Church Avenue Sessions




*A Monthly Music Series in Kensington, Brooklyn*

       at  Flatbush Jewish Center

327 East 5th Street (@ Church Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11218

Wednesday, April 24th at 7:30pm


Tim Sparks & Sandcatchters

Tim Sparks: acoustic guitar

Michael Bates (bass), Myk Freedman (lap steel), Yoshie Fruchter (oud), Shai Wetzer (drums/percussion)

Debut LP What We Found along the Way (Chant Records) out now
Album trailer

Tim Sparks’ long journey to the 1993 National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, and beyond, began modestly in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when he started picking out tunes by ear on an old Stella flat top. He was given his first guitar when a bout of encephalitis kept him out of school for a year, and the music he heard around him was traditional country blues, and the gospel his grandmother played on piano in a small church in the Blue Ridge mountains, so that’s what he taught himself to play.

A musically-astute uncle heard him one day, and amazed that he had come so far on his own, nominated him for a scholarship at the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts. There he studied the classics with Segovia protegee Jesus Silva, while continuing to play all kinds of music, increasingly turning to classic jazz for inspiration. He adapted compositions by Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, and Fats Waller to the guitar, frequently reducing piano arrangements to their spare essence. Early influences were Doc Watson, Arthur Smith and, most importantly, Duck Baker, who opened up an horizon of possibilities for fingerstyle guitar. He has also had a years long collaboration with John Zorn, interpreting many tunes from Zorn’s Masada songbooks for solo acoustic guitar and with ensembles.

Described by WNYC New Sounds as a “convincing blend of near Eastern and Americana,” Brooklyn quartet Sandcatchers is led by experimental guitarist and composer Yoshie Fruchter (John Zorn’s Tzadik Records), with Michael Bates, an accomplished jazz bassist with a punk rock background, Myk Freedman, a pioneer of modern lap steel music, and Israeli drummer / percussionist Shai Wetzer.

The name Sandcatchers – “catching sand” – references something of an impossibility. “I like the idea that this band is always searching, never satisfied,” says Fruchter, who studies oud with virtuoso Ara Dinkjian. “Each member of the band is deeply inspired by history and tradition of their chosen instrument but even more driven to turn that inspiration into something new.”

Catch them in a special collaboration with Tim Sparks at Church Avenue Sessions, a Brooklyn series focused on forward thinking music of all genres on Wednesday, April 24 at 7:30pm in support of their debut LP What We Found along the Way (Chant Records).



A monthly music series has sprung up in Kensington, Brooklyn called Church Avenue Sessions.  Founded by guitarist and composer Yoshie Fruchter and hosted by the Flatbush Jewish Center, the series is focused on showcasing the amazing artistry of Brooklyn based musicians, regardless of genre.  All ages are welcome! As a recent transplant to Kensington from Prospect Heights, Yoshie was inspired to start CAS from other peers who have run music series’ in synagogues around the city, including The Sixth Street Synagogue in the East Village, Kane Street synagogue in Cobble Hill, Temple Beth Emeth in Ditmas Park, and the Stephen Wise synagogue on the upper west side.

As community spaces, synagogues are many ways perfect venues to present art and music, and Flatbush Jewish Center is no exception.  With a beautiful and spacious sanctuary, and a downstairs event room, there is opportunity to present both sensitive acoustic music, as well as bands that utilize drums and electric instruments.

Flatbush Jewish Center (FJC) is a Conservative synagogue offering programming and services for families, adults, and children. We serve the Windsor Terrace and Kensington, Brooklyn communities and offer traditional egalitarian services.

Yoshie Fruchter is a guitar, bass, oud player and composer whose band, Pitom (Tzadik Records), has received critical acclaim from JazzTimes magazine, the Wall Street Journal and Guitar Player Magazine, among others.  The unique blend of rock, jazz, experimental and jewish styles in his playing and composing is a defining characteristic of his music.  He has toured the US and Europe with Pitom and other groups, playing the Atlantique Jazz Festival in France, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, Saalfelden Jazz Festival in Austria and others.  He recently released a record of post-rock arrangements of old cantorial recordings entitled Schizophonia, and leads a new project called Sandcatchers featuring oud, lap steel and cello. In addition, Yoshie is a sought-after freelance musician in New York City in bands ranging in style from acoustic world music to heavy metal and has performed with John Zorn, Cyro Baptista and Frank London, among many others.

We are fortunate to have Yoshie and his family as members of Flatbush Jewish Center and our Kensington community at large! Please come join us!

Stay tuned for the schedule of upcoming performances!


Upcoming Performances