We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Call it Jewish guilt, but I have always felt bad that I, a member of the tribe and a world-music enthusiast, have never been that crazy about klezmer, the clarinet-and-accordion-led genre most associated with the Jewish faith. Lucky for me, this year’s Washington Jewish Music Festival features more than just that. For example, the Balagan Boogaloo Party (at 10 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Bourbon) highlights hybrid dance music, with former WMUC jazz and rap director DJ Handler spinning hip-hop and Brazilian baile funk rhythms with Ashkenazic cantorial and Yemenite Jewish melodies layered over the top, and Y-Love (pictured), a black convert to Chassidus, a mystical strain of Orthodox Judaism, spitting verses in Aramaic as well as Hebrew, Yiddish, and Arabic. Y-Love and DJ Handler join producer Steve “Steinski” Stein of The Payoff Mix fame at the panel discussion “What’s Up With Jews & Hip Hop?” (at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 21). In 2001, Jewish jazz quintet Hasidic New Wave, led by Klezmatics trumpeter Frank London, teamed up with Yakar Rhythms, a Senegalese Sabar drum ensemble to record From the Belly of Abraham; five years later, (at 7 p.m., Sunday, May 21), these guys are still mixing outré brass blare with African beats. Rashanim (at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 22) is a power trio whose Masada Rock blends metal, surf, prog, and jazz. The festival closes with Michal Cohen, whose “Voice Like Henna” show (at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 24) sets 16th-century Yemenite poetry to 21st-century dance-pop rhythms. All events at the D.C. Jewish Community Center (except where otherwise noted), 1529 16th St. NW. For prices and more information, call (202) 777-3250 or log on to wjmf.org. (Steve Kiviat)