Jewish Cultural Festival’s music offerings

M ount Masada, the famous fortress plateau in Israel, rises 1,300 feet above the Dead Sea. In Dayton, Ohio, it’s an 18-foot ride down an inflatable slide of the same name. Families can experience this attraction, food, and other entertainment, including a reference to the Wailing Wall and a live petting zoo, at Temple Israel’s […]

The Boxcar Suite honors Jewish heritage in performance

By Tammy Newsom


The Boxcar Suite (L-R) Phil Caviness, Trevor Bell, Tim Pritchard, Tony Moore.

Mount Masada, the famous fortress plateau in Israel, rises 1,300 feet above the Dead Sea. In Dayton, Ohio, it’s an 18-foot ride down an inflatable slide of the same name. Families can experience this attraction, food, and other entertainment, including a reference to the Wailing Wall and a live petting zoo, at Temple Israel’s (TI) Jewish Cultural Festival on June 10.

“The main purpose of the Jewish Cultural Festival is a celebration of Jewish heritage and history, extended to people who might not know about Judaism,” said Courtney Cummings, TI’s in-house Cantor and Music Program Director. “Based on previous attendance, 2/3 of the festivals attendees are not Jewish.” Cummings is a classically trained singer with a master’s degree in Music Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music.

Since performance art is so vital to Cummings and to the festival in general, seven different musical acts were added to the event, with five educational guest speakers. Among the groups asked to perform this year is the local rock and folk hero band The Boxcar Suite (TBS), who just released their second full-length album, Further in and Farther Out, through the Dayton label Magnaphone Records, available on vinyl and digital format.

“We are an original rock and roll band in a broad sense playing original music,” said songwriter and Boxcar Suite front man Tim Pritchard. “The concert at the Jewish Cultural Festival covers scores by Jewish musicians.”

Cummings heard about the band through a mutual friend, a former TI entertainment chair, who encouraged them to play a set of modern songs by Jewish singers and songwriters on stage three years ago.

“We were identified as a good fit for covering some of the more contemporary acts led by Jewish artists and they’ve asked us to return each year. It’s always a great time,” said Pritchard.  “As we are recording more music we are asked to do a certain amount of traditional music from a contemporary board.” TBS will be performing well-known covers from beloved musical acts of the rock era. “Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Marc Bolan and T. Rex,” Pritchard notes. “And music from The Cars. Two of its members are not only Jewish but are from Ohio. Lou Reed is also of Jewish descent.”

Pritchard describes the band’s proud tradition originating from the era of The Cosmic Birds, rooted in folk and country traditions, and European and eastern music. “Some of the imagery and hard-core influences echo psychedelic rock of the 1970s,” Pritchard explained. TBS’s harmonizing vocals, grounded bass, and detailed guitar work have captivated fans in Dayton since its first full-length debut release, Across the Vast and Deep in 2014.

Pritchard’s music was first introduced to Dayton in the mid-2000s with the band Flyaway Minion. He reconnected with former Minion member Phil Caviness in 2010 with his brother on a group project called Flash in the Pan—a project that Pritchard would describe as a precursor to TBS. That group played as a three-piece. “Caviness soared as a bass player and singer,” said Pritchard. From there, Pritchard played a short time with a group called Flood, while still living in Athens, Ohio and enrolled as an environmental engineering student at Ohio University. Flyway Minion was the first iteration as a cohesive group. The EP It Shall Be Revealed, released in the summer of 2012, came together as the other players who would comprise The Boxcar Suite provided the backup to help Pritchard flesh out his album. Pritchard saw the value in combining their musical talents by following up with the 2016 EP Life on the Limb, which stayed in progress for two years. “Further In and Farther Out was the most collaborative material written for this band,” Pritchard has said. Pritchard and TBS have evolved a reliable songwriting process working together in jam sessions. Guitarist Tony Moore creates riffs and ideas, then Phil Caviness contributes bass and vocals.

“If it sticks well enough I take it back and form a song with good parts for all (players),” Pritchard adds. That musical rapport between group members is revealed in the finished songs.

“Spiritual discipline of art is part of life,” said Pritchard. “Playing a guitar can be speaking about more than just the music you make.”

In addition to the Jewish Cultural Festival, The Boxcar Suite has several concerts dates planned this summer, with performances in Yellow Springs on July 13 at Peach’s; a WeCare Arts benefit on August 4; Trolley Stop on August 17; and August 23 at downtown’s new Levitt Pavilion.

The Boxcar Suite is scheduled to play at 6:15 at The Eighth Annual Jewish Cultural Festival. The Festival is Sunday June 10, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Temple Israel, 130 Riverside Drive and is free and open to the public. See www.tidayton.org for festival details. Find The Boxcar Suite online at theboxcarsuite.com

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