Tracey Shipley
Youth, family and addictions counselor/creative therapist/band organizer and manager/event producer/writer

Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Holy Land

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 30: Johny Van Zant, Rickey Medlocke and Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd perform on stage at Resorts World Arena on June 30, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Steve Thorne/Redferns)

The Lynyrd Skynyrd Band and the Holy Land

Once upon a time there was a large Woodstock Festival gracing the field of Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium gathering sometimes over 1000 spectators to see the best of Israel’s rock tribute bands usually brought in from outside of Jerusalem.  One of the bands that frequented the stage every year of this festival was Long Time Gone performing the best of Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Doors, Credence Clearwater Revival and more.  The last year of the festival this band requested to perform a tribute to one of the worlds most famed rock bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd, but was told that no one in Israel would recognize them and they were turned down.

I’m excited to say that the newest Woodstock Festivals that I initiated over seven years ago after the original WS events ended, not only include many local bands, this year will feature Israel’s first Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band “Alabama”!  This controversial band which typically performed in front of the Confederate Flag, until recently, has been accused of representing the racist South of yesteryear.  There are many theories about this and Skynyrd’s original singer and songwriter Ronny Van Zant’s actual attitude about the South. When he sings “In Birmingham they loved the governor “Boo Boo Boo” he seems to be conceding that George Wallace had negative attitudes.  He also seems to be against popular gun possession which is typically known to be supported in the South when he states in his song “Saturday Night Special” that killing is all that guns are good for. Sometimes it’s hard to determine what is said in honesty and what is said tongue and cheek.  Either way, the South and what it stood for is a reality of American History and whatever Van Zant and his band actually believed seems irrelevant. They are just stating what has been felt and thought about for decades, a fact we need never forget and can’t be forgotten even with the tearing down of General Stonewall Jackson’s statue. Whose idea was that anyway? Oh and by the way, it was not Skynyrd that decided to put a Confederate Flag on the stage with them, it was their recording studio MCA Records!

ATLANTA – SEPTEMBER 20: (L-R) Guitarist Allen Collins, drummer Bob Burns, singer-frontman Ronnie Van Zant, bassist Leon Wilkeson, guitarist Ed King and guitarist Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd perform at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at Georgia Tech on September 20, 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Tom Hill/Getty Images)

Back to Jerusalem and an interesting fact connecting Skynyrd to Jerusalem. In the 1980s Artimus Pyle, Skynyrd’s drummer decided to move to Jerusalem for a few years and actually studied at the Diaspora Yeshiva in the Old City.  No, he wasn’t Jewish but something compelled him to take his spiritual journey among us Jerusalemites next to King David’s Tomb this king known for psalms speaking to those of all races and religions.  Rumor has it he even left his drums at the Yeshiva for their use.  Yay Artimus!

I only remember two tragic incidents that I heard on the radio and where I was at the time. One was Rabin’s assassination and the other the plane crash that killed three members of the Skynyrd band. I was crushed by both of these events and never forgot how I felt when I heard the news.

It’s hard to explain why certain bands and types of music speak to us but, when it came to Lynyrd Skynyrd I was hooked from their first song “Don’t Give Me A Hard Time Tonight”.  Though I was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, not exactly the South, I connected to their Southern sound and in Chesterland Ohio hanging out at the local dive bar in my later years we were about as Country as we could be and guess what? I’m proud of that!

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My Cleveland “brothers” looking so much like the Van Zants photo by Tracey Shipley

I must say, this brand new band that I am excited to say I initiated and recruited most of the members for, blew me away when I heard their last recording.  Closing my eyes I could picture the original members of the band with or without the Confederate Flag “gracing” the stage behind them.  This band may have originated in Jacksonville Florida but they seem to have a grasp of the attitude of the entire South which ironically gets more Southern as you travel north up to Georgia and the Mississippi!

Join us Thursday August 24th to hear the best of Skynyrd, Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix as well as Spare Parts with their fantastic assortment of rock’s greatest hits.  And yes, once again Hendrix will be performed by none other than Israel’s own Jimi Hendrix Shlomo Mizrachi![%7B%22mechanism%22%3A%22your_upcoming_events_unit%22%2C%22surface%22%3A%22bookmark%22%7D]%2C%22ref_notif_type%22%3Anull%7D

Tickets only 60 shekels in advance and 65 shekels at the door. And of course the festival will take place at our favorite venue, The Silo Café in the parking lot of the First Station.  Contact me for more details Tracey 0548108918 and advance tickets can be purchased through bit to the same number. Hope to see you there. It will be an Epic event!!!

About the Author
Tracey Shipley is a youth and family counselor specializing in addictions and family communication. She was born in the US and moved to Israel in 1984 to continue her studies in Art Therapy. She moved back to the US in 1989 and began working in a drug rehab for teens where she was trained while she worked as a primary counselor. She moved back to Israel in 1996 and continued her work in addictions at the Jerusalem Methadone Clinic for a total of 9 years. She initiated projects for the children of the addicts at the Methadone Clinic, Established a program for Ethiopian Teens educating them about their culture and opened the Jerusalem School of Rock program which helps to create teen rock bands and established monthly teen music events at downtown venues where teens perform for their friends in a teen friendly exciting atmosphere. In addtion to her projects Tracey was the English Speaking Volunteer Coordinator for Emunah Jerusalem succeeding in bringing in more funds and volunteers than ever before. Tracey organizes monthly Rock Festivals and manages rock bands young and old. Tracey also writes for Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post.
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