Thursday, the day that was yesterday (and the last day of my trip), revolved around one special event: the Jerusalem Woodstock Revival. The fourth one as of yet, these revivals have attracted local musicians who have great interest in the music of those days. On the evening’s program seven acts were listed, covers ranging from Neil Young to Jimi Hendrix to The Grateful Dead. As soon as I successfully managed to find the Kraft Stadium, the venue, I found that I wasn’t late as I suspected but that the performances were just beginning.
Up first was Maya Johanna Menachem with Shai Tochner and friends. Performing a range of songs from the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and others, Maya sang and Shai strummed (occassionaly also treating us to simultaneous guitar and harmonica music). Sadly, many of the songs that she sang were unknown to me so I couldn’t tap my feet along. I guess it is my fault for having neglected these musical masterpieces, the hits of the 60s and 70s. Regardless of the lyrical content, Maya has a great voice and it was a really good, low-key opening act – as a teaser to open the eardrums for the heavier rock yet to come.
It was during the first act that the place began to fill. I was surprised at the diversity of the attending crowd; from the old people who may have actually been at the original Woodstock, to the young adults who grew up listening to this music and the children who mostly came for the activies, picnics and social camaraderie. It was a great blend, something that really made it interesting.
As the crowd grew, and I was closed in on all sides, the sun’s daily setting procedure began to quicken in our eyes and the shadows grew long over the stage. Michael Greilsammer came onto the stage with his band members and began to belt out some Led Zeppelin. Starting with the raucous song “Black Dog” I began to actually “come alive” with the music. Listening to the original version now as I write, I must say that Michael was great, his voice seemed really well-trained in the exact vocal nuances that made his cover seem so authentic.
When Greilsammer was done, the crowd roared in cheer and someone announced that this was the first Led Zeppelin concert they have ever been to – possibly the greatest compliment one can give to a cover band. Following Michael’s enthralling performance was the biggest star of the evening, Geva Alon. Having played at the first Jerusalem Woodstock Revival, Geva was more than welcome to come treat the crowd with his covers of select Neil Young hits. I know very little of Neil Young’s work but I could appreciate the solo effort Geva made as he entertained the crowd on his lonesome. I really enjoyed his guitar riffs, done on a plugged-in acoustic.
During Geva’s performance I had the brilliant idea of getting my program sheet autographed by the performing artists. I confronted Maya first and she was more than happy to sign her name. Michael has already gone so there was only Geva left and he was still onstage…
When Geva was done he was also pleased to add his name (it is more like a scrawl than a legible name) to my proffered paper. After Geva’s signature I actually abandoned my quest in getting more signatures but at least I got two! Maybe one day it’ll be worth something…
Getting back to the festivities, the fourth act was The Elevators playing Grateful Dead music. Now, I know Grateful Dead but I didn’t know the music that I heard – and I am not really sure why not. With an indifference to my poor association skills regarding oldies, the crowd seemed to really liven up and the inner Deadhead seemed to come out of scores of hopping/dancing people. Photographs of crowds never come out good for me, but here you can see some excitement is involved:
The Elevators gave a long performance and the crowd didn’t seem to tire a bit. With a half circle formed around the stage several people thick, the barefooted revellers swayed and hopped and swung themselves around languidly. I guess the large quantity of cold beer that seemed to flow like water must have helped fuel the dancing stamina…
When The Elevators reluctantly stepped down, the next band was announced: Crystal Ship. Named after one of The Doors’ songs, Crystal Ship was set out to cover none other than The Doors. Since my knowledge of The Doors is about as it as it is with Neil Young, I wasn’t tapping my feet along with the rhythm. But, other people did find themselves aligned with the music – throughout the concert I saw countless attendees just bobbing their heads lightly to the music, their eyes squeezed shut and their lips mouthing the lyrics along. I’m not that guy at the concert – I’m a listener. But, sadly, I couldn’t stay and listen forever – I had to get back to Tel Aviv and I wasn’t ready to wing it with the night-time bus routes.
I stayed for two songs from Crystal Ship and then reluctantly made my way out of the stadium. One thing that I didn’t mention before, simply because I don’t remember at what point in the concert it happened, was that I bumped into an Israeli guy who I met some two or three months ago on a bus headed for Meron. I was on a trip in either Tzfat or the Kinneret area (there is a blog post about it in the archives) and he was with his friends getting ready to hike Mount Meron. When I asked him if he’s been hiking there lately, it dawned on him and we both had a good time recalling that interesting bus ride. Such a small world!
Unfortunately for me, I was unable to hear all seven acts of this year’s Jerusalem Woodstock Revival. I missed half of the Crystal Ship act and then two full ones: Libi and the Flashback (playing Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin) and Ummagumma (playing Pink Floyd). I would have liked to see those… Perhaps at Woodstock Revival V or VI, or maybe VII, when I am out of the army. Until then, I’ll be forced to listen to recorded 60s/70s music.
Thus concludes my four-day trip “down south”, I hope you enjoyed the daily accounts.