2019 is almost gone, so it’s a good time to take stock, reflect and be thankful.
It’s been a year of serious ups and downs for me. The hardest blow, of course, was the passing of my father, the late Rabbi Reuven Hammer Z”L. Losing a parent is always a huge blow, and my father was, of course, a huge presence in my life, a great void in my heart that cannot be filled. He was a kind,supportive parent with a fine sense of humor . I am grateful to have had him for so many years, and for all I learned from him. His moral example of how to live will always guide me.
I also lost a close friend and musical collaborator, the great drummer Shimon Even-Tzur. Over 20 years, Shimon and I played hundreds of shows together, and his danceable rhythms, his huge smile and his infectious enthusiasm endeared him to all who met him, fans and musicians alike - I sure do miss him.
But there were also moments of great joy and satisfaction for me this year- the highlight being the release of my 9th album “BlueSoul”. It was a journey that began nearly 2 years ago, hit many detours and bumps in the road, but ultimately I am very proud of the result. I set out to record a variety of styles of Blues, from traditional to radical and beyond. The Blues is an extremely personal genre, and I believe “BlueSoul” reflects my essence as an artist. Along the way I was helped by so many wonderful people : producers Tzafrir Lichtenstein, Shlomo Deshet , Ori Beanstock and Amir Hacohen. Great musicians like Gil Katzir, Yair Fine, Amos Springer, Oren Laor, Danny Manor, Assaf Rozov, and Kfir Tzairi. Tal Fogel drew magical cover art, Ma’ayan Bar Yoel gave wonderful PR advice, Sarit Kleinman made a great video clip - and I even got to record with my ultra-talented daughter Naomi Jo Hammer! All these wonderful people made the process as much fun as the result. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it seems like the same goes for an album.
In October I flew to Chicago, and re-charged my Blues batteries by playing with great musicians like John Primer, Deitra Farr, Tom Holland, Corey Dennison and others - thanks to my good friends James Craven and David Kachalon who arranged this, and to the legendary Joe Filisko who invited me as a guest teacher for his harmonica workshop.
Last but not least, thanks to each and every one of you for coming to my shows and buying or downloading my music - your support and love of music is what makes it all worthwhile!
Have a great 2020, everyone, and remember: live music is the best music - come out and see a show!
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