Netta in her new music video, "I Love My Nails."
Netta in her new music video, "I Love My Nails."

Upcoming Bay Area concerts: Netta, Mostly Kosher and more

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Several celebrated Israeli and Jewish musicians are performing in the Bay Area this month, and tickets are going fast. Here are some of the can’t-miss shows.

The Los Angeles-based band Mostly Kosher will bring a blend of klezmer and rock to Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco on Thursday, April 20 and Livermore’s Bankhead Theater on Sunday, April 23. The group has built a loyal fan base during its six-year residency at Disney California Adventure and recently signed with FLi Artists (The Klezmatics, Yasmin Levy).

At the Livermore show, the band will perform songs in English, Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino from their 2022 album “The World Is Yours!” Hazzan Sandy Bernstein of Walnut Creek’s Congregation B’nai Shalom and her husband, percussionist and singer Gaston Bernstein, will join the band as guest artists.

Leeav Sofer, Mostly Kosher’s multi-instrumentalist frontman, told Livermore Valley Arts that many of the songs on “The World Is Yours!” were inspired by current events. “It’s been about mutual understanding, fighting some disinformation, as well as kind of focusing on even some mental health themes,” he said.

He added that the Livermore show will be “intergenerational friendly” and highly interactive. “Our energy is really going to be about getting a lot of audience participation through the joy, the personified joy of this music,” he said. “How do we fit a hora in your theater?”

On Friday, April 28, San Francisco Opera will present “Rise Up And Resist: A Commemorative Concert on the 80th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.”

The one-night only concert, which is co-presented by Taube Philanthropies, will feature San Francisco Opera fellows and members of the opera’s orchestra performing a range of music, from songs that were sung in the Warsaw Ghetto in defiance of the Nazis to popular cabaret songs of the time. Several pieces will be sung in Yiddish, including Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

This is one of many similarly themed concerts happening around the world during the four-week period of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which took place from April 19 to May 16, 1943. It was the largest Jewish act of armed resistance during World War II.

That same night, Netta Barzilai, the Israeli pop singer who won 2018’s Eurovision Song Contest, will perform her hits at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. Best known for her quirky song “Toy” — the only Eurovision-winning song to include chicken noises! — Barzilai has emerged as a female empowerment and self-love advocate.

In a 2022 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she described herself as “half drag queen, half Powerpuff girl and half [British singer] Jacob Collier.” Her latest single is a catchy breakup song called “I Love My Nails.”

Finally, on Sunday, April 30, two Bay Area klezmer groups, the San Francisco Yiddish Combo and Baymele, will perform at the Polly Klaas Theater in Petaluma. The organizers are calling the concert the North Bay Jewish Music Festival, and they hope to make it an annual event.

“There’s a strong Jewish population in the North Bay, and through this festival we hope to introduce other folks to the world of Jewish music,” artist director Jason Eckl told J. “Both of these ensembles take easy-to-digest, easy-to-love parts of Jewish music and present those.”

The Novato-based San Francisco Yiddish Combo plays updated renditions of classic klezmer tunes. Baymele is a local klezmer trio that formed in 2018. (Accordionist Dmitri Gaskin and cellist Misha Khalikulov will perform as a duo at the North Bay Jewish Music Festival.) Baymele’s latest album of original music, titled “Kosmopolitn,” is a collaboration with klezmer duo Tsvey Brider.

In between the two acts, Elaine Leeder, professor emerita of sociology at Sonoma State University, will give a short lecture on Jewish culture and music.

Andrew Esensten
Andrew Esensten

Andrew Esensten is the culture editor of J. Previously, he was a staff writer for the English-language edition of Haaretz based in Tel Aviv. Follow him on Twitter @esensten.