Refer a Buddy

Visit Tim Gonzalez Today!
Tim Gonzalez

Lots of pictures from the recent BluesFirst International Blues Challenge in Memphis!
See the BluesFirst IBC Slideshow!

Buy this CD now!
BluesWax Album of the Year Nominee!
Blues Singer

Buy this CD now!
BluesWax Album of the Year Nominee!

Buy this CD now!
BluesWax Album of the Year Nominee!
Lookin' For Trouble

Buy this CD now!
BluesWax Album of the Year Nominee!
Southern Comfort

Buy this CD now!
BluesWax Album of the Year Nominee!
Which Way Is Texas

Buy this CD now!
Howlin' Wolf Chess 50th Anniversary Collection

Buy this CD now!
The Very Best of Lightnin' Hopkins

Buy this CD now!
The Very Best of John Lee Hooker

Buy this CD now!
Otis Spann Is The Blues

Buy this CD now!
Comfort To The Soul

Buy this CD now!

Buy this CD now!
So Many Rivers

Buy this CD now!
Presumed Innocent

Buy this CD now!
Let Me Play With Your Poodle

Buy this CD now!
Cuttin' In

Buy this CD now!
Moanin' For Molasses

Buy this CD now!
Call The Cops

Join our sister ezine on new age music!

Browse CDNOW's Blues Section!
CDNow Blues!

Buy a Blues poster now!
Blues Posters!

Our sister e-zine, Folkwax!
Blueswax Home Page February 19, 2004
Hey BluesWax readers! Get a FREE Issue of Blues Review and a FREE sampler CD too!


Special offer to BluesWax readers!

Blues Revue magazine would like to send you a complimentary copy of the next issue of Blues Revue, along with a FREE multi-artist sampler CD. If you enjoy it, we'd love to have you as a subscriber. If Blues Revue isn't what you expected, there's no obligation. To receive your complimentary issue call 800-258-7388 or click on the ad above.

BluesWax Sittin' In With




Blues-Rock Trio From Jerusalem


By Beardo


SOBO (from left to right):

Eli Fish, Sammy Ganzman, and Daniel Kriman


It was while scouring the net for Blues-related stories that I first learned, quite by accident, of Blues For Peace, although not noticing then, this particular band from Jerusalem. Sponsored by said organization, SOBO (formerly known as Southbound Train, but we will get into that later) represented The Holy Land in Memphis (Tennessee, not Egypt) at the International Blues Competition this past January 2004. I had the pleasure of seeing them on Beale Street at Blues City Café, performing their heavy brand of Blues-Rock and of talk with them a few times.


Beardo for BluesWax: So Assaf Ganzman [aka Sammy the bass man and lead vocalist], you were actually born in New York, right?


Sammy Ganzman of SOBO: Yeah, I spent my years leading up to high school there. Then I went to high school and the army in Israel. When I got out I lived in Nashville for three years then returned to Israel and have been back for almost ten years now. I would say though, I got into Blues when I was in Israel.


BW: You're starting to answer questions I haven't even asked yet. I love that! I'd like to ask all of you, what did you hear first, your biggest influences, when did the Blues come down, who's your favorite Beatle, stuff like that?


SG: I grew up listening to the Stones, The Who, Dylan, it's all bluesy, but always in the background and I didn't recognize it as Blues. When I got to Israel I stumbled into a bar named Mike's Place that played a lot of Blues music, got into it, and started playing with Daniel [Kriman][electric resonator slide with occasional wah and harp]. We discovered Stevie Ray, which led us to Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and other Bluesmen I hadn't heard before. That was the beginning for me and I've been hooked since.


BW: That's a variation on stories I've heard by most people getting exposed to English Blues variations, only to dig deeper to find the source. Kind of a left-handed introduction...


SG: It's like when I heard "They're Red Hot" by the Chili Peppers, then heard Robert Johnson's version. There is so much Blues music out there as the foundation of almost all popular music. Let's face it, every Rock band out there is based on the Blues.


BW: Talking to Bill Wax [XM Radio] this weekend we agreed that the actual word "Blues" has a negative connotation in the current musical lexicon due entirely to the public misconception of what Blues really is.


SG: You are so right, I tell people at home that I play Blues and the usual response is: "Cool, I love Jazz!"


BW: So, what is the Jerusalem Blues scene really like? I know I'm not the only one interested in your answer.


SG: I think we should have won an award for bringing the Blues to a faraway place. You wanna talk about keeping the Blues alive. When we first started playing there was only Mike's Place, it is very similar to Wild Bill's juke joint in Memphis, a very informal and low-key place where we really educated our own audience. Over the year as Mike's has gotten bigger so has the scene with us as a liaison between aspiring Blues musicians, which has turned into more Blues bands.


BW: You became a network...


SG: Also, over the years there are more Jewish-Americans coming to Israel and they know what's going on. They "get it" even though they like the Grateful Dead, that's a lot closer to Blues than Middle Eastern music!


BW: What performers do you hold in highest regard?


SG: I'd have to say Muddy Waters' material is the best of the old Bluesmen and of the white players it has to be Stevie Ray Vaughan...he was just so special and different.


BW: Are there larger venues booking Blues talent?


SG: Not really, we almost opened for B.B. [King] a few years back, but the ticket sales didn't support an opener and they eventually moved to a smaller place.


BW: Our perception of Israel is only what we see on the news and is pretty depressing. Does religion permeate everything...are you guys particularly religious? I remember during your set on Saturday night you alluded to the fact that, yeah it was the Holy Land, but we have beer and Blues and clubs just like you.


