The last time Jaffa Road played the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, in 2011, it was only the Canadian band’s second appearance in the United States. They have done few gigs here since then, and are eager to become better known.
“We had a great time last time,” said the band’s Aaron Lightstone on the phone from Toronto. “Most of our touring has been in Canada. We’re looking forward to expanding our audience base in the US. You’ve got 10 times more people than we have and our population is so spread out, which makes touring very difficult. In the US you could play many towns within a one to four hour drive of each other. But you fly in for a gig in Winnipeg – where (else) are you going to play?”
Jaffa Road’s sound will appeal to fans of jazz, dance, Jewish music, Middle Eastern, and it is “sprinkled with Indian and African music,” he said. Lightstone plays the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument that originated in the Middle East; other instruments in the five-piece band are guitars, synthesizers, saxophone, keyboards, bansuri (flute), a variety of percussion, and a Bass Veena, invented by bassist Justin Gray.
‘Where the Light Gets in,’ their second album, was nominated for a Juno Award, and they were named World Music Group of the Year at the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
“We’re a whole interesting blend of disparate music styles,” Lightstone said. “It’s a lot of different ingredients; it covers a pretty wide dynamic range, I would say. We’ve been told over and over again that it works.”
The kind of music they make is reflective of the multicultural environment in Toronto, Lightstone said. “The band is made up of musicians who really dove into studying jazz or Indian or Middle Eastern music. We like to play together and it all comes out in this natural, organic way. Sometimes it can get pretty rocking.”