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‘The Sway Machinery’s Annual Purim Canrivale’ at Littlefield

Purim rocks: This celebration has costumes and hamantashen — but no kids

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Why should kids have all the Purim party fun?

On March 15, Brooklyn band the Sway Machinery will throw an adults-only “Purim Carnivale” at Littlefield in Gowanus. Not only will it be free from little tykes dressed as Mordechai and Esther, don’t expect any Megillah readings, either.

“We’re not taking the place of a synagogue service,” said the band’s singer and guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood. “This is more like the after party.”

The multiculturally-minded Brooklyn quintet — which fuses Jewish Cantorial music with blues, Afro-beat, and indie rock — has been holding these celebrations off-and-on since 2006, as part of an ongoing effort to modernize various events on the Jewish calendar. Lockwood likened his band’s work to that of West African bands from the 1970s.

“They were taking this traditional village music and subjecting it to Westernization by adding dance beats and electric instruments,” he said.

For this year’s “Purim Carinvale,” the Sway Machinery will be doing what it does best — mixing together an array of global musical influences to create a punchy sound that is sure to encourage a lot of dancing.

The band also aims to build a bridge between local artistic and cultural communities by booking a diverse range of musicians on the bill. In years past, that has included a Haitian carnival band and a mariachi ensemble. This time around, it is Mitra Sumara, a group that specializes in covers of pop tunes originally recorded by Iranian artists in the 1960s and ’70s.

“It’s this amazing musical subculture,” Lockwood said. “It’s pre-revolutionary funk and soul. Really beautiful music that is gradually becoming less obscure.”

The party will still stick to some Purim traditions, however. There will be hamantashen to nosh on, and attendees are highly encouraged to come in costume. Lockwood said the band hope to get as many folks as possible decked out in colorful outfits — and those who do will be rewarded with a $5 discount off the price of admission.

“We want to have the same flavor as Halloween at our party,” said Lockwood. “We want to see a lot of flamboyancy on display.”

“The Sway Machinery’s Annual Purim Carnivale” at Littlefield [622 Degraw St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 855–3388, www.littlefieldnyc.com]. March 15 at 8 pm. $10–$15.

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