Thursday, July 14, 2011

Feeling Groovy in Jerusalem

The mood was definitely groovy down in Jerusalem's American Football stadium tonight.

Groovy, but a bit gevaltik too. I have a hunch there was way more Barukh Hasheming (thank God) going on than at most other Woodstock revival events.

That, and at least half, maybe more, of the audience was wearing some kind of religious headgear. The hippie thing really can mesh wonderfully with modest clothing, long floaty Indian skirts topped off with vibrant tie-dye headscarves was just meant to be, and I've always thought there was something a little counter culture about otherwise straight laced guys wearing ethnically patterned handcrocheted skullcaps.

Somewhere between covers of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" and Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from my Friends" local act Libi and the Flash included their version of Psalm 121 (in Hebrew), itself a cover of Israeli world music sensation Sheva's hit song.

So yes, you could certainly feel the Jerusalem in the Woodstock, and maybe that detracted a bit from the "authenticity" of the event (that and there was astroturf instead of mud) but if you ask me that was the beauty of it. As a religious Jewish mother no way would I have taken my kids to any other Woodstock type event. Just no. Not part of my lifestyle or my family's lifestyle, no matter how much my mother loved the music and the fun clothing.

There were some wonderful local acts performing the songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cream and Jefferson Airplane. If I shut my eyes I could have been listening to my mother's record collection, or these days, my iPod playlist.

The standout performance was the tribute to Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin by up and coming young Israeli singer Yael Deckelbaum. What a voice. What perfect channelling of her musical mentors. It will be interesting to see what she does on her upcoming Hebrew language album.

There was a small crowd of folks dancing up by the stage, and there was beer for sale, courtesy of Jem, one of Israel's highly praised new boutique breweries, a co-sponsor of the event. It was all remarkably civilised though. I didn't see anyone drunk or lewd or just acting in a way I wouldn't want my little kids to see. As one lady I chatted to said "it's Woodstock made almost kosher". Even Led Zeppelin's "Gonna Give you my Love".

The crowd were warm, enthusiastic, friendly and just overwhelmingly happy.  My little guy wandered merrily around dancing and smiling at folks, introducing himself, spinning, stomping, waving and clapping energetically to the music.

At the small assortment of craft and knick knack stalls a purveyor of juggling equipment had set up a table of second hand equipment festival goers were invited to borrow and play with during the event - hula hoops, juggling batons, flower sticks, poi balls and more.

It was a brilliant idea. Kids and grown-ups alike were happily twirling batons and playing catch with the balls all evening. There were some incredibly impressive hula hoop displays too. And at concert's end all the items had been returned to the table.

Groovy evening in Jerusalem. Could a Woodstock revival be anything but?

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