Jug Of Punch with Frank, Lennie and Bonnie
JUG OF PUNCH TRIBUTE TO FRANK DONNELL
In July 2021 our beloved Frank Donnel passed away very suddenly. The Jacob’s Ladder Festival Community was devastated.
Apart from some of the amazing things he did in his life, (ie Social Worker / Medical Clown / Kibbutz Secretary/ Loving Husband, Father and Grandfather), Frank contributed to every single Jacob’s Ladder Festival, either as a Stage Manager, as a Musical accompaniment and supporting actor in his wife Michal’s Puppet Shows, or as the Leading Musician and Vocalist of Jug Of Punch. At many festivals, Frank did all three. Always with wisdom, humor, a gentle Scottish accent and a smile.
The June 2022 festival will be the first festival without Frank. However, the band members, Bonnie Azoualy, Lennie Levstein, David Spellman and guest Shay Tochner will be presenting the best and most loved Scottish songs of Jug Of Punch in a Tribute to Frank and to the band.
We are delighted to say that Michal Donnell and daughter Elian will be carrying on the tradition of puppet making for children on Saturday morning.
WE ASKED MENACHEM, BONNIE, AND LENNIE TO TELL US SOME OF THE HISTORY OF JUG OF PUNCH.
“Frank was the embodiment, the quintessence of Jacob’s Ladder from its very inception in 1976. He was there when it was a folk club at Machanyim. He headed the folk group with the astonishingly apt name of The Drunks Up Front. Some of the group actually lived up to their name. I won’t say which ones.
Batsheva’s arrival in the group put paid to that name and the band became “Jug of Punch”, different name but similar effect.
With Frank and Lennie guiding the group there was no need of pretense, no need to affect an accent, it was naturally there. Frank in his music, and indeed in all things was authentic, genuine. He was as in the name of his first band, always UP Front. This band was authentically Scottish. Frank’s knowledge of Scottish songs, indeed all things Scottish, was vast.
We all learned words such as “Sae Cantie “ “Sae brankie” “ Ye Bonny Banks & Braes”. We all sang along with the band about Ye Jacobites by name Your fautes I will proclaim, Your doctrines I maun blame, You shall hear You shall hear. And we all heard and we all joined in.
If you wanted a Scottish band in Israel, Frank was the one to turn to. His was the energy that powered Jug Of Punch. The band was once invited to be interviewed and perform on Galei Tzahal. Lennie was away at the time, so Frank asked me to fill in for him. Frank, David Spellman and I went along to the Radio Station in Jaffo, I couldn’t play the Bodhran worth a damn, but it was a measure of Frank’s skill and talent that allowed the performance to come over fairly decently and Israel learned about Scottish music
Whether as part of Jug Of Punch, as stage manager or as both Frank gave of his all. As a stage manager Frank would fulfill his duties so conscientiously that even the doziest of musicians would get up on that stage exactly on time, and off it too. His knowledge of equipment and of sound helped many an Israeli Soundman to get to the right folkie sound, rarely heard anywhere else in Israel”
“Jug of Punch” originated in the late 1960’s, when Frank Donnel and I sang as friends together in Habonim Folk Club in Glasgow.
Frank and I enjoyed singing together from a very early age. We started by singing Scottish and Irish folk songs. Later we sang Israeli songs in Glasgow’s coffee houses in order to raise money for Israel after the Six Day War. After we made Aliyah to Israel, we realised that we did not need to sing Israeli folk songs in Israel. So we returned to singing and playing Scottish and Irish folk music to recall the traditions of Scotland and Ireland. Frank played the guitar and I played the bodhran, the Celtic drum, I received from my father many years ago.
We soon started attending Jacobs’ Ladder Folk Club at Mahanayim. Frank and I sang together in various groups until it was decided we would form our own Mevo Hama folk group with; Frank, myself, Simon Jones and Charlie Sofair. At Jacob Ladder Folk Festival at Mahanayim we were then called, by a name given to us by Menachem Vinegrad - “The Drunks Up Front!”
When Simon and Charlie left the group we asked David Spellman and Robin Ross (Minister of the Church of Scotland in Tiberias), to join us. When Robin and his family returned to Scotland and David left, we found the beautiful voice of Bonnie Azulai, who joined us after singing together at Kfar Hanassi , Bonnie continues who to grace us with her presence.
