I must admit that when I moved back to Israel some fourteen years ago I knew virtually nothing about the Dead and of course nothing about the “Phish” band. As I entered the festival production world in Jerusalem I was amazed at how many “Dead Heads” Israel had and so many in Jerusalem. I knew that “Dead” music was associated with a lot of LSD use I suspect due to their long instrumental rifts that you can virtually get lost in but as an addiction counselor of 30 years or so and a non-stoner I had to find my own way to love this band. And it happened, I fell in love! To the point where every musical festival I produced at the Jerusalem Silo Café had to end with a Dead tribute band. Over the years I hosted The Elevators, Dorban Hills, Four Winds Home, The Shefa Band, Abeline and more.
Since then I have joined many “Grateful Dead” Facebook groups and have heard over and over again “Why are these festivals always happening on Shabbat?” Well as is my M.O. if something is requested and I find it important I say “Why Not?” and I do it.
This week and just around the corner it’s happening. Thanks to Hanan Anando Mars, the owner of the Jerusalem Silo Café located off of the parking lot of the First Station we will be hosting Jerusalem’s first Two Day “Grateful Dead” Fest not on Shabbat. Our festival is as always family friendly and smoke free. Not to worry smokers of all kinds, there are plenty of places outside of the Silo to “do your thing!!” The fest will begin Thursday evening with four live bands: Pine Hills hosting Abilene’s incredible lead singer Isaac Rosen and Alan Abby a great guitarist in a Grateful Dead Duo. Following Pine Hills will be Jerusalem’s Four Winds Home whose pianist Steve Levine is the co-founder of Radio Free Nachlaot which hosted some of our musicians on his show to speak about this epic event! And a first for me, I have added to the lineup “Mighty Phine Jews” the best of Israel’s Phish tribute bands. For those of you like me never hearing of “Phish” before, I learned that they were inspired by The Grateful Dead as a “Jam” band with combined genres of rock, funk, psychedelic rock and even Reggae. Some say they chose the name because their drummer Jon Fishman’s nickname is “Fish” but Jon denies it. Seeing “The Mighty Phine Jews” so named due to one of the lines sounding like those words yet not actually pronounced that way at Jerusalem’s only Rock Bar “Blaze” Bar (of course, where else?) I was literally blown away by their vibe! See for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB3MwFyVMXM and https://www.facebook.com/tracey.shipley.79/videos/879036799865213
Our final act of the evening will be Abilene, the youngest “Grateful Dead” Band in the country and some say the best, drawing audiences from all over Israel. Founded in 2022 all of the members are Olim from the US arguably with old souls meeting over the course of a few years in Tel Aviv and bonding over their shared love of The Grateful Dead and its endlessly new and exploratory nature. Check them out on Facebook!
Then what? An acoustic music circle into the night on the grounds of the Silo where you can actually set up your tent and stay all night! In Baka!!! Imagine that!!! Oh, and the food? In addition to The Silo’s well-acclaimed kosher dairy cuisine with a variety of healthy drinks, beer and cocktails, Lahava Silliman will be joining us to serve her famous authentic Indian food- kosher of course!
Waking up to a beautiful Jerusalem Friday morning we will begin the day with a Grateful Dead DJ Music Yoga by me. A novice yet having led yoga at many retreats and for many of my patients in group homes my yoga is easy and lots of fun! Of course, the Silo café will be open to serve breakfast and lunch. Following the yoga and a hearty meal my “Jerusalem School of Rock” young bands will perform a few of Woodstock’s favorite tunes before getting back to the “Dead”. Our first professional band is brand new and will be featuring well-known musicians from the bands “Shlepping Nachas” and “Mishkan”. Their name? Skeely McFeely and the Horse of Destiny. Their debut performance was on Sunday, June 11th at Blaze Rock Bar in front of an excited audience! Making the band special in addition to their incredibly talented and seasoned musicians is their style, “The Dead” in a Reggae way.
Our last band of the festival will be none other than the Shefa Band performing the Best of the Dead. Coming to us from Holy Tsfat their set will stay with you throughout Shabbat and probably longer! More about The Shefa Band: “Drawing inspiration from their hometown, the mystical village of Tzfat, Shefa is a band that is bringing down new flow. Shefa is the Hebrew word for Abundance/Flow. Shefa believes that each person has infinitely abundant potential. Shefa Music is here to inspire you to tap into your limitless flow potential and the Divine Spark within. Bringing down the wisdom of the great Jewish mystics, Shefa’s music (a fusion of folk, reggae, psychedelic rock, and ancient Niggun) imbues a sense of spirit and soul while keeping you rockin’ on your feet. Influenced by greats from all genres and generations including Matisyahu, R’ Shlomo Carlebach, Bob Marley, Zusha, Grateful Dead, and Trevor Hall, Shefa weaves a tapestry of sound, feeling, and connection.” Shefa will be doing a Holy Grateful Dead set. Getting back to their core their song “We Are Here To Stay”, will move you beyond words if you are anything like me: https://www.shefaband.com/
Throughout the festival, well-known Grateful Dead DJ Josh Polsky will be spinning our favorite Dead tunes. Ever since being introduced to the Dead on his summer Israel tour in high school, Josh Polsky has listened to them almost every day since. Whether spinning Dead tunes at music festivals or hosting Grateful Dead night at Hoodna in Florentin, you can be sure Josh will take you on a long strange trip!
We will finalize our festival with a musical “Deadesque” Kabbalat Shabbat Friday afternoon led by non-other than Rebbe Shalom Lebowitz lead singer of Shefa band followed by an acoustic jam so bring your instruments!
As if that wasn’t enough, appearing out of the sky is “Albi” an incredible Lighting Artist, a new Oleh originally from Turkey who will be projecting a background light show all through Thursday night. I must say, I can’t wait!! Check out our FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/799522318417192
The cost is free for kids under 12, teens only 20 shekels, advanced tickets 60 shekels for Thursday night and 40 shekels for Friday day- 65 Thursday and 45 Friday at the door. For advanced tickets feel free to contact me or simply send me payment by “Bit” to 0548108918. Hope to see you there!!! Oh, wait!!! There’s more!!! After Party at Blaze Rock Bar Saturday night with Four Winds Home!!!