Jewish-American musician Matisyahu has returned to Israel for two concerts. His newly released CD and DVD, Live at Stubb's Volume II, features a mix of Torah-inspired classics such as One Day and King Without a Crown, as well as new interpretations of older songs. One track is totally new.
Born as Mathew Paul Miller to a secular Jewish family in New York, Matisyahu shot into worldwide fame with his 2005 album Live at Stubbs, and in time gained attention for his hassidic-inspired lyrics, mixed with a hip, reggae sound and electric guitars. His subsequent album Youth, featuring the song Jerusalem, hit gold status on the Billboard charts in the United States.
"Live at Stubb's Vol. II" features re-workings of popular older songs performed with his new backing band, the Dub Trio. It has less of a reggae feel than his previous releases, and more of a rock sound fused with other musical elements. An accompanying DVD features footage of the performance in Austin, Texas. Matisyahu can be seen dancing and singing, sporting beard and payos (sidelocks), and wearing a kippah, tzitzit and a scarf with blue and white Jewish stars and Hebrew words.
Yehuda Solomon of the Moshav Band joins Matisyahu on the song Two Child One Drop. Solomon hails from Moshav Mevo Modiin, the small Israeli agricultural community that was originally founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. A new song, Open The Gates, is featured as well. The song One Day was used by NBC for its coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics. In Israel the song gained popularity through the remix version by Israeli trance group Infected Mushroom, with whom Matisyahu has performed several times.
Matisyahu (right) on stage with Yehuda Solomon of the Moshav Band. Clip from the new Live at Stubb's Vol. 2.
Prior to his arriving in Israel this week, Matisyahu performed in Poland front of tens of thousands at the annual Life Festival Oświęcim. Held ever year in the town near the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp, the festival's stated goal is "building peaceful relations beyond cultural and state borders in which there is no place for anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of xenophobia." In an interview with the Life Festival organizers, Matisyahu said that performing in Poland is difficult because his wife's grandmother was an inmate in Auschwitz, but that he looked forward "to bring down some light in such a place."
Matisyahu will perform Thursday evening, June 23rd, at Safra Square in Jerusalem. He performed on Tuesday at the Zappa club in Tel Aviv.