A July 26 performance at 92Y Tribeca brought together an unlikely yet complimentary pair of musical acts to celebrate the recent marriage equality victory in New York. Lesbian klezmer band Isle of Klezbos and funk/rock songwriter Nedra Johnson both defied the limitations of any one genre but definitely shared a penchant for fun.
Johnson kicked off the night with an acoustic set that held one foot firmly in blues, and danced with the other through funk, spoken word, folk, and gospel. With dexterous finger-picking reminiscent of Ani DiFranco, a voice similar but smoother than Tracy Chapman, and sexy yet intelligent lyrics that at times recalled Suzanne Vega, Johnson wooed the crowd with tunes like “Alligator Food,” possibly the best love song ever written for a deaf person.
The “klezbians” of Isle of Klezbos then filled the stage with a profusion of instruments. Demonstrating truly impressive technical musical abilities, the band belted out tunes that had deep roots in Klezmer as well as in classic and experimental jazz. Traditional Yiddish wedding dances were sprinkled with historical fun-facts. One favorite, an original composition called “Mellow Manna,” was aptly described as Klezmer reggae.
This celebration of love was a hit with the enthusiastic audience, who returned the sentiment. Isle of Klezbos and Nedra Johnson have shared the stage before, and hopefully will again soon.