The Bar Papas, a small Jerusalem-based rock band founded by American olim, released their debut self-titled album just this week. However, while debut albums are usually put out by much less-experienced bands, this one has been in the making for a little over 20 years.
In 1998, Amihai Zippor and Shimshon Meir Frankel began their musical journey together when they met at the Jerusalem-based Yeshivat Darche Noam.
Eventually, their little collaboration began to mature. Needing a name, they chose "The Bar Papas" after the holy sages mentioned during a "siyum," a special ceremony that takes place following completion of a tractate of Talmud. The occasion is a simcha, a happy event, and "since happiness was what The Bar Papas wanted others to feel from listening to their music, what better place than a siyum to draw out the good vibes," the band writes on their website.
While their music has always been written by the band members themselves, their lyrics are taken directly from the pages of the Talmud. The band frequently claims "All words by Prophets and Rabbis. All music by the Bar Papas." You can listen to the band's music here.
In June ’99, Zippor and Frankel had collaborated on at least 10 songs and recorded them on cassette in the Darche Noam stairwell before heading back to the states for the rest of the summer. They chose the location because the yeshiva was on break and with few disruptions, the acoustics were too good to pass up.
Fellow yeshiva student, musician and friend Adam Margolis offered to play bass. Not long after, Zev Macklin, a drummer who was recommended by mutual friends, agreed to take on the project for a nominal fee and work with Margolis to guide the two guitarists.
Over the next several years, several band members were replaced, and the band had mainly performed in small neighborhood bars around Jerusalem, unable to find the time and resources to record their music. In 2007 however, the band finally began recording their first studio album, a project that took almost seven years to complete.
Once the album was completed however, the Papas ran into trouble finding a distributor. Only in September of 2020, last months, did the band make the announcement through Facebook that they would be releasing their album around Sukkot.
On Monday, October 4, their long journey finally came to a beginning.