July 5, 2009
Ivri Lider: On the Verge
The Forward interviews Ivri Lider before his 2009 North American tour:
In 2002, you were already a big rock star in Israel. What prompted your decision to come out?
On a personal level, I felt complete and happy with my life and who I am, and I didn’t see any reason to not talk about it. It seemed strange to have an interview and not to talk about it, about my boyfriend, about my life. … On a less personal level, I felt it’s kind of my obligation. When you’re an artist and you’re doing well and you’re successful, you get a lot of love and appreciation and energy and good things from people, and I think you need to give it back. Maybe I can influence people and help younger people that struggle — help them to be able to change their views, and stuff like that.
Were you surprised by how your religious fans reacted positively to your coming out?
You know, what I really like to see at my concerts is the diversity of people — a gay or lesbian couple next to a straight couple next to a religious couple, and they’re all singing the song and experiencing the same emotion, each one with his own thoughts and personal experiences. That’s real openness. That’s the real deal: You believe what you want to believe in and whatever’s good for you, and you respect me for what I believe in. That’s the way things should be. I don’t see any reason why someone is religious, but he won’t accept other people. True religion is all about love, or should be, and respect.
Read the rest...
April 18, 2006
Meir Ariel's musical offspring
The Jerusalem Post profiles Shahar and Ehud Ariel:
While things may currently be looking good for the brothers, it can't be easy carrying the "son of" tag with you on stage. "It doesn't bother me at all," says Ehud, at 29 the younger of the two by seven years, who recently became religious. "I feel it is a great privilege to be the son of Meir Ariel."
Shahar has a somewhat less PC take. "If anyone just looks at us as the sons of Meir Ariel, that's their problem," he declares. "We do our own thing." It's not as if the Ariels are exactly in denial of their famous parent. Both admit to learning a lot from the troubadour who died suddenly in 1999 at the age of 57. Besides his blues- and folk-inflected tunes, Ariel Sr. was known for his ability to mold the Hebrew language into practically any form he wished. Shahar and Ehud recall that with affection.
"Yes, the language thing comes into my work a lot," says Shahar. "I get inspiration from Meir's songs, and play around with things. The written word is very important for us, as it was for Meir, but we believe our new CD has its own merits. Sometimes I feel Meir's presence very strongly when I'm working on something."
There are plenty of other influences too. "Ehud will probably tell you he takes a lot from British rock, but I'm more into American rock, folk-rock and blues -- guys like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead." In fact, Ehud mentioned the first three as major sources of inspiration, plus local artists such as Shalom Hanokh and seventies super group Kaveret.
January 29, 2006
Aviv Gefen tops the charts with Im hazmanVia Ha'aretz, this week's top twenty singles of international and Israeli artists, as chosen by listeners of Army Radio's Galgalatz non-stop music station. January 12, 2006
1. With time (Eem Ha'zman) - Aviv Gefen
2. Everything up til now (Ha'col ad Li'cahn) - Amir Ben-Ayoun
3. In The Middle of the Chaos (Bein Kol Ha'Balagan) - Sarit Chadad
4. For me (Lama'ani) - Beit Habovot
5. This Man (Ha'Ish Ha'Hoo) - Yehudit Rabitz and Ahuva Ozri
6. *The Path of the King (Derech Ha'Melech) - Keleh 6
7. Just Don't Tell (Rak Lo Tagid) - Maya Buskila
8. Beginning to Continue (L'hatchil l'hamshich) - Ronit Shachar
9. Without saying a word (Bilee lomar mila) - Metropolin
10. How many times (Cama Paamimim) - Shiri Mimon
11. The Light In My Life (Ha'or ba'chayai) - Ninet Tayav
12. =>My Song (hamanginah sheli) - Danny Deen
13. Song To Sing (shir l'shira) - Miri Masika
14. Him (Hoo) - Shoti Hanavoa and Izabo
15. Hope (tikvah) - Gilaad
16. *Plane Ticket (Kartis Tisah) - Sivan Shavit
17. Ants (nemalim) - Puch
18. *Running Fast (La'roots Maher) - Sagee Tzoref, Elad Cohen, Melanie Peres, and Yeheli Sobol
19. Baby in the Rain - Shay Nobleman
20. Heading north (No'say tsifona) - David D'Or with Arkadi Duchin
* Top 20 Debut
=> Jumped up the charts by five or more spots
January 26, 2006
David Broza does SpanishBarry Davis in the Jerusalem Post reports that with his new album, David Broza is feeling at home in Spanish and Hebrew:
David Broza has come of age, in more ways than one. Besides his recent milestone birthday, the new member of the over-50 club has just released his third Spanish-language album, and is about to embark on a tour to support the new work. He'll perform with the Broza Five at Tel Aviv's Zappa Club January 25 to 27 and at the Einav Center January 28.
