Blaze: The bar where everyone knows your name

Bands come from all over Israel to perform at Blaze for free, just to be in such a welcoming and fun atmosphere and, of course, to be greeted by Yehi.

By TRACEY SHIPLEY
August 15, 2019 09:36
3 minute read.
Blaze: The bar where everyone knows your name

A jam session at Blaze. (photo credit: TRACEY SHIPLEY)



There is a music bar in Jerusalem that defines the capital city. Its name is Blaze Bar, located in the center of town in what was once called the Rosco building.

Seemingly tucked away at the end of a passageway across from the well-known Dublin Bar, Blaze is a place where you will find music lovers from all backgrounds. Every night has live music except for Friday nights since they are closed on Shabbat. Yehi Zaken, founder and owner of Blaze, is one of the kindest most modest men you will ever meet. His family came from Kurdistan many years ago, and at least three of the brothers are musicians.

Yehi himself has three heavy metal bands that not only play all over Israel, they have played worldwide. Friends who have traveled with him to Eastern Europe are shocked to hear natives yelling out his name. Yehi is someone you meet only once and never forget.

What makes Blaze Bar so special? You enter the passageway leading up to Blaze and you see a variety of customers sitting outside, discussing everything from philosophy and politics to music. You see tables with secular looking “metal heads” sitting with Haredi looking and national religious people, older musicians excited to frequent a place that looks like a rock den, soldiers happy to have a second home to greet friends when back on leave, older customers who enjoy the banter of younger people, hipsters, and young musicians awaiting their turn to go on stage on open mic or jam nights, or awaiting the next band to play. You hear Hebrew, English, Russian and even Czech, and sit amazed that everyone finds a common language. That common language is a love of music.

Blaze began almost 10 years ago when Yehi saw that his bands had no place to perform in Jerusalem. He knew it was the same for many other local and national bands, and decided that this was his opportunity to fill this void.

“There is no Jerusalem band formed within the last decade that didn’t start on my stage” says Yehi. “Last month a local musician who is now well-known came back to Blaze for a reunion performance. At the end of his set he shared his memories of being a young musician scared to death to perform on open mic night in front of an audience, and how because of Blaze, he received the support he needed to move forward in his music career.

Bands come from all over Israel to perform at Blaze for free, just to be in such a welcoming and fun atmosphere and, of course, to be greeted by Yehi.

Contrary to popular belief, Blaze is not a metal bar though he does give metal bands a stage a couple times a month including Diasphera, one of his own bands. Yehi is also known as the main organizer of Metal Festivals around the country. However at Blaze you will find bands with every musical background out there – you can hear jazz, blues, rock and folk all within one week, and sometimes on one night. Jam nights allow novice musicians to get the experience they need on stage as do the open mic nights. Whereas Blaze is a bar, customers flock to Blaze for the music, the company, and most important, a warm welcome, smile and hug from Yehi.

I am of the older generation who cannot just show up at any bar and feel comfortable. Only at Blaze can I feel at home surrounded by so many young people who know they can always turn to me to talk, for a hug or for a new project to be involved in. All of my music projects involve Blaze or Yehi, who actually coined the name of my alcohol-free bar “Sobar.” Blaze will also be the home of our Jerusalem School of Rock.

So, if you are looking for a place to feel at home, hear great music, meet interesting and good people all in an atmosphere that screams of music and creativity, visit Blaze. You won’t be sorry!

As a part of the Blaze rebirth, a two-day Woodstock festival will be held from August 29-30 at the Silo http://picdeer.com/silocafejlm with more than 20 bands performing to honor 50 years since the original Woodstock. Funds raised will be donated to alcohol-free and smoke-free events for youth at the Blaze Bar.

Tracey Shipley is a youth and family counselor specializing in addictions. For more information, see her website at www.jerusalemteencounseling.net


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