Some pics from CT Folkfest 

We had a blast this past weekend playing at CT Folkfest in New Haven's Edgerton Park. It was our first time playing at a folk festival and we don't know why we haven't done it sooner. What we play, at some level, is a form of folk jazz. Much of the music that we don't compose comes from the Jewish and African American folk traditions. If you know of any folk festivals where we should be playing please let us know. 

In the meantime, enjoy these terrific photos, all taken by our friend, photographer Gary Hochman. 

This is a great photo of Saskia Laroo and one of our favorite dancers, Eric Triffin


Live in Florence Italy 

Warren, David, and Saskia performed on June 29 at the Balagan Festival in Florence, Italy.  The concert took place on the steps of the Great Synagogue of Florence.  It was a good sized and very lively audience.

Here's a video of the group performing Unity in the Community:






Baba David Coleman 

Baba David Coleman, drummer, teacher, priest, and founding member of the Afro-Semitic Experience is suffering from stage IV cancer that has spread throughout his body. 

He is being cared for by his family in Ohio.  

They don’t have the financial resources to cover his medical expenses or even his day-to-day expenses.  If you can help, your generosity will be greatly appreciated. Over the years many of you have been touched by Baba David's loving spirit and he has brought his love to so many around the world. This is truly his moment of need. 

 Here is the link for the Go Fund Me page to support Baba David Coleman: 

MLK 2021: the year we streamed it all 

Like so many other musical groups, we have been without performances for much of the pandemic.  We had a few moments here and there, such as our performance of Letters from the Affair at the Providence Fringe in the summer or this collaboration on the Hassidic Kaddish with our friend, Cantor Erik Contzius this past fall: 

That changed for us for a couple of weeks as found ourselves, for a short while, with a busy January.  So busy, in fact, that on January 15, the Friday evening of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, we managed to virtually participate in seven services and concerts.   Here are some links to some samples of that evening. 

We prerecorded our part for a service services at Congregation Beth Ahabah in Richmond Virginia.  And then Cantor Sarah Beck Berman recorded herself into the group.  It’s a beautiful service that you can find here: 

We prerecorded music for the entire MLK service for Congregation Mishkan Israel Hamden, together with Cantor Arthur Giglio. The service can be found on the synagogue’s Livestream page in two parts.  If you search on the livestream page for January 15 you will be able to hear us on the streams for Kabbalat Shabbat Services and the CMI MLK service Livestream — Congregation Mishkan Israel ( 

Meanwhile, at the MLK service at Temple Beth El of Great Neck, Cantor Adam Davis sang along live with our prerecorded videos of the service. 

And we also recorded a concert for Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley our concert and our conversation with members of the synagogue can be heard here: 

Shabbat Shirah is the Sabbath observed every year that marks the reading of the Torah portion in which the Hebrew slaves cross the Red Sea and become a free people. After the crossing the newly freed Hebrews sang two songs of gratitude and freedom. While many people rightly think of Passover as the essential Jewish holiday for the celebration of freedom this is another moment in the year when we celebrate freedom, and it is a Sabbath that emphasizes celebration through music and song. This year, for Shabbat Shirah, on January 29, band cofounders Warren Byrd and David Chevan went to a studio where they played a Friday night service, accompanying Cantor Meredith Greenberg for Temple Ner Tamid. After the service David and Warren played a bit more and spoke with the cantor about their music:

Ohio trip newsletter 

To all our friends and fans in Ohio, 

It’s been quite a few years since we were last anywhere in your state.  

That’s about to change. 

We will be in your state next week for four performances!! 

We’re coming to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

And we will be celebrating our 22nd anniversary!! 

Hope you can come to one or more of these performances.  If we aren’t going to be near you, can you please share our info with your friends and family who are going to be near us.  Here we are 22 years into our story and we still rely mostly on word of mouth to bring out our audiences. 


Here’s our itinerary: 

On Thursday, January 16, at 6 pm, we’re playing a concert at Youngstown State University.  Public is welcome to attend this event.  We’re playing in the Chestnut Room, in the Kilcawley Center, at Youngstown State University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, OH.  Here’s a link to the Facebook event for the concert: 

On Friday, January 17, we’re playing a concert at 6:30 pm and an interfaith MLK service at 7:30 

At Temple Israel, 432 30th Street, NW, Canton, OH 

We have a special preservice concert planned as this will be the anniversary of our very first performance 22 years ago. 

