Celebrating Music with Neustadt JAAMM Summer Concert Series

Written by Shlomit Ovadia of JCC Denver

Six generations ago, a troupe of Goldstein family members arrived bright-eyed on wagons, forming what would become some of the earliest Jewish communities in Colorado. Meet Goldstein family member Adam, a writer, musician, and yogi, whose recent discovery of fortuitous connections to the J led to a spectacular Irish folk Neustadt JAAMM poolside performance for the Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the JCC last month.

“A few years ago, I signed up with the J because I missed swimming,” the Core Power yoga instructor explains. He did a tour of the facilities with his dad, for whom the experience was a trip down memory lane. Having grown up at the J, Adam’s dad was able to point out art installations from ‘back in the day’ and even comically recognize the rabbi who bar mizvah’d him in one photograph on display.

Yet, there is more to Adam’s JCC Denver connection than the obvious things like his great grandfather’s dedication of the indoor pool, or undergoing personal trainer Avishai’s grueling strength training sessions that keep Adam, and a steady stream of other nutty fitness enthusiasts— myself included— coming back for what can only be described as ‘Type 2’ fun; uncomfortable in the moment, yet incredibly satisfying after.

Similar to Adam’s discovery of his paternal ties to JCC Denver, the musician’s maternal side brings another flavor – one of Irish roots and Celtic music, that, earlier this summer, made its way to the Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the J in a pas de deux.

“I fell in love with Irish music at 18,” Adam recalls of discovering Irish song and guitar. Soon after, he met Cieran—an excellent fiddle player who got him to “think deeper into the musical side of tradition,” to combine timeless ballads with a palpable nostalgia.

“Once I started frequenting the J more, did I realize the other elements apart from the gym,” of discovering our myriad arts and culture programming. No sooner did the artist envision combining his love of music with the greater Jewish community that he performed as part of the Neustadt JAAMM Summer Concert Series poolside with the Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the JCC.  You can join our next one on July 28.

“It was really nice to have this full circle moment at this place I have roots in across the generations,” the Denver writer divulges.

Over the years, Avourneen has worked with a revolving cast of characters and Celtic musicians across the state, in addition to having played in Ireland as well as at various festivals in the United States including Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah, and are regular performers at Swallow Hill Music in Denver.

“I fell in love because it’s such a heartfelt kind of music,” Adam explains. “It’s a demanding kind of music that I’ve learned so much about art from.”

Oddly enough, Irish folk shares many distinguishable elements with that of Jewish Klezmer music, another arm of Mizel Arts and Culture Center programming at the JCC. The former genre’s fiddle-based, age-old tunes rely on the same time signatures as do some Klezmer songs, plus a mutual predilection for celebratory, fast-paced vocals.

During the event, Avourneen played an eclectic lineup of Celtic, Klezmer, and original tunes for a steady stream of friends and families who hung out by the pool, as well as some unexpecting swimmers.

“I had a good time thinking someone showed up to swim and saw a fiddler shredding, and they’re killing it as they’re doing laps” – an amusing visual to entertain.

Next up:  Neustadt JAAMM Summer Concert by the Pool on July 28, sponsored by Ratio Beerworks and featuring Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe.