Jacob's Ladder Steps Up With New Artists

This year's festival promises a multinational mix of entertainment

Daphna Berman
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Daphna Berman

A Cajun dance workshop, fiddle classes and bluegrass gospel music from the Abrams Brothers, a teenage duo from Canada, will be featured at this year's Jacob's Ladder festival, slated to take place May 4 and 5 at Nof Ginasar along the Kinneret.

The weekend festival, popularly known as "the Anglo Mimouna," will include 35 acts on five stages, with performances from blues to bluegrass and Irish to country. More than 3,000 music lovers from around the country are expected to attend the festival, which has been running for 31 years.

"We have a lot of the same great returning artists, but also made sure to bring in new artists who have never appeared at the festival before," said Yehudit Vinegrad, who together with her husband Menachem, has organized Jacob's Ladder since its inception.

She said this year will include the festival's first gospel group on a main stage, as well as a number of young up-and-coming musicians who will be performing original pieces.

The Abrams Brothers, who were recently awarded the 2006 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, which was handcrafted in honor of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, will be headlining the festival.

The boys - John, 16, and James, 13 - play fiddle, mandolin, guitar, upright bass, banjo and resophonic guitar (dobro).

John and James first began performing on the Canadian music scene seven years ago and will be joined onstage here by other family members, including their father Brian, who plays rhythm guitar and a cousin, Elijah, also 16, who plays upright bass.

Gypsy tunes, Jewish music and some Tai Chi

Other performances include the local Irish group Evergreeen, a reunion for the group The Taverners and U.S. folksinger and guitarist Steve Suffet. The Jerusalem-based group Elki-Palki, which plays Balkan and gypsy tunes, and Jill Rogoff, who will perform a variety of Jewish music, will also be on stage.

The event, which kicks off on a Friday afternoon, will also include a folk-style kabbalat Shabbat service, dance workshops, an Irish pub, and children's activities, as well as yoga, Tai Chi and a number of holistic treatments.

Menachem and Yehudit Vinegrad, who immigrated from England, settled in Kibbutz Machanayim in 1967. They were joined by other British and American newcomers who missed the folk and protest music from back home. The Jacob's Ladder Folk Club, and later the festival, were born soon after.

The name of the festival is based on a combination of Kibbutz Machanayim's connection to the biblical story of Jacob, as well as the fact that the word "ladder" in Hebrew, sulam, also refers to a musical scale.

For details or to order tickets, see www.jlfestival.com or call (04) 685 0403

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