The Sway Machinery

The Sway Machinery


Blues singer and Balkan Beat Box guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood teams up with an all-star cast of NY underground greats (musicians working with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tom Waits, Arcade Fire and Antibalas, to name a few) to channel ancient melodies and summon voices from beneath the concrete streets.


The Sway Machinery is an all-star collective of innovative visionaries led by guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood of Balkan Beat Box. The Sway Machinery also includes Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on drums, Stuart Bogie and Jordan McLean of the Antibalas horn section on tenor saxophone and trumpet respectively, and touring member of the Arcade Fire Colin Stetson on bass saxophone.

The Sway Machinery's sound stems from Lockwood's rich musical relationships with his grandfather Cantor Jacob Konigsberg, and with his mentor Carolina Slim, the renowned blues player who fondly guided Lockwood's musical development. Konigsberg, one of the last great exponents of Cantorial singing, guided Lockwood into an understanding and love of the soulful and ancient heritage of Synagogue music. Lockwood's deeply personal relationship to these two musical traditions helped him to forge a unique musical language of his own, as he learned to move from singing in his grandfather's study to playing with Carolina Slim in New York City subway stations. The Sway Machinery was borne out of this rich layering of culture.

Though The Sway Machinery carefully cultivates Lockwood's deeply felt relationship to his musical roots, his accomplished colleagues bring to the table the sounds of afro-beat horns, unassailable rock beats and an astutely contemporary musical sensibility.

Lockwood layers the haunting notes of his Cantorial-influenced vocals over the energetic, celebratory rhythms of afro-pop, hard-hitting drums and the blues. Their recordings showcase pieces based on mystical texts taken directly from the Jewish High Holiday prayers and reconfigures them in a startlingly new musical landscape. Lockwood's ambitious melding of styles results in what The Village Voice has called a most “joyful synthesis.”


The Sway Machinery EP, 2008 JDub Records
Hidden Melodies Revealed, 2009 JDub Records

Set List

A 45 minute set list might consist of the following pieces, all of which are original compositions based on old traditional Cantorial pieces and folkloric motifs and texts taken from medieval Hebrewprayer poems:

P'Sach Lanu Sha'ar
Anim Zemiros
A Staff of Strength in the Hands of the Righteous
Aveinu Malkeinu Z'khor
Adiray Ayumah
Revive the Dead
Rachamana D'Onay
Longa Shachnaz
I Shall Chant Praises