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Lazer Lloyd brings blues from the holy land
With his Hassidic attire and music inspired by "Rockin' in the Holy Land," Lazer Lloyd has cared out a niche as the "blues guy from Israel."
But he hopes that once people get beyond that they find it's more than mere schtick.
"I don't mind the tag, because I think the music that I do has that spiritual element, and Israel plays a strong role in that for me," Lloyd, 49, says by phone while traveling to a gig near Gaza. "I get a lot of feeling of oneness of the world and the depth of the music and the power of it, all of that comes from here.
"But I would never call myself a gimmick. The truth is, you can't get too far from a gimmick. I think I'm a talented guy, but there's so many great players out there you need an angle, so I don't mind. And if this is what gets people to listen, so be it."
Lloyd was born Lloyd Paul Blumen in New York (Eliezer, shortened to Lazer, is his Hebrew name) and was raised in Connecticut, where his father introduced him to blues and jazz music. He got hooked on the blues after seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan in concert and studied music at Skidmore College and was briefly signed to Atlantic Records, which had him ready to record with Garry Tallent of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. But the company didn't know what to make of Lloyd's wide-ranging musical style.
"I was a little bit like Bruce Springsteen, a little bit like Stevie Ray," Lloyd recalls. "The words were deeper, like Neil Young. They wanted me to find A sound; 'We've got to find out what is this Lloyd thing. We gotta maket he box smaller,' and it wasn't going to fit in a smaller box." When he decided to follow singing Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's advise to move to Israel, even Atlantic executives felt like it was the right move.
"They said, 'That might be a good thing. Come back as the blues guy from Israel. That would be a good story,'" says Lloyd, who resides near Jersusalem with his wife adn five children.
The story continues this year with the release of his new album, simply titled "Lazer Lloyd." The 12-track set includes 11 originals and his cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," and Lloyd feels it's the best representation so far of that "bigger box" he's pursuing.
"I'm always really afraid of the studio because I've always been a live player," he says. "I really like to go with the audience and the way the band moves and get that energy. Some artists live for the studio; I live for the live thing. I like the vibe of the moment, and this time I think we got it a lot better than I ever have."
8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3.
The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.
Tickets are $15.
Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.
Note: Lloyd returns to the area on Oct. 29 for a performance at the Berman Center For the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield. Visit www.jccdet.org for more details.
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