Portrait of three men with instruments
Avourneen is performing on May 2 as part of the JCC Denver’s Neustadt Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music Series.  Credit: Courtesy of Marla Keown

It seems appropriate that Adam Goldstein and his band, Avourneen – which specializes in Irish and Klezmer music – will close out the 16th season of the Neustadt Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music Series (JAAMM).

After all, his family has long ties to the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center, commonly known as the JCC Denver. It was a 15-minute walk from Adam’s father’s childhood home, and the indoor pool is named after Jerry Goldstein, whose brother is Adam’s grandfather. 

“On my paternal side, the Goldsteins go back seven generations in Denver,” said Goldstein, 44, who plays the guitar, bouzouki, Irish banjo, tin whistle and harmonica.

Goldstein formed Avourneen – which is an Irish Gaelic term of affection – about 10 years ago, and the band has a busy performance schedule. His bandmates are Cieran Mordon on fiddle and Alice Alister on bass.

Their repertoire includes Klezmer music, Irish music, ballads, folk instruments, contra dancing and Bob Dylan songs. Avourneen’s May 2 gig is dubbed the JCC Denver Backyard Summer Kickoff.

This year’s JAAMM will present a provocative and interesting mix of book authors, films, a comedy show, concerts and more. 

Among the JAAMM appearances that JCC Denver CEO Mike Sophir touts are cooking author Dini Klein of Prep + Rally, “An Hour of Prep, A Week of Delicious Meals,” on Oct. 9; author Tom Shanker, “Age of Danger: Keeping America Safe in an Era of New Superpowers,” on Oct. 11; and The Braid presenting “True Colors,” on Oct. 25. 

“I’m really intrigued by Dini Kline, because I’m a great example of someone (who’s) so tired that at night, I don’t have time to make dinner,” Sophir said.

There’s also the Jewish Book Sale from Oct. 9-13, which is in partnership with the Jewish Book Council and the Tattered Cover Book Store. Sophir is a big fan.

“(We’re) in a fast-paced world and everybody wants to jump online,” Sophir said. “The opportunity to settle down with a good book, sit back and read for a while” is a happy alternative.

Building JAAMM is “a process of discovery,” Sophir said. 

“You want to show variety every year and try not to repeat things too often,” Sophir said. “It takes many months to move through the possibilities (and) make sure we have a balance so not everything seems the same.”

Sophir stressed that JAAMM wouldn’t be possible without the strong backing of Kathleen Neustadt, who in 2014 established an endowment to provide general operating support for JAAMM in perpetuity. She is a strong supporter of the JCC Denver.

“We feel really lucky that we have a program and a series that has longevity,” Sophir said. “It says a lot about the interest level of the community, and the significance of the model, arts, authors and music under one umbrella.”

The 16th season of the Neustadt Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music Series (JAAMM) began Sept. 27 and runs through May 2. Most events take place at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center (JCC Denver), 350 S. Dahlia St. in Denver. Tickets range from $18 to $84. A full performance schedule can be found at jccdenver.org/jaamm. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Mizel Arts and Culture Center Box Office at 303-316-6360.

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