Amherst – Some of the top performers of klezmer and Yiddish music – and thousands of their fans – converged on the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst last month for Yidstock: The Festival of New Yiddish Music.
Now in its fourth year, Yidstock brought together a diverse range of musicians, underscoring the dynamic, ever-evolving nature of klezmer music.
The four-day festival kicked off with a sold-out performance by the Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics, leaders in the revival of interest in klezmer in the 1980s. Later that weekend, Socalled (aka Josh Dolgin), the Montreal-based pianist/ producer/composer/rapper, brought his innovative sound to the stage.
The festival also included beautiful performances by the Yiddish Art Trio and by Sklamberg & the Shepherds, made up of the Klezmatics’ Lorin Sklamberg, master clarinetist Merlin Shepherd vocalist/pianist Polina Shepherd. Klezperanto, led by clarinetist Ilene Stahl, gave a fun, funky performance that included klezmer-influenced takes on old TV cop-show theme songs.
The festival also afforded the musicians the opportunity to connect and play with other klezmer musicians from around the world, resulting in exciting collaborations that culminated in a festival-ending performance by the Yiddish All-Stars – a one-time-only show, led by the Klezmatics’ Frank London, that had the audience dancing in the aisles.
Yidstock also included a full schedule of talks, panel discussions and workshops. The internationally renowned Yiddish dance instructor Steve Weintraub was on hand all weekend, teaching workshops and leading festivalgoers on the dance floor during the concerts.
The Yiddish Book Center is already planning the fifth annual Yidstock, to be held July 14-17, 2016.
CAP: Yidstock closed with several klezmer musicians collaborating as “The Yiddish All-Stars.”