For Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, New York based Nefesh Mountain is more than just a bluegrass band. It’s a celebration of the foundational roots of music and traditions from not only the heritage of the folks who settled the mountainous regions of the US but also of the rich Jewish culture they live in. It’s not a gimmick or a parody. It’s intentional, and it’s from the heart.
Lindberg says that while they call Nefesh Mountain a place, “it’s actually more of a metaphorical place in their hearts, and our ethos as a band,” he said. Nefesh is actually a Hebrew word that loosely translates to the soul, or the spirit of something. “That word mixed with mountain ends up being a place in our minds and our lives, and when we play our own music it feels like we go to that place.”
On paper, bluegrass music and ethnic Jewish music may seem like an odd combination, but the bottom line is, as Eric puts it, “is that we’re Americans. We both grew up in this country feeling very soulful about the music indigenousness to this country. Starting with the music from the civil war era and before, moving through the ages with the African influence, and that of the Scott/Irish traditions, and this whole melting pot thing that became Americana; I feel very drawn and spiritual just musically about that form. As an American, I feel very at home in that sound. Somewhere along the line Klezmer became the only music that was associated with Jewish people. but I don’t see it that way. I think when you get all the way down to the roots of music it’s really not that weird to be playing Jewish Bluegrass.”
Their new CD, Beneath The Open Sky, eloquently combines all of those traditions into one beautifully unique collection of songs. One quote says it all; “It is a soulful, euphoric, folk-flavored outpouring of hope and joy, propelled by the kind of crisp, crystalline picking that gives lyrics wings.”
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