Rockin' in the Holy Land

 

 

“But I came on vacation just to take a look

and you know one look is all that it took

and I stand rockin’ in the Holy Land”

— Lazer Lloyd, “Rockin' In The Holy Land”

Lazer Lloyd is a bluesman who has spent the last 21 years living in Israel, where he has introduced the culture to America’s oldest music form. After years of struggling to bring blues to his new home, he's finding success there and back in the United States. His latest album, which sounds not unlike recent offerings from Tom Petty, is even a Grammy candidate. The record showcases Lloyd’s ability to shred on the guitar and to sing truly heartfelt blues.

Lloyd sees the blues as a way to connect every person to their soul.

“There’s a word level, of understanding the lyrics that’s something that goes into your mind, and then there’s a story that comes out of the song that goes into your heart,” Lloyd said in a phone interview with NUVO before his show at the Slippery Noodle on Thursday. “But then, there’s a deeper level of just the notes of the blues that can’t be understood, that goes to your soul. I want every person to communicate with their own souls. It makes you feel a little more real.”

Born Lloyd Paul Blumen in New York with the Hebrew name Eliezer Pinchas Blumen — his stage name Lazer Lloyd is a combination of his Hebrew and English names — Lloyd grew up as all-American as they come: loving football and music in his Connecticut home, where his family relocated when he was young. Lloyd knew he was Jewish but it wasn’t something he focused on – he says he was never religious.

He returned to New York as an 18-year-old to attend Skidmore College and study under Milt Hinton, who played bass with Louis Armstrong. While in New York City, Lloyd played a gig with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, a homeless hippie rabbi, who invited him back to Israel.

At the time, he was recording demos for a record label in Nashville. He had a real chance at starting a career in the United States, but he went with Rabbi Carlebach and fell in love with the country. He still lives in Israel to this day with his wife and kids.

 

Although he comes to America often to tour and to promote his music, he recorded his new album entirely in Israel. He plans on continuing to bring in Middle Eastern influences into his music, citing Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin’s Arabic sonic influences in mainstream '60s blues rock.

“The first blues singer, to me, was King David, who wrote the Psalms,” Lloyd says. “When you read the Psalms, King David is writing the guidebook of the blues, his struggle with the world. He’s got women problems, his son wants to kill him, that’s the real blues.”

While touring the U.S., Lloyd travels to inner-city schools and tell his story to the kids, where he talks about settling down in a foreign place, a place where he has to take his kids to bomb shelters to keep them safe, a place where his kids have to worry about terrorist attacks, his struggles and his blues. He performs with a rapping pastor in Englewood, a crime-ridden neighborhood in Chicago. A lot of his band members come from bad neighborhoods, Lloyd says, so he makes sure to take time to try to help children. He says he knows how music can communicate in a spiritual way that words just cannot.

“The bluesman is the healer; their job is to get people’s minds off the hard struggle of life, to give people some vibe to keep going,” Lloyd says. “I try to do what I can, as long as my body can keep up with the traveling.”

Lloyd’s goal is to bridge the gap between people and to get everyone to listen to their hearts and connect with each other.

“Music is above words, above differences, it goes straight to conjoining the essence of each of us.”

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