An unusual thing happened to Lloyd Paul Blumen on his way to Nashville to start his recording career: He went to Israel instead.
Blumen transformed himself to Lazer Lloyd, Hasidic bluesman.
“I’m a crazy Jew, rocking in the Holy Land,” he sings on his self-titled album. “This is where I stand, this is part of God’s plan.”
The song, “Rockin’ In The Holy Land,” is Lazer Lloyd’s answer to Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, although his voice sounds more like Eddie Vedder.
The 12- track album has 11 originals and a cover of Otis Redding’s “The Dock of the Bay.” Lazer Lloyd’s delivery is immediate. His guitar work is solid and the lyrics he sings are direct, often passionately describing his faith.
It’s one thing to be a student of the blues, which began as gospel, and it’s another to be able to release the emotion to make it authentic. Lazer Lloyd does both.
The album opens with a ramble through the Hill Country with “Burning Thunder,” visits Wes Montgomery with jazz chords on “Moroccan Woman,” and drops in on ’60s psychedelic rock with “Set My Soul Free” and “Love Yourself.” Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix’s influences can be heard throughout this exceptional album.
The highlight is “Suffering,” a heartfelt Hasidic blues rap. Lazer Lloyd’s music is believable, and that’s even before learning about his personal life. He has spent time touring while his wife and five children were at home holed up in a bomb shelter.
Lazer Lloyd is a combination of his two names. His Hebrew name is Eliezer Pinchas Bluemen, and Lazer is short for Eliezer. He grew up in Connecticut and began to perform in nightclubs when he was 15. He studied music at Skidmore College from, among others, Milt Hinton, who played bass with Louis Armstrong.
Atlantic Records arranged at showcase for Lazer Lloyd in New York and had planned to move him to Nashville to work with Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band producer Garry Tallent. However, Lazer Lloyd states in press materials, “Man makes plans and God laughs. From a strange twist of meeting a homeless man in New York City’s Central Park, I played a concert with a hippie rabbi (Shlomo Carlebach), who convinced me to play with him in Israel to check it out and I fell in love, so I’m there more than 20 years.”
Lazer Lloyd apparently has crossed over into Israel’s mainstream music scenes, which is rare for a blues player to do in the United States. He will tour extensively in this country this summer and fall with his nearest Tahoe appearance being at San Francisco’s Biscuits and Blues on July 12.
On his terrific new album, Lazer Lloyd sings “Circumcise my heart” on the track “Set My Soul Free.” The songs on the CD doubtless will be an inspiration for many but for others they might be too much about God. But there is no question about the passion and musicianship of Lazer Lloyd, the holy rock and roller from Tel Aviv.
- Lazer Lloyd
Label: Lots of Love Records
Release: June 9, 2015
Notable tracks: “Suffering,” “Burning Thunder,” “Set My Soul Free