Jewish World Review March 12, 2002 / 28 Adar, 5762

Down on the Soulfarm

By Paul Wieder | The hard rock album "Scream of the Crop." The New Age album "Meditations." The country-rock album "Live in Berlin 2." The harmonic pop album "Skyland." The Irish environmentalist album "Butterfly."

A list of the recent Grammy nominees? No, the current musical releases of one man... C Lanzbom. Lanzbom is a performer whose prolific output is matched only by his versatility. Even within the space of one song, his guitar will shift from driving Southern blues-rock to shifting Middle-Eastern harmonies. The different albums are for different audiences, he explains.

There are Lanzbom's solo projects, his releases with his long-time friend Noah Solomon, and then the Soulfarm CDs, "Live at Wetlands" and "Scream of the Crop." Soulfarm being Lanzbom, Solomon, and three other musicians. Skyland is yet another band of his, with David Sky and C Lanzbom (get it?). Also, Soulfarm used to be called "Innasense," and the albums released under that name are still available.

Lanzbom has been playing guitar since he was "a little kid," he says. He has lived in Vermont, Florida, and Israel, becoming a session musician at 18. Since, he has lived in New York and Los Angeles as well.

His musical influences reflect a similarly wandering spirit. Lanzbom admires the music of Windham Hill founder William Ackerman, space-age acoustic guitar virtuoso Michael Hedges... and the Diaspora Yeshiva Band. He has played with David Broza in Italy and with Paul Pena, who wrote the Steve Miller hit "Jet Airliner." He has also played at birthday parties for Carlos Santana and Bob Dylan.

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's music, however, offers the opportunity to play melodies with real depth, he finds. Lanzbom was one of Carlebach's regular guitarists for years, and still performs and records this composer's music regularly in many of his various bands, duos, and solo efforts.

Still, as much as it is part of his public performance, his Judaism is "private." He will say that it is "who, what I am," and that he feels "connected to my roots."

As for his views on the situation in Israel, he is similarly circumspect with his views, allowing only that he believes that, "politics don't hold the key." He expresses his emotions on the situation better through his music. His album with Noah Solomon, Butterfly, is dedicated to a friend who became a terror victim.

The album's name reflects Lanzbom's concern in another area, environmentalism. The title comes from the name of Julia Butterfly Hill, who tried to save a redwood tree by actually living in it, on a treehouse-like platform, for two years. Butterfly features Hebrew songs by Nachman of Breslov and Shlomo Carlebach, some of which are set to Irish melodies. Lanzbom sees both Jewish and Irish traditions as being "connected with the land."

Lanzbom's frequent collaborator, both within and outside of Soulfarm, is Noah Solomon. They met in Israel while living on a moshav between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They formed a band, performing American rock, but with a more song-oriented approach than the jam band Soulfarm has.

Solomon's fond of Dylan, too, and Van Morrison. But his Jewish ties run deep- he lived in Israel from ages 4-19, moving to the US in 1991- and they shine through in his music as well. Solomon originally became interested in Jewish music through the experimental klezmer ensemble the Klezmatics, and is friends with its trumpet player, Frank London, now a major figure in avant-garde Jewish music. In addition to his work with Lanzbom, Solomon has played on the recordings of Neshama Carlebach, Shlomo's daughter.

Although Soulfarm has been compared to Phish playing Carlebach, Solomon is even more broad in his description, "everything from bluegrass to Pakistani." And sometimes, both at once.

He has played to thousands in Israel and throughout Europe and America, but Solomon's dream is to play Madison Square Garden.

Which seems almost small, when the whole world is Soulfarm's stage.

JWR contributor Paul Wieder is a public relations associate at the Jewish United Fund and a columnist for JUF News. Contact the author or the magazine by either clicking here, or calling (312) 444-2853.


© 2002, JUF News