Few artists in the contemporary Jewish music scene blend genres and styles quite as expertly as American-Israeli roots rocker Lazer Lloyd.
A New York City native who was raised in Madison, Ct., Lloyd — born Lloyd Paul Blumen — moved to Israel in the 1990s to study with legendary Jewish singer/songwriter Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Lloyd became a Carlebach disciple and a fixture in Jewish jam band circles, both as a solo act and with the psychedelic group Reva L’Sheva and the blues-rock band Yood.
Lloyd will perform on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. at Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Hebrew Congregation, 7000 Rockland Hills Drive in Greengate, for a house concert. Opening and producing the show will be singer-songwriter and guest artist Avraham Rosenblum.
Lloyd, 52, recently spoke to Jmore about his musical and spiritual influences and inspirations, as well as his new album, “Backstreets.” His past solo CDs include “Lazer Lloyd Unplugged”, “Blues in Tel Aviv” and the Hebrew song collection “Haneshama.” His 2012 release “My Own Blues” was named best blues album by the Israeli Blues Society and was sent to the Memphis International Blues Competition.
Jmore: Describe your music.
LL: My music is Americana, but obviously it has a Lazer Lloyd twist to it, with the message. And in a way, I kind of mix in a bit of psychedelic and blues and rock and country and bluegrass. I kind of put it all together. But that’s pretty much Americana.
Your biggest musical and lyrical influences?
Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, James Taylor …those types of writers. … Obviously, B.B. King [who] I saw live. Those were a lot of my main influences.
Kinds of subjects you like to write about?
I like to write about subjects that are happening now. What’s going on in America, what’s going on in the world, relationships between man and God, but in a way that’s not religious or preaching but just kind of applicable to everybody universally. And the relationship between men and women, in a real way addressing our feelings, but not in a lowdown way. My main subject many times is trying to bring unity between people, how to be yourself but also be together with the world.
Talk about your relationship with Reb Shlomo Carlebach and this influence on your career and craft.
Yeah, I first heard of Shlomo Carlebach when I was hanging out with a homeless person in Central Park and he took me to where he was praying. And from there, two weeks later, I met Shlomo Carlebach and he really flipped over my soul. And he was just an incredible influence on me, spiritually and musically, in so many ways. He got me to go to the Holy Land.
How has living in Israel influenced your work?
Living in Israel just totally opens up your soul and really puts everything in a deeper light. There’s something unexplainable. You tap into an energy and a light … It’s a place that’s just much higher than understanding, and you just have to let go.
How does your solo work differ from your work as part of Reva L’Sheva and Yood?
Yeah, doing my own thing as Lazer Lloyd, it’s really all everything. I can do it my way, the way I want to, where the other things, Reva L’Sheva and Yood, they had parts of Lazer Lloyd in it but I had to take into consideration the desires of my partners. Here, it’s kind of like the real me, exactly how I want to be.
What’s different or unique about your latest album, “Backstreets”?
What’s unique about “Backstreets” is that it’s really many songs that are talking about what’s going on today in a way [that emphasizes] unity and also combining spirituality with love songs, but in a way that’s unique. I just feel that it’s a unique combination of combining country and blues and rock and folk music and all those things naturally blended.
Is touring in Israel different than touring in the United States?
Touring in Israel is no different than anywhere else. It’s people and it’s souls in front of you. You’ve got to want to try to make people laugh, get out of themselves, have a good time. And you also want to try to give something deep and engaging, where you’re not telling them anything but you’re helping them find something in themselves.
Alex Holt is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.