Leverett Brings Bluegrass/Klezmer Fusion to KlezmerFest

Break out your dancin’ shoes. Let the toe-stomping begin for more than a little Hava Nagila!

Temple Shalom will present KlezmerFest 2011 at the Iroquois Amphitheater on Sunday, May 15, at 1 p.m. Louisville’s second KlezmerFest will feature new headliner Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys from New York City playing a fusion of Klezmer and its Kentucky cousin, Bluegrass music.


The official warm up for this musical melting pot will be the biggest Jewish tailgating party in town at the Iroquois Amphitheater parking lot starting at 11 a.m. Everyone is invited to bring their favorite nosh to share while celebrating two of the world’s great genres of music.

“We are thrilled and honored to be returning to Kentucky, the birthplace of Bluegrass, and Louisville in particular,” says Leverett, known as the founding mother of klezmer’s new wave, who recalls a warm welcome at a previous engagement in Louisville several years ago. The band will feature material from its new CD, “Second Avenue Square Dance,” where the group also takes on rock, jazz and American and Latin folk music.

Leverett and her band are reportedly wowing music critics around the nation. The Washington Post explained the group’s unique merger of Appalachia and Eastern Europe: “The mosaic is there all at once – the swooping, supple notes of the clarinet, the wailing violin, the loping guitar that quickens the pace, joined by the bright, lift-you-out-of-your-seat fiddling.”

The Boston Herald lavished the group with equal praise. “American Jews have been making great bluegrass music for more than 40 years, and fiddler Kenny Kosek and guitarist Barry Mitterhoff are among the genre’s leading lights.

In addition to Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys and back by popular demand will be the Java Jews of Des Moines, IA, The Cincinnati Klezmer Project and Louisville’s own klezmer groups, The Lost Tribe and the River City Klezmer Band. Stay tuned for more on these bands in the coming issues of Community.

The lineup will be augmented with performances by Louisville Cantors David Lipp of Congregation Adath Jeshurun and Sharon Hordes of Congregation Keneseth Israel as well as Rabbi Gaylia Rooks of The Temple (Adath Israel Brith Sholom).

KlezmerFest is the creation of Temple Shalom member Kathy Karr, the critically acclaimed principal flutist with the Louisville Orchestra. Karr first brought the Java Jews to Louisville to perform at Temple Shalom’s annual dinner in 2009.

“The Java Jews were a big hit. With her stroke of musical genius, Kathy Karr invited them back, added The Lost Tribe, River City Klezmer Band and the Cincinnati Klezmer Project and KlezmerFest 2010 was born,” says Temple Shalom’s Rabbi Stanley Miles. “We knew the concept had potential but never imagined such a wild success and the buzz that followed, making KlezmerFest one of our city’s signature cultural events.”

With nearly 500 people in the audience of the Temple Shalom auditorium, this year’s KlezmerFest committee decided they would need a bigger venue for a KlezmerFest 2011.

“That’s why we chose the iconic Iroquois Amphitheater,” says KlezmerFest 2011 Chairman Bruce Holzman. “With 2400 seats and half of those undercover, a great time will be had by all, rain or shine,” adds Holzman.

Tickets are $15 for adults in advance, $18 at the door, $10 for students, and free for children 12 and under. Advance tickets are available at www.klezmerfest.org.

Underwriters of KlezmerFest 2011 include: The Adolf & Sara van der Walde and Israel Rosenbloum Charitable Fund and Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services. Gold corporate sponsors are Jewish Community of Louisville (JCL), Gould’s Discount Medical and Hank Davis Jewelers. Benefactors include Republic Bank, Alan Hyman Enterprises, Women of Temple Shalom, Temple Shalom Men’s Club and the Temple Shalom Endowment Fund.

Also visit: www.klezmerfest.org, Louisville KlezmerFest on Facebook, or @klezmerfest on Twitter.

[by Helene Kramer]

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