Rosh HaShanah, the coming of the Jewish New Year brings this immense feeling of both joy and dread, as we are celebrating while awaiting our yearly judgement. One of the most defining symbols of the Holy Day is the Shofar, which Halachically (Jewish Law-wise) has to be a Ram’s horn.
The blasts emanating from the Shofar caused the hearts, minds, and very souls of the Jewish people to quiver, losing themselves in the ecstasy of the moment. I am speaking of this for two main reasons: 1. Today is the last Daf (page) of the cycle of this specific tractate. And, 2. It is my cousin Jeremiah Lockwood’s birthday!!!
This man is the muse of Brooklyn who, unlike anyone on this green earth, has tapped into the wealth of music by bridging the gap that I can only write about. He extends the ideas of connecting African-American and Jewish traditions into the most soulful music your ears will ever hear. One of the most amazing things about Jeremiah, who also performs with his group The Sway Machinery, is that he constantly evolves never letting the rigid confines of the critics to stifle his ever-expanding creativity. I have followed this progression for some time and have seen the many faces, and talents, of the great interpreter of Jewish dreams.
You can fall into the beauty of his strumming in his performance of the bluesy “Tell it All To Me.”
This is another great performance, as well as snippets of Jeremiah’s words about his grandfather, the venerable Chazzan (Cantor) Jacob Konigsberg, and how he defies the laws of definitions and categories. He extends on the Chazzanut, which is a prominent section of his inner being, while transmitting it in a transformed method.
Another great trait, and great inspiration for myself and the rest of the stable of cousins is his fearlessness in experimentation. He could have remained in a safe house of categories, but no Jew can do that. For his next venture he, and the band, ventured to Mali and released a magnificent opus titled The House of Friendly Ghosts, Vol. 1. In this beautiful mixture of Jewish Chulent, Blues style porridge, and African soul, with the help of the majestic Khaira Arby they produced a new mixture for the world, both below and on high, to digest slowly and soulful.
Although it might seem that Jeremiah flies high above the terrain of limited geography, history is never lost. He wrote a magnificent piece on reclaiming myths, for all people to be inspired to reclaim these lost ones from the powers that be-hold the eye. He wrote that, “In the early 20th century, the modern development of the Blues reclaimed and revived the voice of this mythic lone griot…The Great Blues artists, such as Son House and Robert Johnson, sought out historic forms of African-American culture like field hollers and rural call-and-response church hymns. From these elements they constructed a new and innovative musical language. The new music was both a vehicle for personal expression and a staging ground for the exposition of a historical identity.”
Thank you Jeremiah for being one of the mythic Blues players. However, I wouldn’t even dare categorize you, due to your driving spirit.
Enjoy, and Happy Birthday!!!
Sing it on for the masses, and culture.
#JeremiahLockwood #TheSwayMachinery #TractaeRoshHaShanah