Worldly music

Israel-born Moshav tour the world to a traditional and modern dance-friendly beat

Moshav: (from left) Yehuda Solomon and Duvid Swirsky.

Moshav: (from left) Yehuda Solomon and Duvid Swirsky.

photo courtesy of Moshav

Moshav performs Thursday, Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m., at Chico Women's Club.
Tickets: $22/advance (add $3 at door), available at Diamond W, Lyon Books and Music Connection. Info: 345-8136.
Chico Women’s Club
592 E. Third St.

The story of Moshav Band (or simply Moshav) goes back further than most people might realize. The group’s core members—Duvid Swirsky and Yehuda Solomon—met on their namesake Moshav Me’or Modi’im, a tiny Israeli village tucked in the hills between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. While Solomon was born in Israel, Swirsky arrived via his hippie parents, who spent their formative years in San Francisco. Swirsky says 90 percent of the population played a musical instrument, inspiring these two kids who at that point hadn’t even turned 10.

The driving force behind the village’s musicality was none other than Shlomo Carlebach, the widely known rabbi and musician who rubbed elbows with Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger during his time in Greenwich Village. Carlebach died in 1994 from a heart attack, leaving behind generations who had adopted his musical approach to prayer.

“We were all close to him, so it had an impact on us,” explains Swirsky. “But I was more affected by his performances than his passing.”

The members of Moshav—which also includes Yosef Solomom and Karen Teperberg—took that influence and have run with it for nearly two decades. Moshav blends folk with hip-hop and reggae with lyrics that come across as sort of singing prayers. It sounds exotic and familiar all at once.

“When we’re writing songs, we just try to be as real as possible,” says Swirsky. “We grew up in a very spiritual experience. It’s what we want our live show to be—like going to a temple, but with more dancing and silliness.”

The band made its U.S debut in 1998, playing for college audiences, and opening the group up to a wider audience. Solomon and Swirsky have called Los Angeles home for 12 years, although they still make the pilgrimage back to Israel several times a year. Swirsky considers Moshav very much a live band. The group has recorded eight albums—gaining attention in Jewish communities all over the globe—that are all about capturing the live experiences.

Moshav currently is working on two projects—a record with producer Ron Aniello, who worked with the band on 2006’s Misplaced LP and who’s placed his silky touch on albums by Barenaked Ladies and Bruce Springsteen. The other is a record that will focus on more traditional music, including a Shlomo Carlebach cover.

Perhaps 2013 will be the year Moshav will cross over to the NPR crowd (you listening, Marco Werman?). In the meantime, the band continues to tour religiously. Swirsky says that while they may call L.A. home, it’s not often they are actually there. But you won’t hear any complaints from this modern band of gypsies, whose success to this point is well earned.

“We feel very lucky that we get to do this,” says Swirsky. “We don’t really think about it that much. But we do have an eye on a bigger audience.”