It’s been 45 years since the muddy festivities at Woodstock, but the rockers who played onstage at Max Yasgur’s farm continue to inspire generations of musicians, and fans.
It’s even spawned an annual concert in Jerusalem, the Woodstock Revival, now in its sixth year.
This year, the beloved throwback festival, sponsored by the Jerusalem municipality, was set to return to Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium on Thursday, July 10. But the security situation forced a postponement, ordered by the Jerusalem municipality: Concertgoers will now have to wait until August 21 to loll on the stadium’s fake grass, dressed in tie-dye and jeans, listening to Israeli artists cover classics from Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Eric Clapton.
The festival is “totally fun for us,” said Gal Nisman, whose band, The Full Trunk, covers Cream and Eric Clapton. “There’s a fine line when you do covers between imitating and giving respect. We give a lot of respect but I don’t try to sing like Clapton; we try to do it our way.”
The four band members have been working together for about four years, after Nisman, a guitarist, met Ofer Vayner (bass), Ron Bakal (keyboard) and Yotam Elazari (drums) through mutual friends.
Nisman, who grew up in the north, learned classical guitar in his early teens, and then gave up playing until he entered the army, as a combat soldier in a Golani unit. It was then that he discovered the blues.
“I played a lot of classic rock, from the 1950s to the 1970s,” he said. “I was focused on anything up until Woodstock.”
Clapton, the master guitarist and blues player, is a role model, said Nisman.
“He kept the blues alive, but he also brought it into the mainstream,” he said, “with songs like ‘Wonderful Tonight’ and ‘Tears in Heaven,’” he said.
The band members are currently producing their own work in Hebrew as they attempt to introduce Israelis to the blues, a genre that doesn’t have much of a foothold locally.
“We know we can be more unique in Israel with original music than in a bar in Memphis,” said Nisman. “We want to show the audience that we’re something special.”
Other artists at the postponed Woodstock Revival VI will include Eliyahu Sidikman and his daughter, Miryam, as well as Libi with The Rolling Stones, Mike Pery and the Brown Sugar Band, and Dov Hammer and The Blues Rebels. One other newcomer, along with Nisman, is veteran Israeli guitarist Shlomo Mizrachi.
Known as the Israeli Jimi Hendrix for his guitar-playing skills, the 66-year-old formed the Electric Stage band in the sixties, influencing future generations of musicians, including Barry Sakharov and Ehud Banai.
Mizrachi said his first musical memory was hearing the Beatles on the radio as a child, when he first began playing guitar. But it’s some of the later artists, such as Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, that he channels most often.
“People hear me play and they always say, you are like Jimi Hendrix, this sound that you make,” said Mizrachi. “Listen, music can never get old. You know what I mean? You know we can grow, we can change, we can pass things in our lives, but music is something pure. It’s a language that is above time. I believe that.”
When the gig finally goes ahead, Mizrachi said he’ll be playing “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan, which he loves, as well as some Hendrix, including “Little Wing,” “Fire,” “Voodoo Child” and “Purple.”
He’ll also be playing “Hatikva,” Israel’s national anthem, but on electric guitar.
“It’s my favorite,” he said.
Produced by 2Vibe Productions, Jerusalem Woodstock Revival VI is now set to take place on Thursday, August 21, at Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium, starting at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets range in price from NIS 34 for kids under 15 (fourth child is free), to NIS 84 for students who are Jerusalem residents and veteran Jerusalem residents, to NIS 104 for adult tickets. Adult tickets cost NIS 104 online and NIS 140 at the box office on the day of the concert.
(Note: This article was updated July 9 to detail the concert’s postponement.)