Festival Review: Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival

Jacob’s Ladder is a marketing executive’s dream.

Jenny & Gilad 370 (photo credit: Ya’arah Nahar-Davis)
Jenny & Gilad 370
(photo credit: Ya’arah Nahar-Davis)
Jacob’s Ladder is a marketing executive’s dream. It has been around so long – 35 or so years – that it has become a fixture in the cultural calendars of thousands of Israelis up and down the country. That and more.
The festival is about far more than traipsing from show to show, at the various performance spots inside the hotel and in the hotel grounds, to catch some fun, quality entertainment. At the end of the day it is the patrons themselves that make Jacob’s Ladder what it is. It is the people that go to Nof Ginnosar for the spring festival and the smaller winter edition that give the festival its special energy.
Last weekend’s Spring edition of the festival, as usual, delivered on all fronts. There was rip-roaring entertainment by acts such as the Heeby Gee Bees, which occupied the midnight slot on Friday night and had the packed lawn crowd rocking and jiving. Naturally, there was plenty of Celtic music endeavor, including the Bodhran band which mixed Irish and Scottish airs with numbers from this part of the world, while the Shmemel troupe gave its all with a high octane mix of rock, funk, groove and hassidic music.
Meanwhile, inside the hotel, the Hermon Hall hosted several quality acts, including the Jenny & Gilad acoustic folk-rock indie twosome, polished retro couple Larry and Mindy with hits from the Sixties and Seventies, and down and dirty Chicago bluesman Delmark Goldfarb.
Goldfarb is the real deal, with his repertoire of blues standards and original material, and even brandished a floor plank he salvaged from late iconic bluesman Muddy Waters’ house and with which he “knighted” a number of Jacob’s Ladder performers and patrons, yours truly included.
There were plenty of familiar faces, both in the crowds and on stage, with the latter including guitarist-harmonic player Shai Tochner who performed a program of material originally recorded by the likes of Bob Dylan and Leaonard Cohen with dulcet-toned young singer Maya Johanna Menahem.
The program also featured some more active forms of entertainment, including a packed Singing in Harmony workshop with Dianne Kaplan and son Edan, a harmonica workshop with Dov Hammer, the ever-popular banjo workshop with American artist Mike Scott and the staple and often hilarious square-dancing slot with Cyrelle Forman Soffer.
But, possibly, the most charming element of the festival is the way people get together all over the place to jam together. The hotel lobby generally had at least three jam sessions running simultaneously, with enthused amateur musicians playing Celtic music, rock numbers, folk, you-name-it together, and there were similar gatherings by the tents and on the grass next to the hotel throughout the day, and night.
And with the lake so much closer, after the welcome winter rain, the festival made for a perfect weekend. Roll on the Jacob’s Ladder Winter Weekend on December 14 and 15.