Ancient Jewish Traditions Blended With the Sound of Appalachian Americana
Debut album out May 20, 2016
Nefesh Mountain is the place where Jewish spirit and soul meet with Bluegrass and Old-Time musical traditions. Founders, husband and wife team Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, are pioneering their love for both of these rich traditions, and have created a debut album that marries these seemingly disparate worlds.
Bluegrass Todaycalled this unique cross-pollination a “highly-effective blend of these two spheres…only rarely have we heard a prominent Jewish counterpoint to the gospel music that has been a part of Bluegrass since Bill Monroe’s earliest recordings.”
“There is common ground here,” says Lindberg. “For centuries Bluegrass and Old-Time music have been embracing the Old Testament, and through the years have created a powerful vehicle for spirituality and expression.” The origin of Bluegrass music itselfbegan as a melting pot, fusing African instruments and sensibilities, with that of Western Europe and the Scotch/Irish traditions.
Zasloff adds, “Today, Bluegrass music is an outlet for so many cultures and their own traditions to come through. I can fall in love and connect with Chinese, African American, or Irish cultures though the music. Likewise, as Jewish Americans, we want to share our background with the world through the art of Bluegrass.”
“Nefesh” is a Hebrew word which loosely translates as the soul or animating spirit of all living things. The Mountain is a cross-cultural symbol used widely in Jewish text as well as in Bluegrass and Old-Time musical forms. “We’ve found that another commonality is that both traditions unapologetically celebrate and honor our natural world” says Zasloff.
Nefesh Mountain recorded the album at the beautiful and legendary Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville, TN, supported by top bluegrass artists -Sam Bush on Mandolin, Mark Schatz on Bass,Scott Vestal on Banjo,Rob Ickes on Dobro, and Gary Oleyar on Fiddle. Lindberg is the Guitarist in the lineup, and also plays Banjo and Dobro on the album.
On the making of the record, Lindberg says, “It was a privilege and honor to include these bluegrass greats and our own personal heroes in this project which is so dear to our hearts.”
“The studio was magical,” saysZasloff. “Playing these Jewish songs and bringing forth their universal themes in collaboration with these outstanding musicians of different backgrounds, was true evidence that Bluegrass music can be a great equalizer in our lives.”
Full Album - For Media Only
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"Esa Einai" Nefesh Mountain Official Music Video featuring Bluegrass Greats;Sam Bush, Mark Schatz, Rob Ickes, Scott Vestal, Gary Oleyar
SONGS AND HIGHLIGHTS
- “I lift my eyes to the mountains, wheredoes my help come from?” Our inspiration behind this song was first towrite what a very mountainous sounding American melody andbanjo part to be combined with the spiritual Hebrew and English words.Mark’s grounded yet atmospheric bass parts, Sam’s thick and openmandolin strums, and Rob’s blazing Dobro fill’s really gave the song amusical and spiritual depth that we wanted to express.”
is an original composition, drawing from the sound andcadence of many Bluegrass songs in the canon, yet drawing also fromNewgrass and more modern forms in terms of its harmony and overall songstructure. Inspired by the Old Testament and the imagery of the river as atimeless force of nature, we wanted this song to reflect both the tranquiland restless versions of the river in the past and in our lives today. Sam Bush was gracious enough to lend his amazing vocals to our song, giving atimeless depth with his gruff and iconic singing.”
is a timeless Jewish prayer of freedom and is the onlytrack on the album that is entirely in Hebrew. Its inspiration comes from itstimeless quality in the Jewish world and its message of giving thanks forbeing free in this world. We wanted to have a song on the album that wasunapologetically fast, spirited, and sh*t kickin' - which would serve as a wayto give new meaning to the prayer, and also be a format for us all to reallydig in and take some solos in the studio. Doni has a chance to open up withthe repeated Nigun (vocal phrase) in the middle, Eric shows his virtuosityon guitar, Gary soars with his fiddle, and Sam and Scott were as usual onfire during the tracking of this song. We purposefully paired them togetherfor this recording because they play together year round in the Sam Bush band and their synergy together is unmatched.
Doni Zasloff, Eric Lindberg
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