Here are some great photos taken by Merri Lu Park during our performance at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Click on a photo for a larger image.
Life has seemed a blur since Work o’ the Weavers returned from our 10-day Israel adventure in May. Proof positive once again that timing is indeed everything! We have a hard time assimilating the fact that some of the places we performed are now directly in the line of fire, recipients of Hezbollah rockets launched from across the Lebanese border.
By way of marked contrast, our experience could not have been more idyllic. In the first week of May, Madhumita and I departed ahead of the pack for a few days of R&R, which we readily found at the Dead Sea. At eight times saltier than any ocean, you float whether you want to or not. That and a massage does the trick! We took a day and explored nearby Masada and En Gedi, then returned to Tel Aviv in time to greet the arrival of David, Mark and Martha.
Work o’ the Weavers sang our first notes together in the northern town of Karmi’el, giving us a chance to re-group, as it were, and synchronize with one another. From then on it was a different venue every day. We next headlined the 30th Annual Jacob’s Ladder Festival in the resort community of Nof Ginosar on the Sea of Galilee–beneath a glorious full moon! Two days of performances kept us hopping from stage to stage, either following or preceding the wonderful Irish singer-songwriter Tommy Sands. Madhumita Chakrabartti, my partner in life and occasional song, joined me for a solo/duo set on the Lawn Stage.
From there, we spent a couple of days at Neveh Shalom/Wahat al Salaam (Oasis of Peace), an intentional community populated half by Jewish and half by Arab Israelis, living together consciously in peace. We gave them a concert and learned a great deal in our all-too-brief stay among them.
It worked out beautifully that each performance took us to a new and different part of the country, and each offered quite different performance opportunities. In several places we were faced with the challenge of singing without benefit of a sound system, but in each of those instances any trepidations we may have had in advance were soon easily dismissed when either the room acoustics or proximity to the audience proved appropriate to the occasion, and we were easily heard and understood.
We were offered rooms at Kibbutz Tzora to serve as a base of operations for several days. This agricultural and light industrial kibbutz was founded by South African Jews in 1948, and our concert there was embraced by many longtime Weavers fans, each of whom had a personal anecdote to share about how important the Weavers had been to them over the years. Several recalled hearing the Weavers when they made their only Israel trip, in 1959. From Tzora we ventured out to the Jerusalem Folk Club at the Zoo, the American International School in Tel Aviv, and our ‘farewell’ house concert in Gedera. Throughout our stay, audiences generously responded with standing ovations at each and every performance, making us feel more than welcome.
The group’s final day was spent in the company of Sandy Cash, a marvelously funny and creative songwriter and singer originally from Detroit. She gave us a tour of the Jerusalem Old City, then she and her husband Buddy and family hosted us for a Shabbat supper of sustenance and song. As you might expect, each of their 4 children is also exceptionally musically talented. It was the perfect way to crown our Israel visit.
After seeing off my four compatriots home to New York, I remained behind for an additional week and several more solo gigs. Whereas each was a unique and wonderful experience, perhaps none was so special as playing at the Be’er Sheba Public Library for an audience predominantly made up of Bedouin children of about middle school age. Getting them to sing along in both English and Arabic was a personal highlight of my journey.
– James, 31 July 2006