Tuba Skinny cancels show at jazz festival in Israel

Tuba Skinny, a traditional jazz and blues band from New Orleans, planned to perform at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel on 21 August. The international campaign “Don’t Play Apartheid Israel,” and the Israeli group “Boycott From Within” approached Tuba Skinny with the request to honor PACBI’s call for a cultural boycott of Israel.

One week before the show, Tuba Skinny received an open letter with information about the cultural boycott of Israel:

Jazz festivals take place every summer all over the world, and New Orleans jazz bands are in high demand. Jazz music is loved the world over, so why would it be considered inhumane to play at a Jazz festival?

In the case of the Red Sea Jazz Festival, music takes on a very political role, because of the well-known global BDS movement. The PACBI, (Palestinian Call for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) has, since 2005, asked musicians to refrain from playing in Israel, and their call, representing Palestinian Civil Society, has become a global movement.

Thus, when a band, like Tuba Skinny, agrees to play in Israel, and break the picket line, it becomes very political.

Tuba Skinny announced the cancelation of their show in Eilat on their website.

The group has joined the picket line of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, The Pixies, the late Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, Pete Seeger, Massive Attack, Faithless, Gorillaz Sound System, The Tindersticks and the Klaxxons.






A wonderful band that stands up for its principles. Loved the way the horse drawn vehicle's need to pass takes precedence over the concert performance. Well done Tuba Skinny and thanks. Much too good for Eilat.


They cancelled out of fear. People are getting murdered in Eilat, as you may have heard!


Tuba Skinny took a conscientious decision to cancel the show in Eilat. More artists will refuse to play in Israel. The harsh attacks by the Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip over the past four days will increase the global for the BDS movement.


This is a very problematic article! The statement they issued said they had cancelled following the terrorist attack on Thursday, as a result of safety and security concerns. They did not indicate that BDS was even the smallest of factors in their decision to cancel. Please do not circulate false stories -- now only does it not help the BDS movement, it actually severely hurts and undermines its credibility.


I find it important to report in a truthful manner. The information I received from the groups who were in touch with Tuba Skinny clearly showed the concerns of the band.

After reading your comment, I found the following information on Mondoweis:

"Update: Commenter Eljay directed me to Tuba Skinny's facebook page, where singer Erika Lewis wrote on Friday:
In light of the violence in Eilat and the surrounding region, Tuba SKinny will not be performing at The Red Sea Jazz Festival. We are sorry to miss all of you who might be there, and we hope to be able to return at a more peaceful time."

I trust the BDS groups will stay in touch with Tuba Skinny.



This comment makes some valid points. Where is the honour in 'doing the right thing' only because your back is 'up against the wall' and you had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it? It's true that when an artist cancels a performance, but fails to give a clear explanation why- it can and will ( with the help of the pro - israeli lobby)
be seen as intimidation by BDS pressure groups, which does not help the movement one little bit.


I appreciate your quick response. Should someone tell PACBI that their original press release needs to be updated/corrected? Unfortunately, this isn't the first time PACBI has put the horse before the cart, and I do worry that it's starting to feel like a pattern. In at least two other cases that I know of, bands/artists - most recently Pete Seeger - felt that PACBI had unfairly attributed motives to them, and actually ended up backlashing against the boycott movement. This, alongside the hampshire college debacle and the motorola bds hoax, does not look great. Not to mention that this is no way to build alliances and win a campaign!


It is hard to communicate with someone who is not prepared to give his or her name. This is the last time I am prepared to do so.

I recommend that you read the text I posted carefully. I notice that you jump quickly to conclusions. PACBI's call for a cultural boycott offers a solid framework for the BDS movement, also in this case. However, I based my posting on information I received from the two groups I have mentioned in my blog. You are quick with your accusations against PACBI .

In addition, in a brief message on Facebook, the band expressed its concern about "the violence in Eilat and the surrounding region." May I remind you that this includes the violence of the Israeli forces against the population in Gaza. When the BDS activists informed Tuba Skinny about Israel's violent response to the attacks on Eilat, they responded, "We got it. It is insupportable whats happening there. trying to change our tickets now."


Tuba Skinny is a band containing 6 members, they are very much a small-time band though. They often play on streetcorners, wherever they travel to. They are not used of all this media attention. Please consider that some of the bands' members may disagree with other members. It is quite obvious that this has unfortunately happened. One thing is for sure, Tubs Skinny was asked to cancel, by people who care about Palestine. These people, feel BDS is an effective way to shut down apartheid. That the Israeli/Zionist press has paid so much attention to this means BDS really is effective. Also, had the BDS movement NOT asked them to cancel, then they probably would have still gone to play.
So, a huge thanks is on order to the band, for not playing for apartheid.


It is great to hear of conscientious artists taking a stand against apartheid. It takes courage to stand against tyranny. We thank you.

Adri Nieuwhof

Adri Nieuwhof's picture

Adri Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate based in the Netherlands and former anti-apartheid activist at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. Twitter: @steketeh