Atlanta Jewish Music Festival ‘Wildly Successful’

Atlanta Jewish Music Festival ‘Wildly Successful’

The ninth spring festival was the biggest and best yet.

Folk musician Chana Rothman entertains crowds of all ages during her weeklong artist residency. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)
Folk musician Chana Rothman entertains crowds of all ages during her weeklong artist residency. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)

The ninth annual Atlanta Jewish Music Festival ended its three-week medley Sunday, March 25, giving the staff and volunteers a chance to catch their breath after producing, promoting and applauding more than 30 shows in the South’s largest Jewish music fest.

“AJMF9 was wildly successful,” festival Executive Director Russell Gottschalk said. “This year’s fest exceeded expectations with new collaborations and our longest-ever artist residency.”

The festival attracted its largest audience ever with approximately 6,350 attendees during the three weeks.

The fiercely talented Hannah Zale rocks Venkman’s in the middle of the festival. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)

Festival organizers point to the variety of talent in the festival as the key to its success. This year’s lineup included hip-hop, folk, world music, jazz and rock along with more traditional Jewish genres such as klezmer and sacred music.

Philadelphia-based folk singer Chana Rothman entertained audience members ages 4 to 74 during AJMF’s longest musical residency. Rothman did seven events over four days, including leading tots in Shabbat songs, shooting a music video with teens from the Weber School and rocking the stage at Venkman’s.

A partnership with the Atlanta Science Festival provides a showcase for Shimon the musical robot. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)

This was also the first year AJMF significantly partnered with the non-Jewish Atlanta Science Festival. Shimon the robot from Georgia Tech showcased its computerized musical genius in an opening night performance that left crowds in awe.

Atlanta jazz virtuoso Joe Alterman plays to a sold-out crowd at the Marcus JCC. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)

AJMF’s second annual collaboration with non-Jewish organization ATL Collective attracted hundreds of fans to two shows re-creating Billy Joel’s classic album “The Stranger.”

Gottschalk said he is especially proud of the success of Israeli musicians.

Ravid Kahalani of Yemen Blues talks with fans after his high-energy performance at the Breman Museum.

On consecutive Sundays, Israeli band Yemen Blues sold out the Breman Museum, and Yemenite funk band Bint El Funk rocked a beautiful afternoon at Orpheus Brewing. Both groups had their audiences dancing and cheering.

Israeli Yemenite funk band Bint El Funk brings a hip vibe to Orpheus Brewing. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)

“This was a fantastic year to celebrate Israel as the nation approaches its 70th birthday,” Gottschalk said. “Both our Sunday afternoon shows by Israeli acts were a true celebration of Israeli music and culture.”

In the end, the spring festival encompassed 34 events: 27 public performances and seven private engagements.

Traditional musical from Tsvey Brider and Beyond the Pale opens the festival at City Winery on March 8. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)

“AJMF9 was another wonderful example of the beautiful diversity found in contemporary Jewish music,” Gottschalk said. “I’m proud of the three-weekend festival we produced and want to thank the entire AJMF staff, board and sponsor/donor family for enabling this important series of events for Atlanta’s Jewish and arts communities.”

Members of the Jewish community enjoy a lively retelling of real-life stories by Cantor Jack Mendelson during a “Cantor’s Couch” event. (Photo courtesy of AJMF)
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