the Silence- Inspired by a popular protest slogan during the 2020 summer protests for racial justice, this song is an attempt to speak truth to power. In the spirit of the Hebrew prophets, it is a message of both harsh critique, but also a call to action. Just as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah were committed to calling out the injustices and hypocrisies of their day, we must be willing to do the same. So long as systems of power perpetuate structural injustice, we will continue to need to do what the prophets of old did in their day, “raise our voice and sound the alarm, join together arm in arm.” This song was co-written with Will Robertson and Melvin Myles. I’m honored that Melvin is here to sing it for us.
The Well- Genesis chapter 28 teaches us that Isaac, son of Abraham, upon returning to the land of Israel, dug anew the wells that his father had dug before him. On the one hand, this is plain old common sense on Isaac’s part. Just as Abraham’s wells had brought forth life nourishing water when Isaac was a child, so too could he assume they would do the same in his adulthood. I’ve long been captivated by the image of Isaac digging anew the wells that were dug by the generations that came before. It seems to me a beautiful way of describing the sacred thread that interweaves the generations. This song, entitled The Well, is a meditation on what it means to to return to the wells of water and of spirit that nourished and sustained the generations that came before us, allowing them to nourish us as well, and connecting us to them.
Love is Love– Another song inspired by a popular slogan, Love is Love offers a slightly different take on the universal and most important message of all faith traditions: love. In this call and response song (please join in), we explore the possibility that our understanding and expression of love can be deepened and even transformed by meditating on the nature of God’s love. The song begins with the idea that “We know love from God above.” It goes on to ask what I consider to be a question of both great importance and also possibility, “Can we show love like God above?” In other words, as recipients of love, from God, from the universe, from our fellow human being, can we become vehicles for expressing love and magnifying the presence of love in the world. It’s also just a fun song to play.
Gentle Like a Reed– When folks listen to the song, Gentle Like a Reed, their minds generally associate the message of this song with the famous passage from Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season.” Truth be told, the origin of this song has nothing to do with those famous words. Instead the opening lines, Gentle Like a Reed/ Strong as a Cedar, come from a rabbinic parable. In that parable, a rabbi is so convinced that he is right about something that he forgets that there are more important things in life than being right. The voice of the narrator comes to chastise him with the words, “Better to be gentle like a reed, than strong as a cedar.” There are times to stand firm, to uphold our ideas, to be strong as a cedar, but more often than not a gentle approach to life will yield greater happiness and wellbeing. Though this song isn’t based on Ecclesiastes, the theme of different seasons is very present in the lyrics. When I think of Ecclesiastes and Gentle Like a Reed, I am inspired by a poem of Yehuda Amichai. In his version of Ecclesiastes, he suggests that we are often laughing and crying at the same moment, waging war and making peace, planting and reaping, loving and hating. I think there’s wisdom in his realization that the human heart doesn’t always line up so cleanly.