Take legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, add a touch of Neil Young’s heavy distortion and enigmatic lyrics, and put a kippah on top.
The result is American-Israeli guitarist Lazer Lloyd, one of Israel’s few purveyors of American-inspired blues rock. Lloyd returns to Atlanta for the first time since 2015 for a performance at Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave., Midtown, at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17
AJT: What’s behind your upcoming concert at Smith’s Olde Bar?
Lloyd: I have a lot of fans in Atlanta, and Atlanta has a lot to do with my sound. You know, I’m very influenced by a lot of the bands that broke down there, like the Black Crowes and others. I’ve got a lot of that sound in my writing and guitar playing and singing. So I keep coming back to Atlanta.
AJT: You’re also hitting Paducah, Ky., and Grapevine, Texas. Do you enjoy playing places that are off the beaten trail?
Lloyd: I’m an off-the-beaten-trail type of person. I’m not for the big city, and I really love meeting all the different people in those places. You know, there’s interesting people everywhere, but in those types of places you really get to meet some unique personalities. And the shows there are just something a little bit more intimate, and I really have the time to meet the people.
AJT: You’re one of the few blues guitarists in Israel, but here the genre is much more popular. Do you find that you have more fans in the Southern United States?
Lloyd: Yeah, you know, obviously I have a lot of fans in the Chicago area and in the New York area, and a lot of people in California that like my music, but the middle lower half of America, going east to Texas and from Ohio down, that’s where the hot spot is for Lazer Lloyd. That’s where people really seem to enjoy it. You know, I play Americana, rock, folk, country, and am also obviously influenced by the blues.
AJT: Who are some of your favorite blues guitarists?
Lloyd: Well, I’m discovering people all the time. New people (laughs). One of my latest favorites is Chris Stapleton. You know, he’s a great singer/songwriter in country, folk and Americana, but he can damn well play the blues, and it’s rare to see something like that today — someone who really is minimalistic. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a huge influence on me, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix — those are obvious influences. Santana had a big influence on me, but also all the guitar players with Bob Dylan. You know, Bob Dylan’s sound and the whole thing he provided with Americana, folk, country and blues. He himself is an incredible guitar player. And obviously Neil Young.
AJT: Is there a special message that you like to pass on to your audience when you perform?
Lloyd: Well, I don’t go onstage with a specific message. I’m just trying to bring down something that connects on the soul level. And a lot of times I speak about how today’s need is for all of us to be a bridge, try to reach out. The world is kind of falling apart from hatred and ignorance, and so we have to try to reach out and connect. I also try to give the message of never giving up. That was a big song on my last album, “Never Give Up.” And I try to be supportive of people. I’ve been through a lot in my life and have seen how steady faith and a little bit of prayer and doing good deeds helps. I’m basically into just connecting and loving people.
AJT: Anything else you’d like to say to fans in Atlanta?
Lloyd: The fans make it for me. Atlanta is always a special place to play because the fans welcome me, and we appreciate the same influences, like all the great Southern rock and roots rock and country and blues bands. Can’t wait to see all of you!
Who: Lazer Lloyd
Where: Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave., Midtown
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17
Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 day of; bit.ly/2eKIMoj