A second female vocalist, Bathsheva Fleishman, joined our group for regular performances at Jacobs Ladder. It was at this time we changed our name to “Jug of Punch.” Soon, John Freeman, an instrumentalist, joined the group for a short period of time. During my year back in Scotland in 1987, Peter Lawton replaced me in the group. On my return to the group, Jug of Punch continued to thrive with guest performers, including David Spellman, Bracha Ben Abraham, Jill Rogoff and Shai Tochner.
It is always a pleasure for folk friends to gather together and for my 50th birthday gift from Joanna in 1999 we started “Lenniefest,” our own folk gathering in our garden on Mevo Hama, hosted by Jug of Punch.
Jug of Punch’s folk music is as popular as ever and we continue to keep alive the tradition of Celtic folk music in Israel. In later years David re-joined the group, bringing us up to present day. Jug of Punch continues to thrive even with the onset of Covid and Frank’s sad passing. In order to move forward into this new era, of the group without Frank, and yet keep his spirt alive; Bonnie, David and I are happy to rename the group “Jug of Punch 2.”
It is a testament to our well love group that “Jug of Punch 2” continues to feature at gigs, events and folk clubs throughout the country. It is our joy and responsibility to keep alive and thriving traditional Celtic folk music in Israel. This is not only for our own enjoyment, but in order to pass the traditions of “our” folk music from the land of our birth, onto our own future generations to enjoy.
I stumbled into the Israeli Folk scene in the late '70's. I was introduced to fellow American, Leam Aldouby, at a party - we both had walked in with our guitars- and struck up an immediate friendship. Leam was the pharmacist at a leading pharmacy in Tiberias where I lived at the time. We performed a few times at the Jacob’s Ladder Folk Club in Kibbutz Machanayim which was the first time I saw and heard "the guys" from Mevoh Hama. They were a bit intimidating, but I loved their music.
Leam and I had been working on a song I really liked, but we only knew the first verse and chorus- remember this is pre smartphone period. One day, a lady with a rather broad celtic accent walked into Leams' pharmacy and to her credit, she did not turn and run when Leam asked her if she by any chance knew the words to a song which he proceeded to sing for her. She did not, but thought that her husband might, and that is how we came to make the acquaintance of the wonderfully talented brilliant Robin Ross and his lovely wife Annie. The 3 of us formed a group and performed locally, occasionally bumping into the fellas from the Golan over the next 5 years we played together. Robin had become friends with his fellow Scots outside the music community and he was the one who made the original connection. Long story short, Leam returned to the States in the early 80's and Robin's tenure in Israel was coming to an end so he brought me along with him to a musical evening at Lennies' place on Mevoh Hama and basically said to Frank, Lennie, Peter and David: "This is Bonnie (her actual name), she loves folk music, knows some songs, lives nearby, and you need to take her in as I'm off back to Scotland in a few months." The guys kind of said "yeah, all right" and that began my over 30 years of friendship and music with the people that became my second family. We were called The Drunks up Front at first, but since I tended not to fall off the stage very often, we decided Jug of Punch suited us better.
We performed in venues all over the country, on TV and radio, recorded a disc over a weekend in the miklat at Mevoh Hama with our dear friend, the late Ray Scudero, and our crowning achievement of being the opening act at Jacob’s Ladder Festival one year!
Frank was the heart and soul of the group; always looking for new material, wanting to try different things and some of the happiest times of my life were spent performing onstage with Frank to my left and Lennie to my right.
I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that there won't be any more silly Scottish jokes in my Whatsapp, or tipsy renditions of Tam O'Shanter at Burns Supper, phone conversations complaining about our kids who buggered off to the States, or those little perfect moments when we got a tricky song passage just right. Frank was a special true, true friend onstage and off and he is so very sorely missed.
The JUG OF PUNCH Tribute to FRANK DONNELL will be performing on Friday afternoon on the Opera Hall Veranda at 15:30.
Seating on chairs on the lawn or on the grass opposite the Veranda.
מחווה לפרנק דונל ז"ל עם להקתו קנקן תירוש
בשעה 15:30 -16:30 להקת קנקנן תירוש תארח את שי טוחנר על המרפסת של אולם האופרה.
נקשיב לשירים האהובים ששרו כל השנים להקתו של פרנק.
Lennie Levstein - Vocals and Bodhran
Bonnie Azoulay - Vocals and Guitar
Shay Tochner - Guitar
David Spellman - Vocals and Guitar