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Meet Husband + Wife Bluegrass Singers Based in Montclair

by Katherine Chaves Diaz
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One of the best things about Montclair is how talented our neighbors are. Montclair husband and wife duo Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff are half of the band known as Nefesh Mountain, a well-known Jewish Bluegrass/Americana band. The two use their music to share the Jewish experience in America and to celebrate the rich tradition of music in America and the Jewish culture. Read on to learn more about this music-born love story.

(Photo credit: @nefeshmountain)

About Doni + Eric

Eric was born in Brooklyn, NY, and moved as a child to South Orange, NJ. He had a lot of extended families and visited Georgia frequently. Those trips later turned out to be a large influence on his musical style. He was always involved in playing music, so much so that he studied Jazz at Rutgers University, graduating with honors.  He became a full-time musician and composer. While Eric’s main instrument is guitar, he is also a skilled banjo player. He also plays the dobro and the mandolin.

Doni is the lead singer of the band. She, also had that natural-born artistic talent since she was born, joining all of the theater productions from her Jewish youth groups. Later on, she went to Brandeis University to study theater and then transferred to NYU to major in theater education.

(Photo credit: @nefeshmountain)

Initially, Nefesh Mountain started off as a duo of just Doni and Eric, who met playing music. They became friends and then bandmates. Over the years, they fell in love through making music. The band was their love story.“We met playing music,” reports Lindberg to JNS. “It is a love story between friends who were in synch, finding common themes in our lives—between Jewish culture, spirituality, bluegrass, and country music.”

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Now the pair lives in Montclair with their three children. Over the years the band has released three albums, toured all over the US and internationally, and won several awards. 

Nefesh Mountain

Nefesh Mountain is a bluegrass band with a Jewish perspective and music style. In Hebrew, “Nefesh” means an animated spirit. As Eric said, “We realized there is very little representation of Jewish culture in Americana music. We wanted to tell the story of what it means to be a Jewish American. Our challenge was to introduce banjos and bluegrass to the Jewish community over the years.” The band is known for its multicultural approach to the traditional bluegrass style. Musical influences from other styles of music and even other cultures are apparent in their music.

(Photo credit: @nefeshmountain)

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The band released its latest album this year, called “Songs for the Sparrows.” The inspiration for this album was a 2018 trip to Eastern Europe, which has been described as “life-changing”. The goal of the trip was to investigate where their families were originally from. It was tough for them to see the dismantling effects that the Holocaust had and use that experience as inspiration.

SOPAC presents Nefesh Mountain at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange on December 2, 2021, and tickets are available now. Keep up with the band via its Instagram and Facebook accounts. 

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