Beneath the Open Sky tour travels to Tidewater

by | Feb 2, 2018 | What’s Happening

March 9–11, Ohef Sholom Temple

Back by popular demand, Mama Doni and her four-person bluegrass band, Nefesh Mountain, return to Tidewater for multiple concerts and a musical Kabbalat Shabbat over three days.

In fall 2016, under her “Mama Doni” billing, Doni Zasloff performed several playful, upbeat children’s concerts at the Simon Family JCC, Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, and Ohef Sholom Temple with her banjo-playing husband Eric Lindberg. Now, Zasloff and Lindberg have added to their repertoire some serious and critically acclaimed mountain music that gives unique melody to Hebrew and English verses of the bible and Jewish liturgy. This year, fresh off concerts in Israel and the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial convention in Boston, Nefesh Mountain will release its critically acclaimed spiritual album, Beneath the Open Sky, on March 2. Tidewater audiences can be among the first to hear it at several concerts open to the public with no charge.

Open Sky includes original songs such as Bound for the Promised Land, I Want to Hear Somebody Pray, L’Dor VaDor—On and On, and The Narrow Bridge.

Zasloff considers bluegrass music an ideal vehicle for Jewish prayer. “It’s the ultimate celebration, because you have to get up and dance. It also has lonesome, mountain-y sound [which reflects] the pain we all feel— especially as Jews,” she says. Mountain culture is not unique to western Virginia and American Appalachia. Jewish faith teaches that Torah came from the Sinai Mountain. Moreover, Israel is a land of mountains. The City of David, Jerusalem, rests atop Mt. Zion.

Using original material, along with four tracks drawing from the folk and old time traditions, Lindberg and Zasloff ingeniously create a beautiful arc throughout Beneath the Open Sky, which defines their own genre and world as they see it.

“We want to have a chance to share our story with everybody,“ Zasloff adds. “There is this word ‘Americana’ that we all know well…bridging the gaps somewhere between Old-Time, Bluegrass, Folk, Blues, and Jazz— which all have deep roots in this country.”

Nefesh Mountain adds Jewish faith and prayer to the Americana mix, and area residents will have the opportunity to stomp their feet to the live beat next month.

– Chris Kraus, Ohef Sholom Temple director of family learning