The Sway Machinery

The Sway Machinery

This unclassifiable, uplifting band is led by the singer and guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood, the grandson of the renowned cantor Jacob Konigsberg, whose choir Lockwood once sang in. Lockwood’s diverse musical influences also include a nearly two-decade apprenticeship in the New York subways with the legendary Piedmont blues master Carolina Slim and a collaboration with several prominent Malian musicians which took place on a long visit there a few years ago.

— The New Yorker

Live at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival
Gawad Teriamou, featuring Khaira Arby

The Sway Machinery’s sound is rooted in the personal history of bandleader Jeremiah Lockwood, whose storied education included singing in the choir of his grandfather, Cantor Jacob Konigsberg and over a decade of playing in the subways of New York City with Piedmont Blues legend Carolina Slim. Lockwood’s musical vision of worlds colliding in the experience of the individual has been aided and abetted by a stellar cast of band mates. The collective of brilliant musicians that make up the band features drummer John Bollinger, of Barbez, members of NYC afrobeat pioneers Antibalas, including band co-founder trumpeter Jordan McLean, bass player Nikhil Yerawadekar and guitarist Timothy Allen, and Arcade Fire sideman Matt Bauder on tenor saxophone. Past members of the collective have included bass saxophonist Colin Stetson (Arcade Fire), drummer Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Israeli percussionist Tomer Tzur and saxophonist Stuart Bogie (TV on the Radio, Iron and Wine).

The band’s breakthrough project, Hidden Melodies Revealed, was an event that blurred the line between ritual and concert, repurposing the Rosh HaShana (Jewish new year) service as an art experience and immersive spectacle. Collaborating artists on the project included actress/singer Yula Be’eri, film maker Shawn Atkins, puppet maker Paul Andrejco and artist Andrea Deszo. The project debuted in 2007 at the Angel Orensanz Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, on the site of the former Slonimer Synagogue where Lockwood’s grandfather’s debut concert took place in 1949. In 2009 the band released an album of music from the project and performed a version of the project in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In January of 2010, The Sway Machinery traveled to Mali to perform at the legendary Festival of the Desert in Timbuktu. While in Mali, the group recorded its second full-length album, The House of Friendly Ghosts Vol.1. The record featured collaborations with luminaries of Malian music, including Vieux Farka Toure and Khaira Arby. The band toured nationally and in Europe in support of the album, including numerous appearances with Khaira Arby.

In 2012-13 The Sway Machinery continued to burn up dance floors and festival stages around the world, including debuts in Australia, Israel, Warsaw, Mexico City and at legendary festivals Montreal Jazz and Roskilde in Denmark.

In March 2015, released their third LP, entitled Purity and Danger, juxtaposing songs about the subway and dead lovers with 200-year-old Cantorial melodies performed for the first time in generations. The album was followed by an EP of original love songs, You Will Love No One But Me. The band is currently working on a new album, inspired by the sounds of 20th century New York City, moving from the streets to the domestic space of songs sung around the table. This latest project is a collaboration with singer, composer and actress Yula Be’eri.