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Guitar player and songwriter, Michael Chapman. .(Photo by: courtesy)
Guitar virtuosos Ryley Walker and Michael Chapman team up with local hero Ehud Banai
By DAVID BRINN
03/14/2019
During a week of performances in Israel in 2013, Chapman met Banai, one of Israel’s most inventive songwriters and performers.
Ehud Banai cut his musical teeth back in the ‘70s listening to people like Michael Chapman, who emerged from the same musical gene pool as acoustic-style singer/songwriters like John Martyn, Nick Drake and Roy Harper. A guitarist’s guitarist, Chapman’s 1970 album, Fully Qualified Survivor, with the classic tune “Postcards of Scarborough,” still stands as a high-water mark for British rock.

During a week of performances in Israel in 2013, Chapman met Banai, one of Israel’s most inventive songwriters and performers. They immediately connected through their mix of cultures and have since toured together, combining Middle Eastern chords, Chapman riffs and Hebrew lyrics. In 2017, they released a collaborative album, inventively titled EB=MC2.

Chapman’s cult status has suited him well, and he hasn’t been ignored by subsequent generations. In 2012, a tribute album of his songs called Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done: Friends Play Michael Chapman was released, and featured the likes of Lucinda Williams and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore offering heartfelt versions of Chapman classics. For Chapman, it was the sweetest of vindications of the timeless quality of his music.

“It always nice to think that your music will last,” Chapman told The Jerusalem Post before his 2013 show at Club Uganda in Jerusalem, where he wowed the rapt audience with his performance. “Fully Qualified Survivor only took four days to record because we were broke, and people are still buying it. It’s never been out of print, so I must have done something right.”

The 77-year-old Chapman is continuing to do something right, along with the 66-year-old Banai. They’re renewing their partnership on June 1 at the Barby Club, with a youthful shot of energy provided by another guitar hero, Ryley Walker.

With a style that sounds like he grew up on the British Isles instead of the Michigan Great Lakes where he was raised, the 27-year-old virtuoso has been favorably labeled as a throwback to the pure sounds of Chapman, Drake, acoustic guitar giant John Fahey, and perhaps his closest antecedent, Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison.

“I didn’t grow up in a musical family, so I had to find out about all these people on my own,” Walker told the Post in 2015, before arriving in Israel for a week of well-received shows, including a set at the InDnegev Music Festival. He returned the following year to play at the Barby.

The show is billed as a Michael Chapman concert featuring guests Banai and Walker, with Walker also doing a separate solo set.

 Tickets for this not-to-be-missed show are available at barby.co.il, or by calling 03-518-8123.




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