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Original folk: Duo plays music to benefit a program that helps homeless families

Rabbi Joe Black, formerly of Albuquerque, returns for a benefit concert on Sunday.

Rabbi Joe Black, formerly of Albuquerque, returns for a benefit concert on Sunday.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Rabbi Joe Black is returning to Albuquerque in his other public role – as musician.

Black, who is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Denver, previously was the rabbi at Albuquerque’s Congregation Albert for more than 14 years. He also was known in the community for his musicianship as a singer, guitarist and composer.

Black will perform in a benefit concert on Sunday, Nov. 17 at Congregation Albert. He’ll be joined by Sandra Wong, a Boulder, Colo., resident.


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“She’s a master of violin and nyckelharpa,” Black said. “Her virtuosity takes the music to another level.”

The nyckelharpa is a traditional Swedish string instrument.

Since leaving Albuquerque for Denver three and a half years ago, Black said, he’s written a lot of new music and has been exploring new musical motifs.

Because of the demands of his current congregation, he has not been performing out of town as much as he used to.

“However, I continue to play. … Do performances in the Denver acoustic and folk music scene,” Black said.

Sunday’s concert, he said, is not going to be strictly Jewish music.

“We’ll do mostly my original music, some fun things, and some of Sandra’s tunes,” he said.

The concert is a benefit for Family Promise of Albuquerque, which, Black said, had been known as the Interfaith Hospitality Network. Congregation Albert works with Family Promise, which provides shelter, meals and other support for homeless families.

“Family Promise provides social work, job help, child care so families can work on getting out of homelessness,” he said.

“I brought Family Promise to Albert,” Black said. “I did so because, one, I started to believe in the organization and, two, because I hoped that it would have a galvanizing effect on the congregation.”