Life & Culture

Your festival guide


With the proliferation of arts extravaganzas and open-air concerts, there’s almost too much quality entertainment around this summer. Here’s our pick of what not to miss

Mor Karbasi
London-based Israeli singer Mor Karbasi released her debut album in March this year to critical acclaim, and has since been booked to appear at the Womad festival, the Larmer Tree Festival, in Wiltshire, the Glasson Festival, which features world folk and acoustic artists, and Rhythms of the World Festival. The 21-year-old sings largely in Ladino, the ancient language of Sephardi Jews, as well as in Spanish, Hebrew and occasionally English, and plays alongside band members Joe Taylor on guitar and Andres Ticino on percussion.

Human beatbox talent Shlomo and his vocal orchestra will be hosting Glastonbury’s Park stage this Saturday evening, serving as the backing band for a series of guest-star collaborations. The vocal gymnast is of Israeli, Iraqi and German descent and has an ability to wow people with what he can do with just a pair of lungs, a tongue, some lips and a voice box. If you miss him at Glastonbury, then you can catch at the Rise Festival in London, or performing with DJ Yoda on Bestival’s main stage on the Isle of Wight.

DJ Yoda
Described by the JC as “the coolest Jew in London”, Duncan Beiny, aka DJ Yoda, can be seen at Wild in the Country Festival, in Hertfordshire. He will also be performing with Shlomo at Bestival. The 31-year-old hip hop “turntablist”, who uses mixing, scratching and sampling and also combines sounds with imagery, was nominated as one of Q magazine’s “10 DJs to see before you die”. 

Joan Rivers
The first lady of alternative comedy — and plastic surgery — is coming to the UK this summer and will showcase her new play at the Edinburgh Fringe. The acid-tongued comedienne is marking her 75th birthday by performing her self-penned autobiographical play, Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress, for a run of 19 performances at the Underbelly’s Cow Barn. Rivers has never hidden her love for plastic surgery and her gift for not caring what people think of her. Her classic line? “I’m Jewish. I don’t work out. If God had wanted us to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor.” 

Los Desterrados
The most exotic group of Jews you will see this side of the Channel have taken the world-music scene by storm over the last few years and plan to release their new album, Miradores, at the end of July. Hear their brand of Sephardi fusion at the Rise Festival, at the More London Free Festival, both in July, and at Limmudfest on August 22.

Marc Salem
Mind-reading genius Marc Salem is headlining the Leeds International Performing Arts Festival this month. The New Yorker specialises in guessing what his audiences are thinking. He is also impressively talented at speed sudoku.

Marisa Carnesky
The lady with probably more tattoos than any other British Jew is taking her cabaret act, Marisa Carnesky And Her Magic War Show, to Suffolk’s Latitude Festival. “It’s a cross between theatre and comedy. It looks at violence and war, but it’s also a magic show in the style of vaudevillian entertainment,” she says.

Balkan Beat box
Israeli duo Ori Kaplan, a former klezmer clarinetist, and  Tamir Muskat, a former punk band drummer, set up Balkan Beat Box after meeting in New York. This year they are playing at the jazz-world stage at Glastonbury this weekend. The pair always play with a range of other artists depending on where in the world they are — many of them also Jewish or Israeli.

They describe their band as “extreme instrumentalism” concerned with “erasing political borders on the dancefloor”. The music is a fusion of Jewish klezmer, Mediterranean and Balkan music mixed with hip-hop and dance beats.

The Arab, The Jew And The Chicken
The new international theatrical group Conflict Relief will be taking their debut show to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Established in 2006 by three actors — a Palestinian, an Israeli and a Lebanese — Conflict Relief aims to unite artists of Jewish, Muslim and Middle Eastern origin to explore the region’s conflicts through comedy. This short satirical sketch show was hailed as a success by audience and critics after its short run in the Courtyard Theatre in East London last March. The 15 sketches use mime, clowning, singing and a chicken to convey the problems that divide the people of the region.
Adam Bloom
The veteran multi-award-winning comedian from North London will be taking the mic at this year’s Latitude Festival in Southwold. He is best known for his inventive and often improvised routines. Summarising his act, he says: “I tell stories about my own life with some social comment and some observations about human behaviour.” Last year Bloom was famously locked in a pitch-black nuclear bunker as an experiment on sensory deprivation for BBC2’s Horizon: Total Isolation programme. After that, performing in darkest Suffolk should really be a piece of cake.#


Where And When

Glastonbury, Worthy Farm, Somerset, June 27-29.

More London Free Festival, the South Bank, London SE1, July 2-25.

Glasson Festival, Glasson, Lancashire. July 4-6.

Wild in the Country Festival, Knebworth, Hertfordshire. July 5.

Rhythms of the World Festival, Hitchin Priory, Hertfordshire, July 12- 13.

The Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury, Wiltshire, July 16-20.

Latitude Festival, Southwold, Suffolk. July 17-20.

Rise Festival, Finsbury Park London N4. July 13.

Womad festival, Charlton Park, Wiltshire. July 25-27.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 3-25.

V Festival, Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex and Weston Park, Staffordshire. August 16 and 17.

Bestival, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight. September 5-7.

Look out for…

  • Once again the Glastonbury Festival will be home to a Jewish tent, the venue for an informal Shabbat programme including a Friday-night get-together. There will also be Jewish music, art and film, and events promoting social action. You will find it next to the Hari Krishna tent near the Glade Stage.
  • The London Master Classes are full of A-list Jewish classical performers. The likes of pianist Norma Fisher, cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and conductor Benjamin Zander will be working with talented young musicians who will then put what they have learned into practice in evening concerts. The festival runs from June 29 to July 6 at the Royal Academy of Music, London NW1.
  • The Leeds International Jewish Performing Arts Festival celebrates its eighth year with a programme of Jewish music, theatre and comedy from around the world. It’s at the Carriageworks, Millennium Square from July 13-17.
  • Klezfest in Hyde Park on August 17 is organised by the Jewish Music Institute and includes some of the best klezmer bands from the UK and Europe. What’s more, it’s free. Other KlezFest events will take place throughout London from August 12- 17.
  • This year’s Limmudfest, takes place in the Peak District over the August bank holiday and features Los Desterrados, Israeli funk band The Apples as well as the usual summer-camp fun.

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