From the Museum to Matzah Ball Soup: An Interview With Sheldon Sands

Sheldon Sands, one of the musicians in our upcoming concert, Opa! A Night of Soulful Sounds From Athens to Jerusalem,  was kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions about the featured bands and his own musical background.

Sherefe Trio

Photo: Sherefe Trio

1. Who are the members of Sherefe and the Boulder Klezmer Consort, and what instruments do they play?

We have an unbelievable line up, of who I am both humbled and delighted to play with:

Jesse Manno plays oud, bouzouki, saz, vocals, flutes and drum kit
James Hoskins plays cello, gadulka, saz, percussion and guitar
Brett Bowen plays percussion
Dexter Payne plays clarinet and saxaphone
Sheldon Sands plays keys and percussion

2. How did your group first get involved with the Mizel Museum?

I have had a strong working relationship with the Mizel Museum for over 7 years, producing concerts and presenting lectures, workshops and camps, such as the “Musical Globetrotters”, a week-long camp for kids where we got to learn about the music of the world through hands-on instrument making, improvisational ensembles, media, movement and more. This association lead to the museum’s work with my group, “The Boulder Klezmer Consort, which truly is a consortium of about 10 virtuoso Boulder based Klezmer musicians. We have been privileged to be involved with a number of Mizel museum productions, including Unbounded: Breaking the Chains of Modern Day Slavery (March 2013), and Klezfest (Dec 24th, 2012-13) at the Mercury Cafe. Jesse and James of Sherefe are founding members as well of the Boulder Klezmer Consort, so when Georgina Kolber of the museum invited me to put together a group for a great world music concert, it was a natural to team up with Sherefe, a band I absolutely adore. This is Sherefe’ first opportunity to work with the Museum.

3. Can you describe your group’s music style?

Sherefe performs traditional ethnic folk songs from Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and the Middle East, including selections from both Arab and Jewish traditions. The Boulder
Klezmer consort of course specializes in Klezmer music, including compositions direct from Pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe, and melodies by more contemporary 20th and 21st century Jewish American composers.


Photo: The Boulder Klezmer Consort

4. Of all the performances you have done over the years, which was your
favorite and why?

Oh boy, that is a tough one, so many fabulous events! I would say that the CD release concert in 2003 for my Dead Sea Strolls album is at the top of the list…I was joined by two of the great Israeli musicians- Eyal Sela and Yinon Muallemwho I recorded the basic tracks with in Tel Aviv- and Sherefe. The concert was at the Chautauqua Community Hall, one of the nicest places to gather and play.

5. Do you have any pre-show traditions or superstitions? If so, what are they?

Great question! Not really, I just try to take some time from doing all the tech set-up work, get a little good food in the belly and take some good breaths before showtime…Every night is different, you never know exactly what to expect, and after all the preparation and anxiousness, it is time to just get in the moment, try to relax a little and see how the magic will unfold!

6. What first sparked your interest in this music genre?

Clearly, this was my first trip to Israel as an adult in 1995 with my Turkish born/pre-statehood Israel raised father. One of my Israeli cousins turned me on to some of the amazing ethnic music coming out of Israel, intersections of Arab and Jewish, ancient and modern, East meeting West… I was hooked!

7. Where is your favorite place in Colorado to listen to live music?

We are lucky to have so many great venues. I would have to say the Boulder

8. What’s your favorite Jewish food?

When someone really gets chicken matzah ball soup right, it truly feeds the heart,
soul and earthly senses, and cures your ills 🙂

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