Woodstock Revival IV: Libi and the Flashback
Written by: Candace Mittel
One night, in the middle of an Israeli February four years ago, a group of musicians sat listening to Geva Alon sing Neil Young. The conversation amongst the friends wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, until someone had the idea to do a Woodstock 40th year anniversary event in Israel. One thing lead to another, and the first Woodstock Revival festival took place in Jerusalem in 2009.
And it simply hasn’t stopped rocking since.
Now in it’s fourth year, the Woodstock Revival is set, yet again, to be an extraordinary, psychedelic event next Thursday, August 2 at Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium. Don’t miss Israeli’s leading artists singing Woodstock classics and other 60’s jams: Geva Alon singing Neil Young, Libi and the Flashback playing Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and hosting Yael Dekelbaum, Michael Greilsammer with a Led Zeppelin set, The Elevators playing The Grateful Dead, Ummagumma bringing Pink Floyd, Crystal Ship doing a tribute to the Doors, and much more.
I chatted with Libi, the bold, brilliant singer from Libi and the Flashback, this week. We met at Banana Beach in Tel Aviv as the sun was just about to tuck into the horizon and disappear for the day, its neon colors flashing pink and orange over the shimmering, quieting waves. Having re-made Aliyah only a year a half ago, Libi exclaimed: “Look at this! The best city in the world! Lots of people have beautiful beaches all around the world. But this is ours. This is my beach. And it’s great!!!” She paused to let her enthusiasm reverberate in the hot, sticky breeze. She shot me an earnest glance: “Look at it.”
Libi was raised in upstate New York in Monsey, what she calls “a lovely disneyland for Jews.” She bought a ticket to the original Woodstock, but when her parents found it, they bought her a plane ticket to Israel instead. Ironically, she remembers pouting the entire plane ride here, but ultimately, Israel became her true home. An “intravenous zionist since birth,” as Libi calls herself, she made Aliyah with her first husband and daughter of 10 months in 1979. Her band, Libi and the Flash, was the first hard rock band in Israel. “I wore fish nets and chains and sang Led Zeppelin. Now, it’s considered tame, but for 1980 in Israel, it was crazy. We had songs about prostitution, about living in a coffin, about how much better hell is than heaven…” she reminisced. She stayed in Israel for a while, but life events eventually brought her back to the United States, and she ended up in Boston where her daughter and grandsons lived. Although she always wanted to return to Israel, it was important for her to be with family.
On a desperate vacation to Israel about three years ago, Libi had a gig at Blaze, a funky rock bar in Jerusalem. The first song she sang that night was a ZZ Top song, “Tush,” that ends with the following line: “I’m coming back, I’m coming home, not by myself, not alone.” She recalls lifting her hands up in the air after the song, and despite sounding cliche, she is not embarrassed to retell how she felt a white tunnel spring from her arms upward, a transcendental moment conveying to her that everything would be okay, that everything would be taken care of. Following that mystical trip to Israel, she returned to Boston, but after a trip to San Francisco for an insane Grateful Dead concert with all the original Dead Heads, she decided she would move to San Francisco. She returned to Boston to tell her daughter the bittersweet news, but upon declaring her decision, her son-in-law placed his hands in his head with disappointment: “but we were just about to tell you that we decided, while you were gone in San Francisco, that we’ll move to Israel!”
And so Libi is back. She officially re-made Aliyah with her daughter (this time for good) a year and half ago, and just four days after her arrival, she found herself performing at her first Woodstock Revival in Jerusalem. At last year’s event, she was singing the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” when she felt inspired to invite everyone in the audience up on the stage, fitting with the song’s spirit. All of a sudden, she describes hearing this angel singing, and she looked over to see none other than one of Israel’s finest singers, Yael Deckebaum. There the connection was made, and Libi and Yael are set to perform Janis Joplin together at this year’s Woodstock.
“You can see all three generations at Woodstock!” remarked Libi’s. “It’s such a wonderful day of happiness and joy. Woodstock was what it was because it was a time of innocence. And it’s not such a terrible thing to try to recapture it,” she paused and added in verbal parenthesis, “besides the fact that it’s the best music, ever, ever, ever!!!” she exclaimed in an enthusiastic whisper, almost trying to contain herself. She continued, “But Woodstock was also the discovery of joy, peace, love, brotherhood, and sisterhood. Peace and love meant different things back then – those words actually meant something.”
Libi suspects that the social protests of last summer were something similar to the spirit of Woodstock: “The social protests last summer were the first time I saw hope like that since Woodstock. This generation is amazing. We aren’t the innocents we were back then – the world is certainly not innocent – and the Age of Aquarius will never come again. But we can definitely search for it. Woodstock has been held in fascination all over the world for years and years. Woodstock will be a fascination forever. And I hope it will come back again.”
Jerusalem Woodstock Revival IV will take place Thursday, August 2 at Kraft Stadium
Get your tickets early for 100 nis, or at the gate for 140 nis. Students and soldiers pay 85 nis.
If you have a Yerushalmi Card, early tickers are just 70 nis, and at the gate 110 nis.