Those familiar with Broza's smash mid-Eighties record HaIsha She'Etee (The Woman by My Side) may be forgiven for thinking there's nothing new about Broza's offering us a taste of Iberia. But they'd be wrong. HaIsha She'Etee may have permanently established the songwriter/guitarist as an Israeli megastar, but eight of the nine tracks on that release were Hebrew versions of Spanish songs, and the record gave the impression of a being a marketing experiment as much as a musical endeavor. The new CD, Parking Completo, is another story entirely.
That's not to say that Parking Completo does not do justice to the genre - it does so with aplomb - but the new album is a gutsy, no-holds-barred work teeming with frontier-pushing spirit and unbridled passion. Despite a favorable initial response to the album, Broza admits to a certain amount of apprehension about the new offering. "It's not the norm in Israel to put out records in a foreign language," he says, "especially in a country where cultural identity is so important."
Given that Parking Completo is not the first Spanish-language release in Broza's 28-year recording career, why the concern over the Israeli public's response this time around? "This is my third Spanish album, but Isla Mujeres and Todo O Nada were mainly marketed abroad," Broza explains. "I have drawn a clear line across what I do for the Anglo-Saxon audience, for Spanish audiences and for Israelis. I have recorded in all three languages and it's a part of my own personal cultural identity. I feel comfortable in all those languages and that's who I am. Take me or leave me."
CANTOR MIKE STEIN Shabbat in Swing Time!Ben Jacobson writes in the Jerusalem Post:
Member of the clergy team at the Los Angeles-area's Temple Aliyah, Cantor Mike Stein has maintained an active and accomplished musical career outside of Judaism. As a teenager, he appeared in the original cast of Broadway's "Jesus Christ Superstar," and he went on to write and record the wildly successful series of "Dinorock" children's recordings, which even garnered him a Grammy. His family band, The Rolling Steins, tours the US extensively, and he also plays the violin on Craig Taubman recordings.
Stein's new album, Shabbat in Swing Time!, is surprisingly exactly what the title claims - a collection of Sabbath-themed original melodies, almost all of which are presented in a jazzy, homey rhythm. Both the opening "Shalom Aleichem" and the evening service-inspired "Ahavat Olam" showcase Stein's version of laid-back shuffle-beats well. Other styles explored here include lounge crooning ("Or Zauua"), hazzanut ("Mi Chamocha") and blues ("Shalom Rav"). The goofiness of the cover art reverberates on "Refaenu," while the Cantor's "Barechu" is transformed into a call and answer-structured exercise in scat whimsy.
AARON RAZEL: Live in JerusalemBen Jacobson writes in the Jerusalem Post:
Ordained as a master of musical composition by Bar Ilan University and a "friend" by the Carlebach Foundation, Nahlaot's Aaron Razel is an accomplished and creative force in the realm of contemporary Jewish rock.
