Piece of her heart

Libi and her Flashback band will be channeling their love for Janis Joplin at 4th annual J'lem Woodstock Revival.

By
July 25, 2012 21:52
Singer Libi

Singer Libi 370. (photo credit: Tammy Salomon)

 
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Next week’s fourth annual Woodstock Revival event at the Kraft Stadium will offer Anglos, and similarly musically infused Israelis, another opportunity to shake a leg or two, and revel in those long-lost Sixties vibes, when free love, flower power and anti-Vietnam protests dominated the younger generation’s consciousness in most of the western world.

Each year since 2009 the event has attracted close to 2,000 people of all ages, and from all walks of life and religious leanings, to catch live acts that do their utmost to capture the sounds and vibes of some of the artists that made the 1969 three day festival on Max Yasgur’s farm such a watershed experience.

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While most of the artists who will appear at the Kraft Stadium on August 2 are far too young to remember those halcyon days, let alone the event itself, Libi not only remembers Woodstock, she almost joined the other close to half million faithful who made the long trek to Bethel, New York to catch the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin.

“I bought a ticket to the festival and put in my drawer and then, one day, I found it had been replaced by an El Al plane ticket,” says the 60-year-old Boston-born grandmother-of-two who goes exclusively by her given name, and will perform a program of Janis Joplin numbers at this year’s Woodstock Revival, along with her Flashback band.

Libi’s parents evidently thought it would be more beneficial for their 18-year-old daughter to come to this part of the world, for the first time, than to head off for the landmark pop-rock extravaganza. And it turned out to be a half-decent idea after all.

“I remember, on the plane, I sat next to another girl whose parents had also sent her to Israel and she cried all the way there,” recalls Libi. “But when we landed and got off the plane she kissed the tarmac.”

Libi was similarly taken with her first impressions of Israel.



“There was something about the air, the smell of the air, that got to me. I was overwhelmed.”

On that occasion the teenaged Libi came here for a few months of studies, and to soak up some of the vibes of a country that was still caught up in the euphoric aftermath of the Six Day War. Ten years later she came back to stay, and to leave her indelible mark on the Israeli rock scene.

“I was around doing my thing in the Eighties,” she says. “We were the first loud heavy rock and roll band with a female lead.”

Twenty-five years ago this was a far more conservative country than it is today, and the sight of a scantily-clad female singer putting out sensuous vibes by the bucket-load on stage must have been quite a shock to the national system. Quite simply, Libi caught Israel unawares.

“Oh my God, it was a real shock for everyone!” Libi notes with a chuckle.

“For a start we were the only people doing Rolling Stones songs on stage, and crazy stuff like AC-DC and Led Zeppelin.

I remember once I was getting ready for a show, and a fan of mine took me back to his house and his mother, this lovely Mizrahi woman, who was very provincial, had made a fantastic spread for us but, as I walked passed her in the hall, if she could have pressed herself further into the wall she would have done that. For her, I was so bizarre.”

But things have caught up with the then-bombshell queen.

“Now, I’m like white bread. Back then the material we did, with the [original] Flash band, was so controversial that we were not allowed to be on the radio. Supposedly a blacklist was made to put us on it.”

And it wasn’t just the musical side of the act that ruffled the Establishment’s feathers, there were some esthetic logistics to be navigated too.

“When I went to look for show clothes, I either had to make them myself or go to a sex shop, to get fishnet hose or something that I could make look like something I wanted to wear on stage.”

But the shock parameters have been shifted.

“Now, to do something that’s considered crazy, you’ve really got to think hard. But I’m not going to change the way I do things. Anyway, these days, retro is the thing.”

As any marketing executive will tell you, if you hang around long enough you come back into fashion.

“Exactly,” Libi concurs, “right now I’m in style.”

After strutting her stuff here for a couple of decades Libi headed back Stateside when her mother became seriously ill. She came back for good, with her daughter, son-in-law and twin grandchildren, a year ago.

“Four days after I got off the plane I was on stage at last year’s Woodstock revival. That was great,” she recalls.

Her show at this year’s Revival will be a blast from the past, in more ways than one.

“I was asked to do Janis [Joplin],” says Libi, “and I am happy to do so.”

It will be her first return to Joplin material since 1968, and she will have singer-songwriter Yael Deckelbaum on hand to ramp up the vibes even further.

“I am so excited about doing Janis again. I never do Janis Joplin, because she’s the only one, and I never want to attempt even getting near that, because she’s ‘that’ and there’ll never be another ‘that.’” In the end Libi was ready to revive Joplin’s ghost.

“I was told to do it for the Woodstock and I’m doing her, and Jimi [Hendrix]. I get to do the two best musicians in the world. It’s a great privilege.”

It will, surely, be a privilege to catch Libi do her inimitable thing at the Kraft Stadium on August 2, too.

For more information about the Woodstock Revival: www.woodstockrevival.com

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