When City Winery Philadelphia, along with seven other live venues in the chain around the country, opens its doors to Israeli-born songwriter, singer and guitarist David Broza and his 25th annual “Not Exactly Christmas Show” on December 23, it is happily riding the coattails of a gorgeous tradition.
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This season, other holiday programs will come and be merry and bright. Yes, but Broza’s will remain the most intense. For historical perspective, consider its roots. Going back to 1995 when David Broza booked a gig in New York City on what was the same date, tragically, that Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv.
Broza canceled that show, but kept the theatre doors open for anyone who wanted to come inside, talk, cry, read poetry, sing together and share in collective grieving. This might not sound festive, but it was however joyful and cathartic that so many New Yorkers dedicated to men of peace, like Rabin, like Broza, wanted to be united and be together in such a sad, horrific time. Being that the Broza date, still had to be rescheduled, at such a late date, the only available night was December 24, 1995, the first “Not Exactly Christmas Show”. For New Yorkers, this has been a supreme and healing holy treat. One that, throughout the years, has changed its venues from Town Hall to 92nd Street YMCA. To Symphony Space to the Streicker Center.
Now, due to Covid, Broza and his all-Cuban ensemble cannot appear live in NYC. What he can do, however, is appear live and virtually across the country while spreading the wealth of ticket money to local venues hurting for cash while being closed during a pandemic, along with his band. So now, while promoting his latest album, EN CASA LIMÓN, Broza & Co. ring in the holidays with their own folksy, jazzy brand of Israeli-Latin-New American jam. EN CASA LIMÓN is his first all-instrumental guitar album where Broza got to actually play legendary six-stringer Paco de Lucia’s guitars, instruments that went untouched since de Lucia passed away in 2014.
“I can’t believe it myself that I’ve been doing this one show for 25 years,” said Broza during a Stageyard conversation. “Annually, I do about 200 plus shows a year. Then suddenly I’m home. Done. That said, I have developed some anchor performances that I do every year that ground me. Like the Masada sunrise shows in the desert. And this Christmas show. What’s good about doing the stream, as opposed to being live, is that there is no curfew. I could just go with it. My first streaming show that I did during Covid was four hours long. I just kept going. And I did get comments from people like, “Hey, I was watching you, and fell asleep. And as soon as I woke up, you were still there.”
Philly audiences will love it if David Broza goes for four hours. Trust me. I have witnessed his live performances many times throughout the years. Each one is better than the last.
“What the streaming does is give me an opportunity to make it as personal as this conversation between you and I are. Something intimate. I’m trying to establish streaming as an integral art form in order to pay our partners, sound guys, musicians, and such. We’re also trying to get some money in the pockets of venues and theaters. It’s like my t-shirt for the show reads, ‘One Night, Fifteen venues and theaters. Near you.'”