The JCC of Greater Washington is spicing up the 46th annual Lessans Family Book Festival with a rock ’n’ roll-themed Nov. 5 opening-night event at the new music venue AMP.
Liel Leibovitz will be discussing his new book A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen. Following him onstage at the Strathmore-operated concert and dining location in the Pike & Rose urban district along Rockville Pike will be musician and record producer Steve Katz, who was a founding member of the rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears and produced albums for legendary rock singer Lou Reed.
“He is doing a whole VH1 Storytellers kind of vibe book talk and then also performing, so it’s bringing in a different element of storytelling,” JCCGW Director of Arts and Culture Jennifer Smith said of Katz, whose new book is titled Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ Roll Years: Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?.
“What I really tried to think about when I was planning the festival is the whole element of storytelling,” continued Smith. “We tell stories in so many different ways. And traditionally this has been a literary festival — but how do we tell stories through music? How do we tell stories through art? How do we tell stories through theater?”
The festival will feature an original theater day on Nov. 8, with the Helen Hayes Award-winning local theater company Flying V presenting a collection of plays inspired by indie rock music; a free screening on Nov. 10 of the movie Sholom Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness; and a day of stories from Israel on Nov. 11, with author Dan Ephron talking about his new book Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel; and author Dion Nissenbaum discussing his new book A Street Divided: Stories From Jerusalem’s Alley of God.
Smith said she is proud of the second annual Veterans Day programming. The Nov. 12 events will feature Lee Mandel, author of Unlikely Warrior: A Pacifist Rabbi’s Journey from the Pulpit to Iwo Jima, along with a performance by members of the Air Force Band.
The book club brunch is typically the biggest and most popular event at the festival, according to Smith. She said that the brunch draws in readers who normally might not be interested in a topic and is an example of successful universal programming.
This year, on Nov. 13, the brunch will feature author Mary Morris discussing her book Jazz Palace, about Chicago during the Jazz Age.
Said Smith: “They come and they are engaged, and it’s just a fantastic program despite any kind of cultural differences.”
The Lessans Family Annual Book Festival runs through Nov. 15. For schedule and ticket information, visit the festival website at jccgw.org/the-lessans-family-annual-book-festival.