Coming to a field near you

A host of Jewish acts are performing at festivals around the country in the next few weeks.

By Alex Kasriel, May 21, 2009

Regina Spektor
The Moscow-born, New-York-based piano-playing singer-songwriter is headlining at the Serpentine Sessions ( in Hyde Park on June 29, in front of an audience of 3,000 — relatively intimate for an outdoor summer festival. Her set — she has been compared to Tori Amos and Bjork — will include songs from her album Far released on June 22, the follow-up to well-received debut release Begin To Hope. She also plays at Scotland’s T In The Park (July 10-12,, pop-fest Latitude in Suffolk (July 16-19, and Oxegen in Ireland (July 10-12,

The sassy London soul singer, Zarif Davidson is making waves on the pop scene — she even supported Beyoncé on her UK tour. Zarif plays at the Wireless festival in London ’s Hyde Park on July 4 and 5, where hip-hop heavyweight Kanye West and house act Basement Jaxx also perform (

Oi Va Voi
The first klezmer band to take Balkan beats mainstream has lost a lot of its original members, but none of its dynamism. The line-up now includes the electrifying Bridgette Amofah as guest vocalist. You can catch them at The Lichfield Festival (July 11,, the hippy Larmar Tree Festival in Wiltshire (July 19, and Leicester’s Summer Sundae Festival (August 14,

Los Desterrados
The band that adds a contemporary twist to the traditional music of the Jews of Spain, Portugal and Turkey has been enjoying a lot of air time on BBC radio of late, not least since they were nominated for best group in the recent Songlines magazine awards. The chirpy sextet plays at world music-athon Womad in Wiltshire (July 24-26, and in the Spiegel Tent at the Queen’s Festival in Belfast later in the year (October 18,

The Apples
Also playing at Womad are Israeli dance-floor fillers The Apples, a nine-piece electro-funk outfit who enjoy scratching, mixing and sampling liberally from all sorts of sources to create their funked-up jazz.

The human beatboxer extraordinaire is another Jewish act welcome at the global music event, Womad. He and his orchestra defy expectations on what can be done using just the human voice — there is barely a musical instrument in sight. Shlomo, who is currently artist-in-residence at London’s Southbank Centre, is also appearing at Latitude.

DJ Yoda
Likeable hip-hopper DJ Yoda will not find much time for a summer holiday this year. The hyperactive record-spinner (real name Duncan Beiny) risks repetitive strain injury with appearances at Bestival, Jersey Live, Global Gathering, RockNess, Guilfest, Camp Bestival, the little known Jamstand and the granddaddy of all festivals, Glastonbury. Full details on

Adam Bloom
Comedian Adam Bloom entertains indie/rock/folk fans with his angsty observations as they take a break from the music at the new Sellindge Music Festival in Kent (June 5-7,

Gideon Conn
The bespectacled, Manchester-based rapper was a finalist at the prestigious Red Stripe Music Awards this month. Catch him at Blissfields Festival, Hampshire (July 3-July 5,; Bramfest, Hertfordshire (June 20,; and alternative favourite, Bestival on the Isle of Wight (September 11-18,

Simon Brodkin
Out of the hundreds of acts at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, visitors should seek out comedian Simon Brodkin, whose chav character Lee “Nelsy” Nelson was a big hit in 2008. This time round, he is introducing his brand-new persona, a Premiership footballer called Jason Bent. No shortage of material there, then (

Haimishe alternatives to Glastonbury

Leeds International Performing Arts Festival
June 21 to 25,, 0113 268 0899
An annual showcase of talent from the world of theatre and music. Highlights this year include actor-writer Josh Epstein and his speed-dating drama, 7 Girls 7 Boys 7 Minutes, Barbra Streisand impersonator Steven Brinberg and Rena Strober’s autobiographical musical comedy Spaghetti and Matzo Balls, about a Jewish New Yorker who discovers she has Italian roots, making her a real Jewtalian.

August 9-14,, 020 8909 2445
The celebration of music from the shtetl culminates in a concert at London’s Jazz Café starring Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Frank London. Emma Johnson, acclaimed British clarinetist and a BBC Young Musician of the Year, is also on the bill.

August 27 to 31,, 020 8458 7965
This unique Jewish event — it’s under canvas in rural Derbyshire — hosts kosher talent, including Israeli outfit Funk’n’stein The Band, whose love of funk is second only to their love of Jew-fros, and American performance poet Vanessa Hidary with her raps about cultural identity.

White Nights
June 27,, 020 7431 9866
The Jewish Community Centre is transforming north London’s West End Lane, with bars, shops, cafés and restaurants hosting performances from talents like feminist rocker Anat Ben-David and trumpeter Lemez Lovas. Check out the Israeli-style night market.

Last updated: 2:00pm, May 21 2009