The annual bluegrass concert has returned!
Kol Kahol and The Bluegrass Characters Revue will present “A Tribute to Phil Zimmerman and Stacy Phillips” at BEKI on Thursday, Dec. 23.
The annual concert was originally organized by Stacy Phillips, a Grammy Award winning musician, known for both his musicianship and his heimisha stage banter. When Stacy passed away in June 2018, his band, which had been called Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters, continued the December tradition, led by Stacy’s longtime friend, collaborator, and bandmate Phil Zimmerman.
Phil, who was a multi-instrumentalist and a leader of musical instruction camps, passed away in the April 2021. This year’s performance by the remaining Characters will be a tribute to both Stacy and Phil.
The other group performing is Kol Kahol, formed in 2019, drawing inspiration from bluegrass icons as well as what they call original “Jewgrass” musicians from the 70’s and 80’s, including Stacy Phillips. Kol Kahol’s music is also influenced by contemporary Jewish bands such as the Klezmatics, the Moshav Band, and Nefesh Mountain.
One of the group members, violinist, bassist, and vocalist Sofia Chiarandini, was Stacy’s student. A classical as well as bluegrass violinist, she is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.
Other members of Kol Kahol are mandolinist and vocalist Ariel Wyner, who serves as a High Holy Day cantor and tours with the Ruta Beggars, Boston’s premier bluegrass band; G Rockwell, a banjoist, guitarist, mandolinist, vocalist and composer, currently studying at the New England Conservatory of Music; and Korey Brodsky, a Boston-based guitarist and mandolinist.
Kol Kahol seeks to push the boundaries of contemporary Jewish music and traditional American Roots music within the context of Jewish prayer. In combining these two musical identities, they offer a unique spiritual experience to those who are wrestling with their own identity, particularly regarding what it means to be an American Jew. They believe that Jewish liturgical music can expand beyond traditional melodies while maintaining its essence in a traditional prayer structure.
“At heart,” they explain, “we are all bluegrass musicians, and we center ourselves—and thus our new music—in its natural groove and language.”
The program will run from 7:30 to around 9:30 pm. Doors will open at 7 pm. No food or beverages will be served this year, and none should be brought into BEKI. Masks are required. There is no charge for admission, but the musicians will pass the hat.