Festival Review: Jacob's Ladder winter weekend

The Jacob’s Ladder Winter Weekend is a bit like a blast from the past. In the nicest possible way.

December 5, 2011 21:34
2 minute read.
La Vache Qui Rit

La Vache Qui Rit 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Ya’arah Nahar Davis)

The Jacob’s Ladder Winter Weekend is a bit like a blast from the past. In the nicest possible way, it reminds you of something else, something which is equally as dear although not quite the same. That “something else” is, of course, the elder and bigger sibling festival which has been taking place up north for over three decades, while the Winter Weekend generally feels like a cozy furtive taste of the main event.

There were familiar faces on and off stage, with the likes of vocalist-guitarists Diane Kaplan and Shay Tochner joining forces on Saturday morning for emotive renderings of songs by folkie scene giants the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Jim Croce.

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Naturally, there was plenty to be had from the Emerald Isle and other parts of the Celtic world, particularly from the main act from abroad, uillean piper Fiachra and Québécoise fiddler Sophie.

They did a couple of shows and also took part in an intimate “meet Fiachra and Sophie” session in which they explained some of the mysteries of their art, and let the audience in on some behind-thescenes goings on.

The other import was returning Jewish New Yorker singer-guitarist-comic Sean Altman who delighted and shocked with ditties about how much taller he is than Jesus, confusion about some of our religious holidays, and a wistful number about a part of his anatomy that went missing when he was eight days old.

Harpist Sunita Stanelsow regaled us with a selection of songs from North America and beyond, with longtime collaborator Kaplan helping out on a couple of numbers, while Jacob’s Ladder favorite La Vache Qui Rit had the joint jumping with an international program that ran the gamut from Greece to France and many points betwixt.

The penultimate act on Saturday afternoon stretched the cultural and genre spread even further as the Echoes 3 guitar- bass-violin trio provided a high quality rendition of a multicultural repertoire that took in klezmer, Spanish, classical and blues, with added gypsy and pop seasoning.

There were also a couple of shake-a-leg slots with country line-dancing, and an international folk-dancing session with Meir and Meshi while, as usual, gravitation- defying Manny put the faithful through their Irish dancing paces.

Meanwhile, the Kinneret laid low – far too low – and shimmered in the sinking sun as we packed up our belongings and tent – one of just three on the lawn near the main stage site in the spring - and headed back home, and counting the days till the spring festival comes round.

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