The Humble Kings band370.
(photo credit: Courtesy PR)
Remember Bob Hope and his frequent USO (United Service Organization) tours that
brought entertainers to US troops stationed in Viet Nam and other military hot
spots? They may not have the same name recognition as the legendary American
comic, but New York-based jam band the Humble Kings are following in his
footsteps, to a very different location – IDF bases in Israel.
the 35-year-old founder of the band, launched his own organization – the ISO
(Israel Service Organization) – in 2007 with the mission of supporting the IDF
by boosting their morale through music and other creative entertainment
“I had been playing with the band around New York since 2004
and I decided I wanted to take this music to Israel to perform there,” said the
Orthodox-raised New York native.
“The impetus was the Second Lebanon War
in 2006. I felt the need to be close to Israel and doing something to
Weiss and his fellow Jewish band mates made that desire a reality
the next year, performing their mix of trance, rock and reggae at clubs around
Israel At one show at a club near the Tzeelim army base in the South, the
audience consisted mostly of reserve soldiers.
“I saw how they reacted to
the music and it inspired me,” said Weiss. “It meant something to them that we
were there. And I said that the next time we come back to Israel, we’re going to
come as volunteers and play for the IDF so the soldiers know that they’re not
Upon his return to New York, Weiss spent countless hours
submerged in IDF bureaucracy as he attempted to make the right contacts to
crystallize his vision. And as most worthwhile endeavors are, it wasn’t an easy
task. Gone were the less stringent days of the Yom Kippur War when a young
Canadian folk singer named Leonard Cohen flew over and within hours was
performing for troops close to the front.
“I worked day and night and
kept getting the same response – ‘What you want to do sounds really niche but
it’s never been done before.
Good luck, but it’s never going to happen,’”
However, his persistence paid off and after reviews of
the music, background checks and other security considerations, the Humble Kings
arrived later in 2007 for seven shows at air forces bases, including Tel Nof and
Hatzerim. When one show was postponed due to joint exercises with the US Air
Force, an impromptu concert was arranged for a small group of infantry
“We absolutely fell in love with them. They’re in the field
with no recreation and they were so appreciative,” said Weiss.
return to New York, Weiss founded the ISO after realizing there was no apparatus
to arrange similar visits by American artists to perform for IDF
Through the organization, the Humble Kings returned to perform
in 2008, and are slated to come back for a series of shows from July 16 to
This time, the band will be performing together with various
IDF entertainment troupes including the Air Force Band. While there’s still a
fair share of bureaucracy involved, Weiss said that his track record is
beginning to speak for itself.
“It’s much easier working with the IDF now
that we’ve been there twice.
We’re a known commodity,” he
Besides Weiss on vocals, the band features Ben Hyman and Noah
Soloman on guitar, Mitch Friedman on bass and Andrew Frawley on
According to Weiss, the members all make a living making music in
various endeavors in the New York area, and are only paid a stipend when they
come to perform in Israel.
“We’re all able to say, ‘hey, I’m going to
take some time off and do something fun and something that’s going to make me
feel good and do something special for Israel and the Jewish people.’”