Three years ago I was invited to an event at a super cool venue I had never heard of. This venue became the home of every festival I have produced in the last three years. A beautiful outdoor space with a country feeling consisting of a Dunam of land populated with trees, plants and herbs, wooden benches and tables, awnings to protect from the sun, a children’s corner with a large box full of toys and two large silos once consisting of petrol now turned into a kitchen and one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city featuring special fresh juices, shakes, salads, and many other fun healthy foods. Some of you know what this magical place is. It’s the Silo Café located at the far end of the First Station parking lot.
Hanan Anando Mars moved here a few years ago with his young family after opening a creative center in Tel Aviv hoping to do the same in Jerusalem. His vision was to create a space where culture of all kinds was welcome no matter how far out it was. Evenings of Indian food and dance, young bands performing, second-hand clothing and other items sales and much more happened nightly. The Silo Café became a hub of excitement and creativity. Many a young person I had met through my music projects over the years found a safe place to hang out with friends, guitar in hand, playing and schmoozing even if they did not have a penny to spend on food or drinks. Families could come for a meal confident that their young ones would find what to do in the children’s corner or just run around this beautiful outdoor space.
When I approached Hanan three years ago while I was desperate to find a place for my second Jerusalem Community Woodstock Festival where I would not be charged thousands of shekels by the city to use any public outdoor space, Hanan said “Tracey; the Silo Is Woodstock”. 12 Woodstock and Grateful Dead festivals later I can’t imagine them taking place at any other location.
Now comes the hard news. If you have yet to hear, the city has decided to expand the First Station area to include hotels, housing, hi-tech offices and more high-rise buildings as seen in Tel Aviv and mowing down the Silo Café in the process. For those who remember the city of Jerusalem five years ago, the neighborhoods were pluralistic; the schools were divided among secular, religious Zionist and Haredi pupils, the city had a quaint look with far less high-rise buildings and it felt like a wonderful place to raise our children. Since then secular and religious Zionist schools are closing and our neighborhoods are becoming less and less pluralistic. All of this is beyond upsetting particularly since rarely are the citizens of the neighborhoods party to these decisions.
So back to my personal loss. The Silo Café is one of Jerusalem’s treasures. I don’t know how to fight the bulldozers but those of us who love the Silo and those of you who have yet to enjoy all it has to offer may have the opportunity to find a way to Save the Silo. I have been an activist since a very young age but this battle is far too big for me alone.
In the meantime, my last Woodstock event of the season will take place this Thursday, September 15th beginning at 7pm with my School of Rock project teen bands. After them, you will be delighted to enjoy Jon Hock’s new Santana band with Steve Rodan at the helm, one of Jerusalem’s old-time favorite musicians. Joining him among others is Yuval Efrati a 23-year-old phenomenon on percussion with this being her debut performance.
Then comes Libi. Who is Libi? Only the first female rock singer to hit the stages of Israel back in the 1980s. She is every bit as effervescent and rocking as ever before. Visiting us from the US in the hopes that she will be back to live again soon in the country she calls home I have wanted her to perform for us since I began organizing my Woodstock events but she was never available. For the first time it worked out and I am so excited as is everyone who has missed watching this queen of rock hit the stage.
Finally, as all of you who have been to my festivals know, I always end my shows with a Grateful Dead band. This time I am beginning and ending the show with tributes to Jerry Garcia. Beginning the adult bands will be Pine Hills a wonderful acoustic band and ending our fest will be “Abilene” a fairly new band with talent and energy rarely seen on stage.
So, come and see the last of our Woodstock Festivals of the summer and with the impending closing of the Silo potentially by June it may be our very last one. But who knows. Miracles do happen in this holy city.