It was a lovely late afternoon or early evening, a little cloudy and cool but still quite pleasant. A perfect evening for music. Segal had invited us to play at a function, an open house, or a party of some sort. It wasn’t at a bar as we had expected. While some people were milling around, there also were metal folding chairs for seating. Segal sang a few songs to a good response. Her voice was lovely, and it seemed she was a local star in her own right. As she finished, several people crowded around to congratulate her on her performance.
We followed Segal. Donna shook her ‘magic’ rainstick while I bashed out our assortment of the 60s and 70s rock and pop songs. A few people tuned into our playing and enjoyed what we did. The overall crowd was less interested in our performance since we were the musical wallpaper for the party.
Donna had set up a small table of our handmade jewelry, beaded and macramé hemp string bracelets, and necklaces. We also offered crystal pendants wrapped in silver wire. Several people browsed and even bought a bracelet or two. One man seemed particularly interested in us, asking where we were from. We told him, “Tennessee.”
“Oh, do you know ‘the Farm?’” He asked.
Of course, we did! We introduced ourselves, and the conversation took off from there. Avraham was from Oregon, and he and his wife commuted back and forth, splitting their time between living in Israel, and the U.S. He was interested in buying several necklaces and bracelets but requested we come to his house the next day to ensure they fit his wife correctly. We agreed and set the appointment.
The next day we caught a bus to their address and met his wife, Leah. There were minor adjustments that Donna quickly made. Afterward, we sat and got to know each other. Avraham is a professional aromatherapist with his own company “AvAroma.” He travels worldwide, carefully selecting and personally meeting his producers. Truly an innovator, he is pioneering landmark developments in the art, science, and practice of Aromatherapy. He gave us several samples of various healing oils. He then looked at us and asked, “Are you Jewish?”
“No,” we responded, a bit puzzled.
“Oh my,” with tears in his eyes, he continued, “You didn’t know it. The reason you have come to Israel is that you have Jewish souls. Let me explain. During the Holocaust, there were so many Jews killed and murdered that it would be impossible for them to all be reborn in Jewish bodies quickly. This is why some chose to return in the bodies of Gentiles! The two of you have Jewish souls. I can feel it!”
Throughout all of our travels in Israel, we had been unquestionably perceived as Jews. Perhaps this was why?
As our visit came to a close, Avraham said, “We will see each other again.” I was sure we would.
Some days later, we were busking at one of our favorite pitches when someone suggested we check out “Mike’s Place” for a place we might play. It wasn’t the first time this had been suggested, so we thought, why not? It wasn’t far, just down the hill. When we arrived, we entered the small bar and asked the bartender if we might play a few songs and pass the hat. He said, “Sure. Why not.” So, I pulled ‘Miss Guitara’ out of her bag, and Donna pulled her rainstick, ‘Miss Stick,’ out of her bag. We rocked the place for a few songs and we were soon offered drinks and tips.
The few patrons that were there were all foreign correspondents for international news outlets. “Yeah, this is our hangout,” someone said. Another chimed in, “Until the news happens!” They all laughed. I imagined some of these glassy-eyed reporters pulling it together to give their impression of the news on “Good Morning America.” Mike, the bartender/owner, suggested we come back on a day the place was more active and give it a proper show. That sounded good to us, and so it was arranged.
We made a set list in preparation for the gig at Mike’s. Starting with a couple of ‘rockers’ by the Rolling Stones, and then easing it into some Beatles. Throw in some funky stuff like James Brown and a Thomas Dolby tune called “Hot and Spicey.” Mostly songs from the 60s and 70s.
The day of the show finally arrived. As we busked during the week, we always told our listeners that we would play at Mike’s Place. We were excited. Dressing in our best tie-dye, we strolled into Mike’s Place and were happy to see that quite a few people had come to hear us, including Avraham!
Mike had set up a small sound system with a microphone. I set up my little amp, a chopped-up Peavey Solo with the speaker in a yellow hummus tub and a motorcycle battery which all fit nicely in a small backpack. I had installed a piezo pickup in the guitar while we were in the states because “Miss Guitara” isn’t terribly loud. Add a little Zoom effects unit, and I could rock out or get as spacey as I wanted. Donna unsheathed her rainstick from her case that she made out of what was left of an ornate piano cover that had been in her family for ages.
We greeted the audience, who welcomed us with a round of applause. “Good evening, everybody! We’re so happy to be here! Let the good times roll,” I said as we played the first few notes. The atmosphere was vibrant, and the audience was involved, clapping along with the music. We kept the energy up, skipping through the set list, picking the most rocking and funkiest songs! Avraham picked up a djembe and drummed along with us in the second set. The groove was strong, and the people loved it. It was a party!
We sat down for a drink with Mike at the night’s end. He was happy as he had a good night. The pay was good, and there was an offer for us to play another time, but our time in Jerusalem was coming to an end. We had other plans in mind.