Bluegrass Band Nefesh Mountain to Perform First Montana Show in Whitefish

The performance at the O’Shaughnessy Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 10. General admission tickets are $25.

By Mike Kordenbrock
Nefesh Mountain will play at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Photo by Shervin Lainez

If Flathead Valley music lovers have seen Nefesh Mountain perform before, it wasn’t at a show in Montana.

Which is somewhat remarkable considering the degree to which regular touring is a part of the band’s identity. At the heart of the New York-based bluegrass and Americana band are the married couple Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg. Zasloff shared recently that one benchmark of just how much traveling Nefesh Mountain does is that their young daughter had made it to 29 states by the time she reached the age of 1.

Lindberg said they’re down to roughly their last six or seven states. “So we’re getting close,” he said of performing in every state.

On Aug. 10 they’ll be performing at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. The show is hosted by the Glacier Jewish Community, and is in part a celebration of the Jewish congregation making it eight years, and the upcoming retirement of Rabbi Francine Roston.

Of Nefesh Mountain, Roston said in a press release that they are “the perfect musical group for our congregation to bring to the valley because their music bridges multiple styles of music and many communities — just as our congregation unites Jewish folks around the valley and works to build strong relationships with our non-Jewish neighbors.”

The band describes itself as having a sound that blurs the lines between Americana, bluegrass, folk, jazz and blues. As Rolling Stone described them in a 2019 write-up of the release of their “A Mighty Roar” music video, the band “offers a unique perspective on the genre” of bluegrass, and that “While fleshing out their songs with string instruments, high lonesome harmonies, and fast-paced picking, the principals also pepper in lyrics in Hebrew as a nod to their Jewish background.”

“Our music and a major message behind us as a band is … it’s like let your flag fly and be yourself. And embracing that, embracing all of our differences and that it’s all OK under the sky, all of our differences,” Lindberg said. He added that “we tend to leave the spiritual and religion out of the main part of the discussion because it’s just part of who we are. We can’t change it and we’ve got to be proud of ourselves, the same way anyone would be proud of themselves. So we hope that that message is going to carry across, and we really stay out of the political thing and any of that stuff. We really just want a positive show of light.”

In more abbreviated terms, Zasloff said, simply, “We’re hippies.”

She added that they go into performances, wherever they may be, with a desire to connect with people through music. “We kind of go in with our hearts open. We try to just be very, very authentic, and put it all out there. Luckily, we’ve gotten a lot of love back. You know, there’s a lot of good people in the world.”

Recently the band has been delving into more Americana-influenced arrangements, including by adding a drummer. It’s still the same band, Lindberg insisted, but the COVID-19 pandemic sent him back into his songbook and on a journey to rediscover some of the early influences that had always been there, like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Lindberg, who plays guitar and banjo, said, “We wanted to kind of cross-pollinate these worlds of real acoustic music that exists in the bluegrass world with this more electric stuff that we’ve always loved and cut our teeth on.”

One indication of that is the release early this year of a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s song “Revival,” which was originally the lead track on the Allman Brothers Band’s 1970 sophomore studio album “Idlewild South.”

Nefesh Mountain has also been jamming more onstage, even throwing in a Grateful Dead cover here and there, and while Lindberg said the setlist for the Whitefish show hasn’t been finalized yet, they might throw in some surprises.

The band is planning on releasing an EP this year, and in the coming months wants to get in the studio to record their next album. Their last album, “Songs For the Sparrows,” was released in 2021. Bluegrass Today called it “a stunning set overall,” and an indication that Nefesh Mountain had “clearly reached a new peak.”

Nefesh Mountain’s show this Thursday, Aug. 10, at the O’Shaughnessy Center is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $25. For more information, including to purchase tickets in advance, go to www.glacierjc.org.