More than one way to play the blues

Acoustic guitarist Lazer Lloyd is a master of multi-tones and harmonics.

Lazer Lloyd 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lazer Lloyd 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Afew weeks after performing his first acoustic solo show at the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem, Lazer Lloyd was beaming.
“You have to listen to this,” he said, handing over a homemade Lazer Lloyd Unplugged CD, a recording of the July show.
On the tracks, including a slew of originals as well as covers of Bob Dylan’s “All along the Watchtower” and The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” it sounds like a symphony of guitars creating multitones and harmonics. But it’s actually only Lloyd, the gifted singer/songwriter from the haredi neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh who, with his band Yood and on his own, has slowly established himself as the country’s premier blues guitarist.
“I didn’t even know that the technician at the sound board was recording the show. But when I got home, it was ‘Wow!’ there are some things there I really liked,” said Lloyd. “I’m going to keep some of the live tracks and rerecord some of the other material in the studio.”
The result will make up the content for a follow-up to an album that is ironically only being released next week – Lloyd’s first solo acoustic effort, Faith in the Blues.
Described by Lloyd as “very personal, traditional and laid back,” Faith in the Blues, featuring the singles “Lost on the Highway” and “Jericho Blues,” got its inspiration from sporadic mini-sets Lloyd would perform during his band shows.
“For the last couple of years, I would do an acoustic number or two in the middle of our shows, and some people seemed to like it better than the rocking out blues electric thing.
Then about a year ago, someone said, ‘Wow! We like this so much, why don’t you make an album?’” Lloyd said the finished work was his first album he was really satisfied with.
“There’s really something pure about it.”
The surprise came, however, when he began performing solo acoustic shows throughout the summer in anticipation of the album’s release.
“When I got in front of an audience, I found something a little more powerful.
I tuned my guitar three steps down and used other special tuning, and I figured out all these ways to make a big sound.
People hear it and think it’s three guitars.”
The enthusiastic response – and standing-room-only audiences – to the acoustic shows have reminded Lloyd of something that he’s always known: There’s more than one way to play the blues.
“I’ve realized that a lot of people like the blues, but sometimes, for example, when they go online and listen to my electric stuff, it seems too heavy,” he said. “When I do my band show, I tend to stretch into Allman Brothers and Jimi Hendrix territory. For some people that’s too much; they want to have purer blues.
That’s what they’ll get – plus a lot more – when Lloyd holds his record release parties next week for Faith in the Blues on September 12 at Cafe Avram in Jerusalem and September 15 at Mama Lamish in Tel Aviv, which he described as a ‘Sheinkin-style cafe on King George Street that’s run by Chabad guys.’” It seems like the acoustic side of Lloyd is here to stay, as even during his full band shows he’s continuing to perform a few solo numbers in the middle.
”I want people to see that other side of me,” he explained. “My favorite show of all time was Neil Young. He came out and played acoustic for 40 minutes and then came on with the band and totally rocked out. Baruch Hashem, that’s the way I like it.”