Eugene songwriter creates spiritual journey soundtrack.Byline: Carolyn Lamberson The Register-Guard
In 2003, Eugene singer-songwriter Rob Tobias took a trip to Israel.
The result is his latest CD, "By the River: Renewing the Jewish Spirit." He'll celebrate the CD's release with a party on Saturday at Tsunami Books.
The river of the title and the CD's artwork isn't the Willamette, although Tobias said it could be. Instead, the photos were taken along the Jordan River Jordan River
River, Middle East. It rises on the Syria-Lebanon border, flows through Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), and then receives its main tributary, the Yarmuk River. in northern Israel, where Tobias visited while on a kibbutz kibbutz: see collective farm.
Israeli communal settlement in which all wealth is held in common and profits are reinvested in the settlement. The first kibbutz was founded in Palestine in 1909; most have since been agricultural. .
One day, he walked along the river with a group of friends. Later, he strolled by himself and found inspiration for `Jordan River Song.'
`I went back on my own at sunset, and that's when the `Jordan River Song,' the tune of it, came to me,' Tobias said. "I had my little recorder with me, so that was handy, to be able to just hum it.'
Many of the songs featured on "By the River" have been played during Rabbi rabbi [Heb.,=my master; my teacher], the title of a Jewish spiritual leader. The role of the rabbi has undergone a number of transformations. In the Talmudic period, rabbis were primarily teachers and interpreters of the Torah. Hanan Sills' Ad Olam services. Tobias - a practitioner of Jewish Renewal Jewish Renewal is a new religious movement in Judaism which endeavors to reinvigorate modern Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices. Overview , a reform branch of Judaism - said the Ad Olam services update the liturgy somewhat, `honoring the old but bringing something new. New interpretations, new songs.'
It was his first and only trip to Israel, and he's been working on this CD pretty much ever since.
`Travel is inspiring in general,' he said. "But Israel, it's always been, ever since I was a kid, it's been such a big issue.
`I didn't really know much about what Israel was. Until you go someplace some·place
adv. & n.
Somewhere: "I didn't care where I was from so long as it was someplace else" Garrison Keillor. See Usage Note at everyplace. , there's always something mystic and mysterious about it.'
Tobias wrote eight of the CD's 16 tracks. Not all the songs were inspired by the trip.
`Tree of Life" appeared on his previous album, "A World in the World," in a different form. Then there's `Traveling Again,' which he wrote before he left.
While `Traveling Again' is tangentially tan·gen·tial also tan·gen·tal
1. Of, relating to, or moving along or in the direction of a tangent.
2. Merely touching or slightly connected.
3. about his trip to Israel, he said, "It's more about Jews having to leave. And part of it was I felt that I had to go there at some point.
"I wasn't leaving my home to go travel somewhere because I was forced to, but I was at least ruminating on that.'
This is his second album of material inspired by the Jewish Renewal movement, Tobias said. His first, "Sparks," was released in 2000.
Tobias' other works - including his first CD, 1994's "Constant Rain," 1998's "Bagel Boots & Water Dogs" and 2003's `World in the World" - tend to be more secular. Familiar themes - peace, justice, healing - through run through his work, he added.
`I tend to write very universally anyway,' he said. "There are a couple Hebrew words in there and prayers, but everything - even if they're in the song - they get translated in the songs.
"This form of Judaism is much more kind of in the Unitarian (mold). It's definitely reaching out to include people.'
Tobias, a Eugene resident for about 25 years, appears frequently in Eugene. A Saturday Market regular, he will take the stage at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at Saturday Market's Holiday Market at the Lane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Ave.
He performs at the monthly interfaith in·ter·faith
Of, relating to, or involving persons of different religious faiths: an interfaith marriage; an interfaith forum. service held at Eugene First Christian Church First Christian Church can refer to:
His repertoire generally includes folk-pop covers - the Beatles, Van Morrison, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Marley - as well as his own material.
At Tsunami on Saturday, fans of all faiths can expect to hear many of the songs from "By the River." Joining Tobias on stage will be many of the `friends' who make up Rob Tobias & Friends - Rich Glauber on bass and keyboards, Jeremy Wegner on mandolin mandolin (măn'dəlĭn`, măn`dəlĭn'), musical instrument of the lute family, with a half-pear-shaped body, a fretted neck, and a variable number of strings, plucked with the fingers or with a plectrum. and sitar sitar (sĭtär`), fretted string instrument with a gourdlike body and a long neck, similar to the lute. It has from 3 to 7 gut strings, tuned in fourths or fifths (or both), and a lower course of 12 wire strings that vibrate sympathetically with , vocalists Nancy Wood and Paul Safer, Natty O on bass and guitar and Ken Sokaloff on drums.
Maxxine, the Seattle flutist whose work is all over "By the River," won't make the trip, Tobias said. Other friends - it's a rotating troupe of musicians - will fill in.
`A lot of the people are songwriters and performers on their own and I pull them in as friends, so in that sense it becomes a community,' he said.
Rob Tobias and Friends
What: CD release party
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette St.
How much: $5 to $10 on a sliding scale slid·ing scale
A scale in which indicated prices, taxes, or wages vary in accordance with another factor, as wages with the cost-of-living index or medical charges with a patient's income.
Buy `By the River": At robtobias.com and cdbaby.com
Rob Tobias is a familiar face around Eugene. He regularly plays at Saturday Market and at a monthly interfaith service.