Then, on Saturday, January 18 we drive to the other side of the state for a 7:30 pm concert at the First Unitarian Church of Toledo, 3205 Glendale Ave., Toledo OH 43614-2423.  We’ve been playing in Toledo since the 1990s, but this will be our first concert there in over 8 years!!  Here’s a link to the Facebook event page for the concert: 

Finally, on Sunday, January 19 we will be in Cleveland for a 10 am – 1 pm workshop and concert, at Beth Israel - The West Temple, 14308 Triskett Road, Cleveland, OH 44111, 216-941-8882. This will be our third visit to Beth Israel—The West Temple.  They’ve always opened their doors to us and we are very exited to come back to share our music on MLK weekend and our 22nd anniversary weekend.  I’ve seen some posts for this on Facebook, but I don’t have any links. Please help us to get the word out to the community!! 

We’re looking forward to these four days of music and Unity in the Community.  Hope to see you at one of these performances. 

Àse and Shalom, 

Alvin, David, Jocelyn, Saskia, Warren, and Will

MLK 2017  

To all of our friends and fans we wish you a Happy 2017,
Next weekend we honor the legacy and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.  We also celebrate the 19th anniversary of our first performance.  And we are grateful to have three events coming up in the coming week where we will be doing just that.  We’re playing in Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Commack, Long Island.
We begin the weekend on Friday, January 13 with a Sabbath service and Sermon in Song at Temple Sinai in Washington, DC. The service begins at 7:00 p.m.  After the service, we will be playing a full-length set, our sermon in song, to honor Dr. King. The address for Temple Sinai is Sinai, 3100 Military Road NW, Washington, DC 20015.
The next morning, on Saturday, January 14, we are traveling to Baltimore where we will be playing a Sabbath morning service at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. The service starts at 10 am and the address for the synagogue is 7401 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21208. We’ll also be playing a short set to honor Dr. King at this service. For more info please visit their web site:
Finally, we travel on Sunday, January 15, to Commack Long Island where we are playing a concert to honor Dr. King at the Suffolk Y JCC at 7:00 pm. The address for the Suffolk Y JCC is 74 Hauppauge Road, Commack, NY 11725. For more info about this event:
Here’s a link to get tickets for that event:
Coming up in February:
On Sunday, February 5, we are playing in Hartford at the Hartford Public Library as a part of their Baby Grand Jazz Series. That concert is from 3-4 p.m. For more about the concert and that series here’s a link to the HPL website:
As we begin our 19thyear we see and hear so much that tells us that our message of Unity in the Community is still resonant and relevant.  We love hearing from our friends on Facebook(if you're on Facebook please like us!) and at our web site.  We hope to bring our music to more places where it is needed and desired.  And we hope that brings us near enough to see you!!!  If you have any friends or family near where we are playing please forward this message to them and encourage them to check us out--as we find that word of mouth is what works best when you are a grassroots ensemble.
Àse and Shalom,
Warren, David, Abu, Alvin, Saskia, Stacy, and Will
The Afro-Semitic Experience
We merge our musical roots, Jewish and Afro-diasporic melodies and grooves, combining the core concepts of àse and shalom- power, action, unity, and peace. 

At Eldridge Street  

Last Sunday several band members were invited to accompany Cantor Jack Mendelson at a baby naming. Jack was in great voice and we all had fun making music together.

Here are some candid shots from the day.
Jesse Chevan
Will Bartlett

Warren Byrd

cantor Jack Mendelson with mom, dad, and baby Isabella

David and Jesse Chevan


The Afro-Semitic Experience is saddened by the events in Ferguson, Missouri. We mourn the killing of Michael Brown and we are troubled by the violence that has been inflicted upon the community.  We are reminded once again that the Civil Rights movement is far from over and that this nation is in need of an ongoing dialogue on race, bigotry and unity in the community.  As musicians there is only so much we can do.  But do it we shall.  We are healers. And so we share this link to a piece dedicated to healing. Healing in Ferguson. Healing in the United States of America.  Healing wherever there is strife of any kind. Plea for Peace.