Going with the tide

Anglo-Israeli musician Bradley Fish promotes his album abroad.

Bradley Fish 311 (photo credit: Dana Dekel Design)
Bradley Fish 311
(photo credit: Dana Dekel Design)
Bradley Fish says he hasn’t given up on his Israeli dream just yet, even though he’s leaving Jerusalem and heading back to the States. A few weeks ago, six years after moving to Israel from Madison, Wisconsin, Fish packed up his Jerusalem apartment to hit the road in a bigbody van, touring the United States and doing what he loves best – performing music for a living.
Fish spent the last several years living as a musician in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. During his time in the Holy City, he made a name for himself in the Anglo community producing and recording music, and giving private lessons – mainly on guitar but also on a range of instruments, from electric dulcimer to Chinese Zither. He also recorded three loop CDs for Sony and produced a series of Online videos, the latest of which shows him performing “live laptop looping,” in which he plays songs made up of several different instrumental tracks he plays on the spot in a simultaneous loop as he growls in a bluesy roar that could wake the Mount of Olives. His new album, Time to Rise, is a fusion of rock and ethnic music written in Israel and recorded in his Jerusalem recording studio.
In the nearly two decades Fish has been working as a musician he’s stacked up a resume as eclectic as the dozens of musical instruments, speakers, and odds and ends he managed to clear out of his Nachlaot apartment before his move this week.
In his previous lifetime, before making aliya, Fish earned a BA in jazz guitar from Northern Illinois University, where he studied under fusion guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque, who he said “completely kicked my ass.” Outside the halls of academia, Fish cut his teeth as a street musician and traveled the country playing college gigs and beer joints, festivals, theaters, and coffee shops, during a period he admits is often hard to vividly recall.
During those years, Fish recorded his debut album, The Aquarium Conspiracy, produced by Bjork/Sugarcubes drummer Siggi Baldurrsson, who also played on most of the tracks. He hit the road again and played with a consortium of “still-touring, somehow-still-alive” acts who had their heyday in the sixties, including Richie Havens, Big Brother and The Holding Co. and Hot Tuna (formerly Jefferson Airplane), before eventually performing to a crowed of over 70,000 at the closing ceremony of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Grant Park, Chicago, following a speech by the Dalai Lama.
BUT FISH may be best-known for the racy, barely kosher music video for his song “Jewish Girls Blues,” which has racked up nearly 800,000 hits on YouTube and hundreds of thousands more across the net since he posted it in 2007. Though Jerusalem is not a city known for its sense of humor, Fish said he was still taken aback by the strong emotions stirred by the video.
“A lot of people loved it, but I really pissed a lot of people off with that one!” Fish was also in a “supergroup” consisting of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Fox News anchor Mike Tobin, and ’50s pop icon Pat Boone, when Boone and Huckabee were visiting Israel in February. The jam sessions were aired live on Fox News, Fish roaring into the microphone onstage next to the squeaky-clean Boone in front of room full of American evangelical Christians at the David Intercontinental hotel.
“It probably cost me some of my old hippie fans, but it was a great experience,” Fish said.
In between the jam sessions, guitar lessons, and local gigs, Fish also managed to jam and record in the studio with a number of Israeli stars, including Arkadi Duchin, Rami Kleinstein, and Yehuda Poliker.
Fish reiterates that moving back to America doesn’t signal an end to his Zionist dream, but rather a perfect opportunity to promote his first album in 14 years. “If you were to make it playing gigs in this country, you’d have to do it every other night,” he said. “And it’s not that there’s a lack of venues – there’s just not that many venues for any type of music, where you could make a living playing gigs every night.”
He noted that he’ll probably be back after a few years of touring, especially considering the fact that he’ll “still be paying bituach leumi and health insurance.” He shrugs off any suggestion that Israel was too hard for him. “Dude,” he says, “it’s not that. I’m a musician, there’s gigs out there.”
And he adds, with a wink, “Playing in the states just means I’m a real Israeli musician now!” Bradley Fish’s new album, Time to Rise, will soon be available to download at www.bradleyfish.com for any donation amount. The site also houses Fish’s travel blog.