Kol Ha Ir (Jerusalem)By Hadara Lin Ardi
Johnny Mayer sends a message of world brotherhood through blues from
his website. He also has a suggestion - 'play music instead of
Blues for Peace is a movement that begins with one person, that is holding
a special program today at theYellow Submarine called "Faith, Hope and the
Blues". The man behind this blues is Johnny Mayer from Milwaukee,WI father of
Liat and Yonat. He will be accompanied by the Yitzhak Yedid Quartet with
Yitzhak Yedid, piano, Yulia Feldman, vocals, Assaf Hakimi, bass and Ronen
Mayer, an internet expert, works for a living at internet marketing. He is
a bluesman in his soul, or as he likes to put it, "the Hoochie, Coochie PR
Man." He grew up in the turbulent 1960’s, in a traditional family and was
drawn to Chicago blues.
He got the Israel bug after meeting a couple of pretty girls at a Young
Judea meeting. "The minute I walked in the door, I saw the two most beautiful
girls I had ever seen in my life standing there and playing guitar, so I
stayed with Young Judea until I was seventeen and wound up in Jerusalem."
Mayer fell in love with the country, but returned to finish a degree in
Hebrew and Music education at the University of Wisconsin. In 1975, he
returned to Israel and taught music in Or Yehuda on the Sherut LaAm program.
He also met Shlomo Artzi and was invited to perform with him in the 1976
Israel Song Festival. "I lived in student quarters in Ramat Aviv and Shlomo
would come by every more at 10:00 AM to rehearse."
Meantime he got married, spent ten years in the US and in 1988 returned to
Israel with his two daughters. He became a music teacher and then the idea of
blues as a music- social framework began to grow.
"It started with a dream I had on Kibbutz Gonen in 1970 … I was
asleep in a dorm room when all of a sudden soldiers burst into the room and
starting shooting at us. Instinctively I reached in to my shirt pocket, took
out my harmonica and threw it at the soldiers." The dream has stayed with me
and I feel that Blues for Peace helps me share the dream with people all over
the world through the website.
What is our blues? "Our blues is
the history of the Jewish people. Blues is not just feelings of loss and
suffering, but like music itself, its' also the joy."
The "Blues for Peace" website is in fact very simple, clean, free of
gimmicks, a bit scattered and very eclectic. A kind of link between Mayer’s
dream and a search for peace in general. In that spirit, the site offers a
strange mix of blues mp’s, a few words on famous people starting with social
activists, through musical idols (Jimi Hendrix) and to writers and poets (beat
It also contains pages about Afro-American history, Mid-East peace efforts
and the ecology. Despite the unusual mix, the site receives thousands of
visitors each month.
Mayer. "Isn’t it time people stopped fighting and learned to play twelve
bar shuffles instead?" Seriously, why didn’t we think of this before?
‘Faith, Hope & the Blues’, Yellow Submarine, Friday, 12:00 PM.
December 1, 2000 translated from Hebrew
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