By Raphael Ahren
July 24, 2009
A group of Anglo entrepreneurs have taken on the task of wielding
together Woodstock and Jerusalem in a music revival honoring the 40th
anniversary of the legendary festival. While many people who were or
claim to have been at the original Woodstock - billed as "three days
of peace and music" at the time - remember it as three days of
uninhibited sex and drugs, organizers insist the "Jerusalem Woodstock
Revival" will put its emphasis on five hours of fun.
"We're not trying to reproduce the three-day festival at upstate New
York. We're just trying to have a fun night of music," said Carmi
Wurtman, a Philadelphia-born event promoter who last year brought
Woodstock legend Joe Cocker to Israel. "As far as sex, drugs and rock
and roll goes - everyone is on their own for that. If someone wants
to do it they're invited to. I'm not the law, but there will be
police and security, of course. Obviously we're not promoting drug
[abuse] and there's also no political message. It's definitely about
people having a good time enjoying good music." Wurtman stressed the
concert, for which fans are encouraged to dress up in retro-looking
hippie clothes, will have a "Woodstock feel" to it. "We're going to
have plenty of beer," he said.
Concert organizer Danny Gewirtz was even more careful. "We're
certainly not trying to recreate the atmosphere of free love, sex,
drugs and rock 'n' roll," the native New Yorker told Anglo File. "The
rock and roll part - yes. But not the other stuff. It's really all
about the music. But because it's 40 years since Woodstock we wanted
to have a setting that is sort of similar to Woodstock, like bringing
blankets out in on open field. We're a bunch of religious people and
the show is catering mostly to the Anglo population here, and that's
certainly not something that they're into."
Five mostly Anglo bands will play songs by some of the most popular
artists of that era. Organizers say they expect to sell more than
1,000 tickets for the five-hour rock show, which will take place on
the grass inside the Kraft Stadium. The Web site of the "Jerusalem
Woodstock Revival" features the slogan "Spread the Love" and points
out that the scheduled date for the event, August 5, falls on Tu
B'Av, "the traditional Jewish day of love." Yet organizers take pains
to explain that the word "revival" must not be taken literally.
Free love as understood by the Woodstock generation unquestionably
meant promiscuity, Gewirtz explained, but the Jerusalem event will be
"harmless," he asserted. "Free love could be understood as the love
of rock and roll, or the love you have for your wife and your kids -
that would certainly represent a modern day Jerusalem Woodstock. It
could even be the love of Torah."
Also Eliyahu Sidikman, who will perform with two bands at the
concert, said the Jerusalem event would have little in common with
the atmosphere at the real Woodstock. "Let's face it: we're all nice
Jewish boys," the Long Island, New York native said, adding that all
performers have solid day jobs and lead rather un-Bohemian lives.
"It's going to be lot more innocent that the whole culture of
drop-outs and drug addicts."
Gewirtz conceived the idea to stage a Woodstock revival together with
Steve Leibowitz, with whom he operates Kraft Stadium, after they saw
a local Anglo band covering songs sang at Woodstock during a recent
show in Tel Aviv. "I missed the original Woodstock Festival, and have
regretted it ever since," Leibowitz said. Leibowitz was 18 years old
in 1969 and could have theoretically attended the festival, but
Gewirtz said he was nine at the time. "I remember I was in camp in
upstate New York, not far from where the concert took place. I just
remember a parade of cars coming through the small roads near my
camp. That's as close as I got to it."
The music itself will have somewhat of but not a complete Woodstock
feel to it. Three of the five acts will play songs by Woodstock
performers: Long Time Gone (covering Crosby, Stills and Nash), Geva
Alon (covering Neil Young) and Lazer Lloyd, of the popular Anglo rock
band Yood (covering Jimi Hendrix). Ronnie Peterson, who grew up in
the U.S. and later played with Israeli rock legend Shalom Hanoch,
will be singing Bob Dylan songs while Crystal Ship will interpret The Doors.
Mark Rashkow, a Blues guitarist who opened for Michael Jackson and
other international stars before moving from Chicago to Israel in
2003, is the only person involved with the concert who attended the
1969 festival. He is expected to jam with the musicians during a
One connection between the revival and the original has a beneficial
side effect: every concertgoer who comes to the stadium with a ticket
or other evidence that he or she was at Woodstock has free entrance.