Noa and the Washington Jewish Music Festival

Sunday kicked off the 14th annual Washington Jewish Music Festival, presented by the Washington DCJCC’s Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts. Israeli icon Noa opened the festival at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center with a performance as versatile as it was contagious, including operatic pop, adapted children’s songs, and tin cans.

Achinoam Nini (Noa)’s Israeli-Yemenite-Bronx sound has become an international sensation. On Sunday night she was backed up by long-time collaborator Gil Dor, The Yoed Nir String Quartet, and Gadi Seri on percussion. The performers used a modest stage of two platforms and some chairs – plus a rug for Noa’s bare feet – to produce a huge sound spanning continents.

Their eclectic collection – including the theme song to Life is Beautiful along with songs from her Yemenite heritage and the Israeli songbook – was a perfect start to what will likely be a wild mix of world music this year. Here are some other events to look out for (see the full schedule here):

Mika Karni and Kol Dodi – Wednesday, May 1 – 8pm at Sixth & I: Expect a pop sound infused with Israeli, Moroccan, Yemenite, and Ethiopian rhythms.

Sarah Aroeste and Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird – Thursday, May 2 7:30pm – at Artisphere: You want Yiddish punk? Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) rock? Obviously you do, and you got it. This pairing looks really great.

The Big Broadway Sing-Along! – Wednesday, May 8, 7:30pm – at DCJCC
Because like they say in Spamalot, you just won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews!

There’s also a cappella, big band (of sorts), and documentary film. So get off your tuckus. Purchase tickets in advance or call (202) 777-3251. Same-day tickets are available for purchase 45 minutes before the event, subject to availability. The festival runs through May 11, 2013.

Joanna moved to DC in 2010 knowing she’d love it, and as usual she was right. She enjoys eating fried things, drinking scotch and smoking cigars, and makes up for the damage done by snacking on organic oats and barley and walking long distances to wherever with her dog Henry. Joanna now lives with her husband and said dog in Los Angeles, and they all miss DC terribly. Follow her on Twitter or contact her at

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