Make us your home page

Matisyahu talks about Purim party at Tampa Theatre

For most rock stars, an after-party involves guzzling bottles of Hennessy behind a well-guarded velvet rope.

For reggae singer and rapper Matisyahu, it's a Purim spread.

The soulful artist born Matthew Miller will bring his acoustic tour to the Tampa Theatre on Saturday, the same night the Jewish holiday begins at sundown. Though Matisyahu shocked fans in 2011 by shaving his iconic beard and saying he was no longer Hasidic, he still identifies as Jewish and explores spiritual themes in his music.

Purim is a celebratory holiday — it commemorates the bravery of Esther, Queen of Persia, who prevented the genocide of thousands of Jews — so his Jewish fans, at least, should be in a partying mood.

"I don't know how crazy it'll get, and how much I'll be able to be there and enjoy myself without feeling too picked-apart," Matisyahu said by phone from Annapolis, Md. "Hopefully everyone will just be having a good time and I'll be able to relax and enjoy myself also."

In our conversation, Matisyahu discussed his Purim plans, his beard and more. Here are excerpts.

I'm not Jewish, and I've never celebrated Purim, but it's a pretty good-natured and celebratory occasion, right? Is this the first time you've held an after-party like this?

Yeah, I guess it's one of the first official after-parties I've done. We knew we wanted to do something for Purim, so it just seemed like a good idea.

Is it open to non-Jewish fans as well?

Oh, of course. Yeah. For everybody.

So what should I know if I go?

Well, a lot of times people dress up in costumes. That's part of the idea of Purim. And they might read from the Megillah, which is the scroll, the story of Purim. And when they do that, whenever they mention Haman's name — the evil guy — everybody screams and they make a lot of noise. So if you hear people doing that, don't get self-conscious. It's not you.

Will you wear a costume?

I'm not sure yet. I haven't decided.

Do you typically wear one?

I don't usually wear a costume. Sometimes if I'm going out with my kids or something, I will.

Is it the sort of thing where people might show up dressed as, say, you?

Oh, yeah. I have that happen a lot. It's really something that I'll just see from the stage. I'll see some people dressed up like me. Although now it'll be harder to make themselves look like me. It's not so obvious who I look like, I guess.

Has shaving changed how your Jewish fans see or treat you?

I don't think all the fans, but some of them. I would say the majority of the Jewish fans that I have are not necessarily religious; they connect with my music, and one of the elements they might connect with is the Jewish element. But there were some fans that I had which were based primarily on the fact that I was representative for the population, and once I shaved, I guess some of those fans might have felt betrayed a little bit.

What about non-Jews? Has that changed the way that they've interacted with you?

Yeah, they're more relaxed and understanding about that element. A lot of times, it also depends not as much whether they're Jewish or not, but their history with religion. Some fans have grown up in religious houses and moved away from it, to have somewhat of an understanding of what that's about.

If you put aside matters of spirituality for a second, what was it like to be clean-shaven for the first time?

It felt fine. There's no real way to describe it. I felt naked, to some degree.


The singer performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. Tickets are $38.50-$58.50. The Purim after-party follows the concert; tickets are $22 and must be purchased with a concert ticket at For info, call (813) 274-8981.

Matisyahu talks about Purim party at Tampa Theatre 02/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 3:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What to expect from the Florida Orchestra's 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' show


    With just a few short tings from the celesta, a small piano-style instrument, and you're instantly transported to Harry Potter's wizarding world.

    Courtesy of the Straz Center
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 27


    Sleeping With Sirens: The alt-hardcore outfit tour in support of their album, Gossip. 6 p.m., The Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Start at $22. (813) 248-9500.

    Handout photo of Sleeping With Sirens, performing 9/27/17 at the Orpheum in Tampa. Credit: Chris Sullivan
  3. Shriek peek: Top haunted events lurking this Halloween season


    Here are some of the top Halloween events and parties that are looming in the coming scary season.

    “Thriller” music video featuring Michael Jackson with Vincent Price and Ola Ray. Scary movie comes true on a date, while Michael and zombies dance. ?? 1983 Optimum Productions Songwriter: Rod Temperton Album: Thriller Director: John Landis Production Dates: Late 1983 Primary Production Location: Los Angeles, CA.
  4. Halloween season is upon us: Our top 5 wild and mild haunted attractions


    Halloween has become a profitable scare season oozing well into September and past November. That means more time to meet grim, grinning ghosts, get your pants scared off by nightmarish clowns and fill your treat bags to the brim.

    Scare actors roam the grounds of Busch Gardens in Tampa during their annual Howl-O-Scream Halloween themed event. Howl-O-Scream continues on select nights through Oct. 29 at the Tampa theme park. Howl-O-Scream is a separate ticket event and has seven haunted houses, five scare zones and the chance to ride coasters in the dark. [Friday, September 22, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  5. Wine of the week: Leese-Fitch 2015 California Sauvignon Blanc will cool you off

    Bars & Spirits

    September is still summertime in Florida, and we can still use a cool white wine at the end of a hot day.