Music » Livewire

Matisyahu

With 311 and Shootyz Groove. Friday, August 3, at the Time Warner Cable Amphitheatre at Tower City, the Flats.

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Matisyahu is a reggae-singing Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn who got his first big break appearing with Phish at Bonnaroo several years back. As you'd expect, most critics dismissed the bearded dude as a passing novelty. But what they don't understand is that this 28-year-old (born Paul Miller) has the chops necessary for a pop-music career.

Matisyahu's music is thoroughly connected to his religion. When onstage, performing songs like "Jerusalem" and "King Without a Crown," he sports a Hasidic's traditional hat and suit while busting complex dance moves, rapping double time, and beat-boxing.

He also obeys his faith by shying away from physical contact with female fans, most of whom come from the music/jam band world.

Matisyahu does not, however, shy away from cover tunes. He has recorded versions of the Police's "Message in a Bottle" and John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels," which appeared on last year's Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur CD.

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