Decking it out

Popular singer/songwriter Yael Deckelbaum will be channeling her love of Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell on Thursday night at the third annual Woodstock Revival in Jerusalem.

Deckelbaum 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Deckelbaum 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yael Deckelbaum should be used to appearing at music festivals – she’s been doing it since she was three years old. “I grew up on the laps of the Taverners,” she said last week, bringing up the name of the legendary Israeli country/folk band that her father, the late banjo player David Deckelbaum, founded in 1976.
“I wasn’t only exposed to the music, but I ended up being part of the music, playing on stage with them since I was a young girl.”
Although the band continued to set the standard for Anglo acoustic music in the country over the next few decades, performing at the Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival over 20 times, they packed up their instruments in 2002 when David returned to his native Canada.
Well before that, though, it was clear that the younger Deckelbaum had received the musical torch and was going to carry on the family tradition, enhanced by her own musical discoveries.
“The first music I loved came from my father, but when I was a teenager, I started on my own discovering the artists that have affected my life – The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin,” said the 32- year-old Deckelbaum as she drove to Tiberias for a Friday night show.
”I was amazed the first time I heard Janis – it was my first real connection to an artist. I was a lost teenager, and her rock & roll and blues really spoke to my soul at the time, I felt that I could really relate to her pain and music.”
Deckelbaum will be channeling her love of Joplin and Mitchell on Thursday night for the second consecutive year at the third annual Woodstock Revival taking place at Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem.
Although she generally performs her own material – culled in part from her 2009 English language album Ground Zero, as well as her upcoming album in Hebrew, Joy and Sadness, Deckelbaum said she loves to pay tribute to her two favorite artists whenever possible.
“The only artist who’s come close to Janis for me is Joni,” she said.
“And I’ve actually been attached to her over a longer period of time. She’s evolved so much as an artist over the years and always provides something new to discover and get excited about. That element of surprise and not compromising her art is something I really admire.”
Fans of Deckelbaum tout the same qualities in her work, whether rocking out with blues, singing blueeyed folk and pop with her bell-like voice, or performing as one third of the successful world music vocal trio Habanot Nechama with Karolina and Dana Adini.
Deckelbaum needs an annotated date book to keep her schedule straight, having recently returned from a tour of Germany with the trio, recorded Joy and Sadness and now crisscrossing the country with live performances.
DECKELBAUM SAID that she loves performing but that the life of a working musician in Israel is not easy.
“It’s a small country and you run out of opportunities and places to play,” she said.
“Your potential audience is restricted and smaller than even a tiny European country. There, you can drive out of England, say, and tour around to other countries.”
Her decision to record her first Hebrew album flies in the face of the countless number of Israeli artists who are attempting to establish an international career by singing in English.
“I realized that if I’m planning on staying in Israel, then I need to perform in the language of the place where I’m living,” she said.
“Singing in English is great if I want to tour outside of Israel, but it doesn’t really help get more shows being bilingual.”
Of course, it helps at the Woodstock Revival, which is quickly becoming a Jerusalem tradition. In addition to headliner Deckelbaum, the lineup includes the long-haired jam band Tree, who last year took on The Who, performing the songs of the Grateful Dead, Long Time Gone, usually perfecting their Crosby, Stills and Nash harmonies, tackling the classics of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and veteran local legend Libi & The Flash returning to Israel for a set featuring Joe Cocker and Cream.
“I had a great time last year – I love the whole idea of commemorating that festival and there were definitely Woodstock vibes there,” said Deckelbaum, who said she would repeat last year’s scintillating collaboration with Tree on a couple songs.
Deckelbaum said she was also looking forward to reuniting with Libi, who was one of her formative influences back in the days when the singer and the Taverners used to share bills.
“She was such a rock star when I was a kid. She used to headline the Jacob’s Ladder festival and she was amazing, larger than life. I really admire her,” said Deckelbaum.
With a lineup rounded out by Pritzat Disc, performing Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix, and Clare Dane & Graffiti offering Woodstock highlights, this year’s festival, which benefits American Football in Israel league, promises to build on the success of the first two shows.
Promoter Nadia Levene pointed out that the attractions of the previous festivals, including booths, juggling, face painting, a “best dressed hippie” competition, along with a raffle which this year contains two original tickets and photos from 1969’s iconic Woodstock event at Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York.
Be sure to get there on time for an opening set by The Jerusalem Post’s own Natan Galili, with an acoustic set of Bob Dylan songs. Unlike the original artist, Galili promises to say hello and thank you.
Tickets are available at or at (02) 623-6433.