There were artists, besides Matisyahu, who shined at Jewlicious, like Rav Shmuel, Moshav, Electro Morocco, Kosha Dillz and Rinat Guttman.
Shmuel, “a rabbi who hangs out in Greenwich Village,” according to ravshmuel.com, played a heartfelt acoustic set. With peyos and wearing traditional Orthodox garb, the wise, musical-veteran, joined by guitarist Duvid Swirsky from Moshav, played quirky folk ditties about his relationship to God and Judaism, including “Protocols of the Elders of Zion are True,” a crowd favorite.
“Some people ask me if I’m Jewish,” sang Shmuel, whose vocals were barely melodic, but earnest.
“Are you Jewish?” responded a beamingly enthusiastic audience member, on cue.
Like his very own “VH1 Storytellers,” between songs, Shmuel told funny and accessible tales of past travels and performances. It’s difficult to find comparable unpretentiousness behind a guitar nowadays.
I went up to Shmuel after his performance and asked for an interview. Kindly he agreed, even offering to go outside with me, as Basya Schechter, of world-music band Pharoah’s Daughter, was busy putting the audience in a trance with her crunchy, new-age oud playing. (Just like you, I didn’t know what an oud was. I had to look it up at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/oud. FYI, if you’re the type of person who is considering a water birth, you’ll probably love Schechter’s music.)
I asked Shmuel why nobody gets on stage at Jewlicious and preaches: “Move to Israel,” “Marry Jewish, “Or go to temple more often.”
“I think that the religion speaks for itself,” Shmuel said. “I don’t think we need to sell it.”
Last October I did a story about Shabbat Tent, which holds Shabbat services at Phish and other music festivals. Shmuel co-founded it. He used to follow Phish around. He is known as the “Phish rabbi” in some circles. I told Shmuel that Jewlicious should invite Mike Gordon, the Jewish bassist from Phish, to Jewlicious next year.
He thought it was a great idea. So let’s keep our fingers crossed.
The day before, on Saturday night, Moshav opened their set with “Too Late.” The tune features English and Hebrew lyrics and is white reggae at its finest (recalling the now disbanded Dispatch and the recently grouped, sans Bradley Nowell, Sublime). Another highlight was their infectious “Come Back,” thanks to an innovative guitar lick. The audience happily clapped along, embracing the Israeli quintet and their laid-back beach band persona.
Electro Morocco and Kosha Dillz opened for Moshav. Electro Morocco, hailing from Williamsburg, Brooklyn – Where they are the only musicians, joked comedian Joel Chasnoff, before bringing the band onstage—played an energetic set that fused surf rock and Middle Eastern sonics. Before Morocco, the unannounced appearance of Matisyahu bolstered New York’s Kosha Dillz’ freestyle heavy hip-hop set. Rinat Guttman, the first female Israeli Orthodox rapper, also joined Dillz onstage for an electrifying verse.
Read full coverage from Jewlicious here.