It was a moment in time that would go down in America as the Big One: The Woodstock Music & Art Fair. For three days – August 15-17, 1969 – Bethel, New York was the second-most populated city in the state. I was 17 that summer, freshly out of high school and, after pooling our babysitting money and sending away for tickets to the mythical-sounding festival, my sister Tobi and I headed north from Silver Spring, Maryland, in a friend’s aged Peugeot.
On July 10, Israelis will enjoy a chance to travel back in time and experience some of the music and groovy vibes of that magical weekend. The sixth annual Jerusalem Woodstock Revival, which attracts more than 1,300 aging hippies and wannabe flower children of all ages, salutes that moment 45 years ago when half-a-million young people spent a three mind-bending days reveling in the cream of the nation’s folk and rock music – and yes, countless acres of mud. On tap: Top local musicians morphing before your eyes into some of the hottest American bands of the ’60s.
Steve Leibowitz was 17 when his parents shipped him off to Israel in 1969, meaning he was 10,000 km. away from the action in Bethel that August. But now, as president of American Football in Israel and director of the Kraft Family Stadium, Leibowitz is able to connect with – and promote – that Woodstock spirit in this annual fundraiser for the stadium.
“I missed the original festival of ’69,” he says. “But each summer we bring a little bit of Woodstock to Jerusalem.”
The crowd gathering there can look forward to local musicians’ tuneful tributes to the greats of that generation. This year’s lineup includes guitarist Shlomo Mizrachi channeling Jimi Hendrix, Gal Nisman’s recreation of Eric Clapton & Cream, guitarist-singer Eliyahu Sidikman sharing the stage with his daughter Miryam as Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick, and singer Libi’s salute to the Rolling Stones with Mike Pery and the Brown Sugar Band. There will be a Woodstock Blues Medley with Dov Hammer and the Blues Rebels.
Libi was a Monsey, New York, teen who was expecting to be among the half-a-million people at Max Yasgur’s farm that August weekend. She even ordered the tickets. But her parents had decidedly different ideas and a plan that would determine the rest of her life: Like Leibowitz, she was sent packing to Israel.
“They made me trade my ticket to Woodstock for a ticket to Israel, and I was prepared to hate it,” says the selfdescribed “rockin’ grandma.”
To her utter surprise, as soon as she set foot on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport, it was “love at first smell.”
“There was that sweet, wonderful smell of this place,” she says 45 years later. “I still think of it as a total DNA memory sensory experience.”
Libi immigrated a decade later, at age 28, and from her Tel Aviv home base, she continues to perform ’60s and ’70s rock & roll around the country.
Along with the music, this year’s festival offers family entertainment, a best-dressed hippie contest, and between-set hippie fashion shows by Trumpeldor Vintage Clothing Store in Nahlaot – which is also outfitting several of the performers that day in throwback fashions.
For a taste of Thursday’s performances, people can tune into the Gedi Livne Show on 88 FM at 10 p.m. on July 7.
For tickets to the July 10 Jerusalem Woodstock Revival: http://2bvibes.com/ tickets or (03) 613-3556. Note: Discounts apply for families, soldiers and students.
For more information, visit www.woodstockrevival.com.
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