With their latest Organic Records single, Zoe & Cloyd reveal once again their unique ability to blend mountain music with the klezmer music legacy of Natalya Zoe Weinstein's family on "Hoffman's Hora/David's Frailach."
Incorporating two klezmer tunes - the first from a 1923 recording by xylophonist Jacob Hoffman, the second from sheet music in the handwriting of Weinstein's grandfather - the medley marks a further refinement of the synthesis Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller have been exploring since the formation of Zoe & Cloyd, including "Berditchever Sher" and "Zisa Meydele" on 2019's I Am Your Neighbor. Woven together with their authentic renditions of Appalachian old-time, folk and bluegrass songs, as well as their roots-inspired originals, it's an integral part of the duo's musical identity.
"These two klezmer instrumentals were in my grandfather, David Weinstein's, repertoire," says Natalya. "He was a professional musician who emigrated from Russia (what is now Ukraine) in 1923, and made his living here in America playing music for weddings, functions, and events."
"Horas and frailachs were dance tunes, and often were unnamed. This version of 'Hoffman's Hora' was named for an early recording of Jacob Hoffman and Kandel's Orchestra. I couldn't find another version of the frailach, except my grandfather's handwritten one, so we named it 'David's Frailach.'"
Weinstein's violin and Miller's guitar echo the sparse arrangement of their 1923 source on the opening "Hoffman's Hora" before upright bass and bluegrass banjo - supplied by band members Kevin Kehrberg and Bennett Sullivan - join in to provide propulsive rhythm and melodic embroidery to the strains of "David's Frailach."
"I think that bluegrass and klezmer blend together well because of their folk history and sensibilities," Weinstein notes. "It's a beautiful fusion!"
About Zoe & Cloyd
Zoe & Cloyd spring from deep roots in American music. Founding members of the acclaimed Americana trio, Red June, and long-time veterans of the Asheville, NC music scene, Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller released their second full-length album, Eyes Brand New, in spring of 2017. Highlighting their emotive songwriting and signature harmonies, this album showcased the breadth of their collective musical spirit, seamlessly combining original folk, country, old-time and bluegrass with sincerity and zeal. Zoe & Cloyd's debut recording, Equinox (2015), was met with high acclaim and the pair has continued to gain momentum with a 1st place win at the prestigious FreshGrass Festival Duo Contest along with performances at MerleFest, Music City Roots and more.
John Cloyd Miller's foundation in traditional bluegrass and old-time music coupled with his modern sensibility combine to make him a natural musician and performer. A twelfth generation North Carolina native and the grandson of pioneering bluegrass fiddler and NC Folk Heritage Award winner Jim Shumate, his Appalachian roots run deep. John is well known for his haunting mountain voice as well as his instrumental prowess and award-winning songwriting. He is a 1st place winner of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and a recipient of an Artist Fellowship for songwriting by the North Carolina Arts Council.
Natalya Zoe Weinstein also comes from a musical family: her father is a master jazz pianist and her grandfather, originally from Russia, was a professional klezmer musician. She is an accomplished fiddler in a variety of styles as well as an inspired singer and songwriter. While trained classically in her home state of Massachusetts, she has spent many years fine-tuning her bluegrass and old-time fiddling with some of the country's top traditional musicians. Now a mentor to many young players, Natalya is a sought after instructor and is in high demand as a teacher and session musician.