Jewish Influence in Country Music Takes Center Stage at The Weitzman

-Courtesy of Broad Street Communications
Feature photo Nefesh Mountain (March 8th)

Philadelphia’s Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History (The Weitzman) sets its sights on the South in a four-part music series held on Tuesday nights in February and March. Country music takes center stage in virtual events that highlight contemporary and historic Jewish musicians, “Rodeo Tailors,” and other more experts to audiences everywhere. The performances are virtual on Zoom. The public is welcome to tune in online for free, with a $10 suggested donation. Visit https://www.nmajh.org/countrymusic/ to learn more.

Suiting the Sound – Jewish Rodeo Tailors of Country Music
Tuesday, February 15
8 p.m. ET
In partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
Ablaze with vibrant colors and sparkling with rhinestones, country music stars have been lighting up stages and turning heads in spectacular, custom-designed Western wear since the late 1940s. Who created the iconic clothing? “Rodeo Tailors,” the most prominent of whom were Jewish. In this program, we’ll explore the lives and work of three Eastern European immigrants who became the most influential of the pioneering rodeo tailors: Nudie Cohn (the colorful man behind the “Nudie suit” and notably, Elvis’ iconic gold lamé suit), Nathan Turk (who often dressed Gene Autry and Roy Rogers), and Bernard “Rodeo Ben” Lichtenstein (whose flagship store was located at 6240 N. Broad Street right in Philadelphia!).

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum launched an online exhibition about these classic clothes, Suiting the Sound: The Rodeo Tailors Who Made Country Stars Shine Brighter. The Museum’s curatorial director Mick Buck and The Weitzman’s curator, Josh Perelman, lead this program from their respective exhibit halls. Exciting addition: Ray Benson, a Jewish nine-time Grammy winner, Philadelphia native, and frontman of the western swing group Asleep at the Wheel, will provide tunes and insights.

Mark Rubin: “Jew of Oklahoma”
Tuesday, February 22
8 p.m. ET
Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and New Orleans residing multi-instrumentalist Mark Rubin is an unabashed Southern Jew, known equally for his muscular musicianship and larger-than-life persona. In this interactive program, Rubin will share music from and insights into his new album “The Triumph of Assimilation.” Rubin straddles numerous musical genres, including Country, Western Swing, Bluegrass, Tex-Mex, Polka, Klezmer, and Roma.

Torah of Country Music
Tuesday, March 1
8 p.m. ET
Jewish Americana musician and Texas native Joe Buchanan has spent the last nine years finding his voice in the history, Torah, and values of the Jewish people. Over the last decade Buchanan’s journey into Judaism has sent him touring across the United States, leading an original Shabbat service, playing concerts and facilitating a workshop called “Choosing to be Chosen” which is about his conversion to Judaism and “the reasons why so many are coming home”. In this online program, Rabbi Sandra Lawson will chat with Buchanan about their shared love for Judaism and Country music. Rabbi Sandra will ask Buchanan about his music, his work as a spiritual leader, the challenges he’s faced along the way, and much more. The program will also feature several musical demonstrations and live performances from Joe Buchanan. Lawson is a Rabbi, activist, and the Inaugural Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion with Reconstructing Judaism — she last participated in The Weitzman’s Torah of Blues program with Jerron Blindboy Paxton.

Nefesh Mountain
Tuesday, March 8
8 p.m. ET
Fresh off of their debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Nefesh Mountain’s co-band leaders, Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg, will perform live from their studio in North Jersey. A boundary pushing Bluegrass/Americana band, Nefesh Mountain is the only group on the scene who openly represent Jewish American culture, tradition, values and spirituality. Zasloff and Lindberg will fill the evening with beautiful music rooted at the crossroads of Jewish spirituality and the roots of American roots. The duo will also talk about what it’s like being Jewish on the American Roots music scene today.

ABOUT THE WEITZMAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY
Established in 1976, and situated on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History is the only museum in the nation dedicated exclusively to exploring and interpreting the American Jewish experience. The Weitzman NMAJH presents educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore, and celebrate the history of Jews in America. Its purpose is to connect Jews more closely to their heritage and to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire. https://nmajh.org

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