Just learned that the great alt-Jewish band The Sway Machinery recently played at “Le Festival au Désert” – an amazing international music festival held annually in the Sahara desert near Timbuktu, Mali. Apparently, SM played before a largely Muslim audience and performed with several local African musicians as well.
Koudede was followed by Sway Machinery’s own set. They were strong and energetic. They brought the audience into their groove within seconds. While (band leader Jeremiah) Lockwood sang singing in Hebrew, the Muslim crowd respected the music and showed its appreciation by dancing along. Haira Arby joined the group for their final song and showed once again her mastery of music. She was immediately in the groove and brought her own authenticity to the number.
The Sway Machinery website reports:
In an unprecedented act of intercultural exchange, underground rock cult favorites and iconoclastic champions of historic Jewish music traditions, The Sway Machinery, have been invited to perform at The Festival of the Desert in Esekane, Mali, in the depths of the Sahara Desert this January. The Sway Machinery will bring its unique vision of Jewish Spiritual Music traditions to the heart of Islamic Africa, performing for an audience of thousands!
While in Mali, The Sway Machinery will record a new album, featuring collaborations with stars of the Malian music world. A documentary film about this journey is also in the making!
“The Sway Machinery Pilgrimage, as they have entitled their Africa project, is a beautiful example for the world of the great role artists can play in building bridges of love and understanding between cultures. This project is of clear importance in establishing new and positive images of Jews and Muslims engaging with each other” (Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman, Cordoba Initiative).
I wish I could find a clip from the set at the Festival. In the meantime, click above and check out their recent performance at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival. (First one to recognize the Jewish liturgical lyrics gets the door prize…)