16 March 2015

Exclusive Pics: Electric Desert live at the Sounds of the Old City music festival, 11 March 2015

Electric Desert are a young Israeli band that combines a late '60s/early '70s psychedelic rock vibe with a Middle Eastern groove and tonality. On their 2014 album, guitarist Nir Popliker trades fuzz guitar licks with Barak Sober's flute runs. 

But onstage at last week's Sounds of the Old City festival, Sober's place was filled by soprano saxophonist Ayalon Toshiner, whose expressive klezmer-style playing provided a great contrast to the rest of the band's rock groove. During their first set, sans percussionist Gavriel Friesem, drummer Udi Krauss kept the groove going and, together with bassist Omer Lutzky, had the crowd dancing and tapping their feet. 

I don't know whether Toshiner is a permanent replacement for Sober or just a stand-in, but I would highly recommend that the band keeps him on board as a full-time member. He's terrific!

This band is definitely one to watch.

14 March 2015

Exclusive Pics: Lazer Lloyd live at the Sounds of the Old City music festival, 11 March 2015

To hear authentic live blues, you need to get on a plane and go to Chicago, or Austin, or Memphis, and find a proper blues club, right? Wrong! Israeli-American blues guitarist Lazer Lloyd (Eliezer Blumen) plays  some of the best live blues around today. He is one of Israel's best guitarists and regularly plays clubs all over the country. He could comfortably take the stage with the all-stars at Eric Clapton's Crossroads festival, easily holding his own with the legends that join Clapton for a jam.

Last week, at the Sounds of the Old City festival in Jerusalem's historic walled city, Lazer's trio--Lazer on guitar, Moshe Davidson on bass, and Erez Simon on drums--played a couple of absolutely smoking sets of electric Jewish blues, channeling Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, and more. But the big difference between Lazer and the blues greats who influenced him is that Lazer plays the blues through a lens of Jewish spirituality. Whether playing a bluesy "Mishenichnas Adar," playing his own originals like the new tune, "Burning Thunder," from his upcoming album, or getting the crowd to sing along to get their "Mojo working," he had the crowd in his hands.

If you get the chance to see Lazer and his trio, in Israel or overseas, don't pass it up.