SG: No we aren't religious; it just seems like everyone should be when you view it from the outside. Of course, every religion is represented from Muhammad to Jesus and everyone in between are connected to that area. I don't know if you understand the concept of Kosher?


BW: Yeah, sure! I'm a cook.


SG: Well, you can get bacon cheeseburgers there, OK?


BW: Bacon? In Israel?


SG: [Much Laughter] You can drink and smoke, people live normal lives. Most of the country is not religious. I know when you say Jerusalem in America all they think of is religion and war. If that was what it was like I wouldn't be living here, you know? [More laughter]


BW: What have you been doing since the end of the competition?


SG: We went down to the Blues Foundation and to The Rock and Roll Museum, but it was too expensive so we just looked at it from the outside. It was $10 to get in so we figured we could get a Jack Daniels and lunch for that much.



BW: Nuff said, so, Daniel Kriman [guitar, harmonica, piano, trumpet, etc.]. You were born in Russia and reluctantly followed your family who was already in Israel. Tell me your Blues icons and how the band got the name SOBO?


Daniel Kriman of SOBO: Bukka White, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and all the guys that do the train beat. That is what I am really into. The name was originally Southbound Train, the song itself is really about coming home and that rang true for us...Er, ha ha, also our fans would tire of yelling our name because it was so long and started chanting, "SOBO, SOBO, SOBO" at shows so it stuck. That and we couldn't get the domain name [Giggle] and SOBO was available.


BW: Yeah, I don't think anyone had that...


DK: Oh, there is Sobo glue and Sobo bicycles...


BW: Oh man, that's funny. You're in Israel for ten years now, but where did you first play Blues?


DK: For years I played in the streets. There just wasn't anyone playing Blues then but me.


BW: I loved the juiced up resonator you played with a slide the other night in Memphis.


DK: On the album I play acoustic and it sounds much clearer. I just got that guitar a little while ago and the sound wasn't that good....


BW: Are you kidding me? I thought the band sounded huge! It was great.


DK: Really? Well, that is the whole idea, three guys making a lot of noise...


BW: What harmonica were you playing in the rack while also playing lead guitar licks?


DK: Ha ha, that's a good story for you. It is like a Chinese-made toy harmonica that costs maybe three bucks! No other ones work in the same way, not the Hohners, it is just, how do you say...different, you know?


BW: I'll say! It was really ethereal behind the heavy guitar riffs. I loved it. Way different, just like your version of "Not Fade Away" that you guys said you worked up in the hotel room the night before.


DK: I just want to have my own sound. That is the idea. The minor key harp and major key Blues is what is all about. I was afraid it would be too different for the people here.


BW: I can only speak for myself, I really go for the different stuff. It was special for me. Eli Fish Grundman [drums], born in Brooklyn and now living in Israel. How did you hook up with these guys?


Eli Fish of SOBO: I was a fan for a while then joined the band about three years ago.


BW: Correct me if I'm wrong, I get the impression SOBO is the shit in Jerusalem, right?


EF: [laughter] Yeah, we are. We definitely are, and that's a modest way to say it. [laughter] We are the shit, period.


I concur; for more on Blues musicians in The Holy Land check out Blues For and future pages of BluesWax.


Beardo is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. Beardo may be contacted at




This Week in BluesWax:


Sittin' In With SOBO


- In the E-zine: Join Beardo as he sits down with the Jerusalem-based Blues band SOBO. After competing in the 2004 International Blues Challenge in Memphis this power trio offered some interesting insight into the Blues in Israel and the world. Check them out!

- On the News Page: Vote for the 25th Annual W.C. Handy Awards!; Australian Blues Award Winners; Eric Clapton and Robert Johnson; and all the Blues news that's fit to print!

- On the Photo Page: A photo collage of SOBO and the Melbourne International Music and Blues Fest.

- On the Blues Bytes page: New Australian contributor Dave O'Sullivan gives us a look at the Melbourne International Music and Blues Festival. Check out the great acts that played this great festival Down Under.

- Under BluesWax Picks: Beardo reviews Mike Morgan and the Crawl's CD Live in Dallas; P. Kellach Waddle reviews the Holmes Brothers' CD Simple Truths and Danny Brooks and the Rockin' Revelators' CD Soulsville: Souled Out 'N' Sanctified; plus reviews of Primitive Piano, the Delgado Brothers' A Brother's Dream, and the J Street Jumpers' Good For Stompin'.

- One Year Ago Today In BluesWax: T-Bone was Sittin' In With Reneé Austin. Join T-Bone and Reneé as they chatted about where she was going with her Blues before she was signed to Blind Pig, had her debut album and received a Handy nomination for Best New Artist.

- Don't forget to play the Blues Trivia Game: Remember, everyone who plays is in the drawing for the prize! This week's prize: the CD Three Car Garage by Spoonful of Blues, courtesy of our friends at Bluestown Records. Play today!

CONGRATULATIONS!!! " Chuck6289 " is this week's winner of the Blueswax CD Prize Pack, a Damon Fowler Group CD, Live @ Skipper's Smokehouse courtesy of Damon Fowler. Go to the Backstage to collect your prizes. Remember to play the quiz each week for your chance to win great prizes!

Other fine Visionation publications.   My Page   To unsubscribe

Blueswax is an electronic publication from Visionation.
Copyright © 2000-2004 Visionation, Ltd. All rights reserved.