Jane Bordeaux – Amir Zeevi, left, Doron Talmon and Mati Gilad – perform at the Chan Centre on May 1. (photo from Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver)
What better way to bring folks together in song and celebration of Israel’s 69th birthday than with folk music. And what better band to unite Diaspora Jews than one that writes and performs American-style country-folk songs in Hebrew!
Tel Aviv-based Jane Bordeaux – Doron Talmon, Amir Zeevi and Mati Gilad – will headline this year’s community Yom Ha’atzmaut concert at the Chan Centre on May 1, 7:30 p.m. The trio regularly plays to sell-out crowds.
Their debut album was well-received, with songs such as “Eich Efshar” (“How is it Possible”) and “Whisky” radio favourites, and the video of their song “Ma’agalim” (“Circles”) went viral. A second album is nearing completion and is expected to be released in June.
Talmon and Gilad met in 2012 at Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Ramat Hasharon, Israel. It was in a contest of original songs. “The idea was to perform some of my songs, and get some practical experience of a band format – you know, finding musicians, getting a name for the band and that sort of thing,” Talmon told the Jerusalem Post in a 2016 interview.
“We kept on playing after that one,” Talmon recently told the Independent, “and, when we needed a new guitar player, Amir, who’d been serving with Mati in the military band, had just returned from the U.S., and joined the band.”
Though the band has only been together five years ago, they have all been performing for much longer than that.
“I’ve been singing since I was a little child, always had the attraction to writing songs and singing them,” said Talmon. “After I returned from a long trip in South America, I decided to go and study music professionally, so I went to Rimon school for three years, learning music, songwriting and how to form a band, eventually.”
“I’ve been playing since I was 5, piano and then bass guitar,” said Gilad. “When I went to Thelma-Yellin arts high school in the jazz department, I started also playing the double bass. After high school, I served in the military in an army band and simultaneously studied at the Tel Aviv music conservatory. After the army, I started learning in Rimon school and was there for a year learning both classical, jazz and pop music.”
As for Zeevi, he has been playing the guitar for as long as he can remember. “My high school in Holon had a music major, that’s when I started taking the guitar more seriously, meeting great players and teachers,” he said. “In the army, I’ve played in the air force band and, after my release, I decided to go and learn music in the New School university in New York City, learning both jazz and country music.”
Usually, it is Talmon who comes up with the idea for a song, both the lyrics and melody, then the group starts playing with it, sometimes changing its harmony or structure, and building the arrangement. “Since we perform a lot,” they said, “we often try these new songs in shows, to get the feeling of what it is like to perform with them onstage and how does the crowd react, and each time improving and adjusting the song till it feels complete.”
In true country music fashion, many of Jane Bordeaux’s songs have to do with love and loss – ol’ American hurtin’ songs with a modern, Israeli twist.
“American folk-country, the way we see it, is storytelling, about the dark and the bright sides of life, wrapped in beautiful harmonies and joyful rhythm,” the band members agreed. “How can you not get excited from it? Also, we are addicted to the banjo’s sound and it’s going to feature a lot in our new album.”
“The songs are inspired from life, of course, mine and my friends,’” explained Talmon. “Sometimes, a song may be very close to a personal experience or feeling I had and, sometimes, it can be an idea I borrowed from a book I read or a movie I’ve seen, even a sentence I’ve heard.”
“Ma’agalim” is a bittersweet song about life: “It’s not me that’s progressing / It’s just the time that’s moving on.” The video features a wooden doll in a penny arcade. As the cylinder turns, she walks along her track, bundled up in a coat and scarf, passing people in various stages of life, from cradle to grave. Produced by Israeli animators Uri Lotan and Yoav Shtibelman, it really is a must-see (vimeo.com/ 162052542).
“The minute Uri and Yoav, the creators of the clip, showed it to us,” said the band, “we were so amazed by the beauty and sensibility of the video they made, so we can’t really say we were surprised that it went viral – we never had seen such animation before. We feel that there’s a unique connection between the music and the visuals that’s very moving, so people get excited by it, even without understanding the lyrics.”
No doubt a similar connection will be formed between the band and their audience in Vancouver, where they will sing in both Hebrew and English.
“It’s not going to be the same as in Haifa or Tel Aviv,” they said about the Yom Ha’atzmaut concert. “We love adjusting our set to best fit the place we are going to perform. Since the show date is Israel’s Independence Day, and we guess some of the crowd is English-speaking, in addition to our originals, we’re going to play some English covers and Hebrew all-time favourites – and even some special surprises for the Canadian crowd that obviously we can’t tell in here!”
The group starts their tour in Vancouver, then they have a few shows in North America, including one in Toronto.
“We are super-excited about the show in Vancouver,” they told the Independent. “It’s going to be the first show of our first tour outside of Israel and we’ve got a lot of great stuff planned specially for it, so we’re hoping to see you there!”
Tickets for the May 1 community celebration ($18) can be purchased at jewishvancouver.com/yh2017. In addition to this year’s co-sponsors – Canadian Friends of Hebrew University, Consulate General of Israel in Toronto, Georgian Court Hotel, the Jewish Independent and Jewish National Fund – the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver event is supported by 46 other community organizations.