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Levi and Dardashti wow the audience at 5th Sephardic Fest

Forwarded to me by a friend:

The 5th Annual Sephardic Music Festival, sponsored by NYC's 92nd Street Y Tribeca location, got off to a roaring start with a performance by Galeet Dardashti's group, "The Naming". Dardashti mixes English, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian in original musical compositions and songs about women. Her subjects range from the matriarchs to her Teheranian great-aunt Tova who was childless and therefore put on tefillin every morning since she felt she had no excuse for slacking, given that women are generally excused from the compulsory execution of this mitzvah by dint of needing to take care of their children. 'The Naming' has good electronics which help visualize the biblical or midrashic texts from which Dardashti crafts her songs. The musicians are more than competent; they are clearly interested in using traditional Persian Jewish music in a respectful way when it gets fused into more western traditions. Themes include Sarah and Hagar, the Queen of Sheba's riddles and hairy legs, childbirth, and a beautiful song about the city of Shusan which is also a paean to Vashti (today's demonstrators in Teheran and Jewish women are all seen as Vashti's offspring).

Smadar Levi was uplifting ; her band had a lot of good energy and she genuinely knew how to work the crowd in a mix of English and Hebrew. The emphasis was on Moroccan music that was clearly suffused not only with Jewish and Moroccan themes but also with Sufiism. She had just come back from the music festival at Fez where she apparently did a command performance for the Moroccan king. Her mix of languages in original songs set usually in both Hebrew and Arabic worked well. Her band felt like an updated version of HaBreira HaTivit and people by the end of the set were clapping and dancing since she clearly invited audience participation.

—Esther Malka