Lazer Lloyd’s still got the blues

The hassidic rocker talks about his new single in Hebrew, which he hopes will do its part in uniting the Jewish people.

Lazer Lloyd 370 (photo credit: Amit Alfonta)
Lazer Lloyd 370
(photo credit: Amit Alfonta)
Jewish rock star Lazer Lloyd has gone viral with his new single, “Ha’am Sheli” (My People).
Early in October, Lloyd released the song on YouTube as part of the Jewish Unity Music Project, which he created to spread awareness of the conflicts within different groups in Judaism.
The viral music video has more than half a million views, and the number is increasing.
Lloyd says the song is not meant to preach but to be an anthem and make people understand that “we must learn to get it together.”
The American-born musician grew up in Connecticut listening to rock and blues, on which he based his own style.
He started a blues and rock band called The Last Mavericks after returning home from college.
After being asked to perform with Shlomo Carlebach, he became religiously ob servant and moved to Israel to pursue his music career.
Lloyd has released several albums with different bands since 2007 when he formed the group Yood, and has integrated himself into Israel’s music scene as one of the country’s best guitarists.
His most recent album, which was released in August, is a solo acoustic album entitled Lost on the Highway.
Lloyd continues to tour and has concert dates scheduled around the country and is planning a larger tour in several countries abroad.
Lloyd’s single, for which he wrote the music and lyrics, features the voices of Aaron Razel, Naftali Kalfa, Gad Elbaz and Shlomo Katz.
“Katz represents a continuation of Rav Carlebach,” Lloyd tells The Jerusalem Post.
Some well-known musicians and friends of Lloyd were asked to be in the recording, but due to the message and the divide between Jewish groups, they declined.
“They loved it, but they were afraid... it has been so immense in the media, and it was sad for me,” he says.
The blues artist is very knowledgeable about the religious divide, having lived in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet for the past 14 years. Though Lloyd does have a fan base in Israel, he is still seen as an American guitarist.
“I feel like they see me as a chutz la’aretz... I want to break the barrier,” he says.
This is why “Ha’am Sheli” is a different style than his usual blues-rock style.
“Blues is not as popular here. I want your average guy on the street to be able to connect.
It’s spelling out Israel’s problems in Hebrew,” he explains.
Lloyd knew that if he gave the song a different sound and sang it in Hebrew, it would attract a larger audience of Jews and Israelis.
While the new single is not Lloyd’s usual style, his album Lost on the Highway did not stray from the artist’s genre. Lloyd, who was raised in a secular home listening to blues, and specifically recalls listening to B.B. King on his father’s radio, says that “blues was like my religion.”
Lloyd’s bands have recorded and performed electric blues albums; however, Lloyd decided to record an acoustic album.
“I like to just sit with an acoustic guitar. To me, that’s the real blues,” he explains.
But the album began when Lloyd was playing an acoustic guitar on the street one day. A man approached him and, impressed with the songs, complimented him on his unique, raw voice that went well with the pure acoustic sound.
“He called up and said, ‘I want to make an acoustic album with you,’” Lloyd recounts.
He still performs electric sets with his band, but while on tour he occasionally plays acoustic concerts solo, though his dream is to play both during his performances. His album debuted at number 10 on the blues charts in the US.
“Ha’am Sheli” has become the anthem of the Jewish Unity Music Project, which is expanding as the song gains popularity and spreads the message of peace through music throughout the Jewish world. Lloyd is working on his next album, which he hopes to release next year while he tours Israel.