Noah Solomon, the lead vocalist and musician for Soulfarm, wants his fans to know that his band’s new release has been pushed back for reasons beyond their control: Their recording studio in Pomona, N.Y., just north of New York City, lost power for over a week as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
But the delay is not keeping his band from their local performance, scheduled for Nov. 27 at Gratz College.
Natural disasters weren’t something Solomon had to worry about as a child growing up on the moshav Mevo Modi’im, east of Tel Aviv. According to him, one of the biggest problems facing kids in that musically rich village was what to do for fun if you didn’t play an instrument.
“If you weren’t musically inclined, you would be very bored,” recalls Solomon, who also plays guitar, mandolin and percussion for the band. “There wasn’t a lot else going on — there was only one bus a day.”
Musical inclination for Solomon was never an issue. He began playing at a young age, eventually sitting in on jam sessions with musicians of all ages, which is how he met Soulfarm’s co-founder, the guitarist C Lanzbom. As Solomon recalls, “We started just jamming. We began writing right away, and a year or two later, we moved to New York to make a band.” He says that, like so many of his musical contemporaries who ultimately decided to emigrate from Israel to New York, he wanted to create and work in the exponentially larger and more diverse environment of New York City. “In Israel, they tend to do things very seriously — a lot of discipline. That’s why there are a lot of jazz musicians, and it’s why jam bands never made it big there. People in Israel don’t even know who the Grateful Dead are, for the most part.”
The band’s music reflects its disparate influences, from Solomon’s exposure to his Yemeni classmates’ folk songs to his father’s (the composer/guitarist/ fiddler Ben Zion Solomon, of the seminal 1970s Israeli rock group, Diaspora Yeshiva Band) predilection for bluegrass and Celtic tunes to Lanzbom’s ongoing immersion in American blues. The result is a sound that Solomon describes as a rock band with Mediterranean and worldbeat influences.
Nowhere is that soundscape appreciated better than at a Soulfarm concert, acording to Rabbi Dovid Wachs, the executive director of Etz Chaim Center for Jewish Studies, which is sponsoring the band’s appearance. He first experienced the band when Solomon and Lanzbom performed at Etz Chaim’s annual gala this past spring at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
“They were phenomenal,” he remembers. “I had heard them before on CD, but then they came in and just blew us away — they were so talented.” So when the opportunity arose to book the full band for the center’s pre-Chanukah event, it was a no-brainer. Wachs, who declares himself to be “a big fan of Noah’s father’s band,” reasoned that “if two guys were so good, imagine if it was the whole band!”
One difference that fans of the band’s music will notice during their performance: They perform more songs in Hebrew live than on their recordings. Solomon says that this is a result of the band writing and recording fewer songs in Hebrew.
“We write almost exclusively in English now,” he explains, although he is quick to point out that they have been doing songs in Hebrew since the beginning. “On our first CD, we weren’t going to do anything in Hebrew. The producer said, ‘You guys are from Israel. It’s a great story. Why don’t you put a Hebrew song on there?’ And it really set us apart.”
For their concert at Gratz, Solomon says that fans can expect favorites from their back catalog, as well as a healthy dose of songs from the upcoming Blue and White — the delayed new release — including covers like the Beatles’ “Come Together” and the Rolling Stones’ “Shine a Light.”
What could be more appropriate for a pre-Chanukah concert?
If You Go:
Nov. 27 at Gratz College auditorium,
7605 Old York Road, Melrose Park
For information on times and tickets: