Jewish Rockers 'Soulfarm' on Israeli Tour

Interview with Shlomo Carlebach inspired musicians in Israel and the diverse influence of Jewish music.

Ben Bresky,

Soulfarm CD cover
Soulfarm CD cover

Soulfarm will perform a series of concerts in Israel. The band was one of the first in the 1990s to develop a post-Shlomo Carlebach jangly rock sound.

Members Noah Solomon and C Lanzbom met on Moshav Mevo Modiin in Israel where they learned from the influential rabbi and musician, Shlomo Carlebach. After moving to New York City they formed Inasense. The band later evolved into Soulfarm with drummer Mark Ambrosino and bassist Jeff Langston and continues to tour extensively.

Although Solomon and Lanzbom have been to Israel many times, this is only the second time the full band has been to Israel together. Israel National Radio caught up with the band to discuss their tour.

Question: So tell us a little about what Soulfarm is.

Noah: We are basically a rock band with world beat influences. C and I met in Israel at the moshav (farm), and my parents still live there.

Question: So what is Israel like so far?
We played the exact same music to an audience that had no idea who Shlomo Carlebach was and it was very well

Mark: I think it's really important to see it for ourselves. I'm from New York. We only get a filtered version through the media and that's only a small piece of the pie. To get the full picture you have to get it for yourself.

Question: You have at least one or two Carlebach songs on every album.

C Lanzbom: We all have different connections to Shlomo. I met him in the 80s and he brought me to Israel, and I met everybody on the moshav. He was a great, great teacher, and I was very taken with all of his learnings as well as his music. I played with him often.

Question: Did your music change after your Israel experience? Are you playing the same style?

C Lanzbom: Basically I was just a rock musician and after I met Shlomo, I saw what Jewish music could be. He was really one of the foremost Jewish composers out there. So that influenced me a lot and a lot of the regular Israeli music as well. I had a chance to play with a lot of the Israeli starts. That had a profound influence.

Question: If a regular guy saw Soulfarm you might not know it's Jewish.

Mark: Most people don't know where that music is coming from. They're very exposed to Latin music or bluegrass or different genres throughout the world, but Middle Eastern or Jewish music is so varied. We've adapted Shlomo's music and people love it. And it doesn't matter if it's Jewish or not, it touches them. It's great writing.

Noah: I think the reason his music works as opposed to other music is its simplicity. If you've heard it once through, you can join in and sing. That translates. Music transcends all barriers. We've played Shlomo's music in the middle of South Carolina, where no one would have any idea what that is and it still works.

Mark: In New York we have very large Jewish following. It may be possible to perceive the band as a Jewish band but in July we went to the Caribbean and we played the exact same music to an audience that had no idea who Shlomo Carlebach was or even that it was Jewish music and it was very well received. So it is Jewish music but it's also just music that anyone can relate to.

Question: What about the other songs - the English songs? Where do they come from?

C Lanzbom: We write about everything that we experience day to day. Most of it is about personal experiences or stories, feelings and emotions influenced by whatever we have gone though. So if there's something that's perceived as Jewish, that's why. We don't intentionally sit down to write any genre. We've almost been accused of being too much that way where every song is different, but that's just the way we write, and who we are. We're four different people and we grew up with different music and together it creates something new and exciting for us.

Noah: Every once in a while we write a song about specific things. When Jeff writes it's usually about something specific and often politics in the world. I wrote a song about my neighbor Aish Kodesh Gilmore who was murdered here in Israel in 2000.

Question: Why did you change your name from Inasense?

C Lanzbom: There's no great story. We just had a change in band members of the band and we had some uncertainty. We bumped into someone who threw out that phrase and it stuck. It fits our style of music because that's what we're trying to do, we're trying to feed our souls.

Soulfarm will be performing in Israel at the following locations:

Wednesday Aug. 13th  at the Shablul Music Club  in Tel Aviv, Thursday Aug. 14th at the Mifgashim Festival in Givatayim, Saturday night Aug. 16th  with haMAKOR at The Lab (HaMa'abada) in Jerusalem, Sunday Aug. 17th at the Celebrating Carlebach / Festival HaTanach in Bet Guvrin and Monday Aug. 18th at Shuni Fortress in Jabotinsky Park in Binyamina.

For more information, visit Tightrope Productions at