Razel's four studio albums have showcased the folk-rocker's flair for soothing songwriting and musicianship, but they have been most effective as advertisements for his concerts. Fans swear that only on stage do Razel's charisma and upbeat energy truly become infectious, an assertion backed up by his new release, Live in Jerusalem.
Razel's "Song of Zion" appears here as a set opener, showcasing his Paul Simon-like, soft vocal touch with energy. On "Bnei Ha'neurim," Razel's vocal approach shows that he's not afraid to miss the high notes, which is in this case a strength, since we can hear on the recording how much fun he is having reaching above his range.
The ecstatic "Two Sugar One Coffee" starts out as a power-chord-heavy wedding jam, with chants of "mazal tov," but the song soon switches gears and becomes lighter. "The Fire and the Wood" is an interesting philosophical query, quoting scripture from a verse commonly cited by scholars to indicate that Isaac knew that his father intended to sacrifice him and walked alongside him up the hill nonetheless.
Emanuel Steinbaum Presents PuchVivah Sarah Press writes in the Jerusalem Post:
A recent debut in record stores is a solo effort by Emanuel Steinbaum, better known as Puch, and the Helicon record company has been heavily promoting its new young singer.
Born and bred in Jerusalem, Puch wrote lyrics and composed the music to all but one of the tracks on this album. His first single, "Nemalim," was quickly picked up by radio stations. His music is pop with a splash of rock, electronica and world beats. The album is fun to listen to - Puch sings softly, then louder, croons and harmonizes, and sounds totally at ease with singing solo.
On the track "Meaz She'halacht," musical backup is provided by none other than Idan Raichel (who collaborated with Puch before Raichel became a star). Like its melody, the words of this break-up song are touching.
Puch is not afraid to play with different styles: "Od Horim," which follows "Meaz She'halacht," is more lively and even has a polka intro.
The one song not written by Puch on the album ("Kol Hazman") was penned by his musician brother, Ronen. The 26-year-old Puch has been involved in the Jerusalem music scene since the age of 12.
The album has a high quality sound, and whereas other bands quickly record and release their material on disc, Puch and Helicon took over two years to put this debut together.
There's no doubt we'll be hearing a lot more from this up and coming Jerusalemite.
Sarit Hadad: Miss Music
Vivah Sarah Press writes in the Jerusalem Post:
Israel's self-described pop queen, Sarit Hadad is back with her thirteenth album. Boasting an all-star composer line-up including Zvika Pick, Henree, Yosi Gispin, Kobi Oz and Zeev Nehama, among others, Miss Music is meant to be an album of hits.
From the singles "Bayn Kol Habalagan" and "Bosem Zarfati" to "Hakahal Sheli" - a thank-you song to her fans - Hadad's songs are packaged and produced to a premium.
But Hadad - who hopes fans will start calling her "Miss Music" - goes overboard in places. Hadad includes her signature Middle Eastern beats as the background to her songs, and layers them with electronic and dance club tunes. Either in an effort to appease as many people as possible or to demonstrate her cosmopolitan appeal, Hadad throws in a couple of words in English and Spanish on the songs "Miss Music" and "Im Hapanim Le'maarav." While devoted fans will still enjoy the album, Hadad's offerings here aren't all that exceptional. Any distinctiveness she had on her previous albums is lost. Hadad and her production crew have clearly invested tremendous energy trying to make each of the album's 13 songs a hit, but too much tampering and fine-tuning ruined their chances.
While critics across the board have dismissed Miss Music as an artistic flop, there's no doubt Hadad's star will continue to shine. As usual with a Hadad album, it's as much about the presentation as it is about the content. The Miss Music album cover features Hadad in 16 poses - making it impossible to forget she's a star, whether one likes it or not.
Mashina returns to Tel Aviv
Barry Davis in the Jerusalem Post:
Twenty years ago the rock world may have had U2, Queen and R.E.M., but we had our very own Mashina. In the 10 years of its first incarnation, Mashina was the Israeli supergroup; there had been nothing like it since Kaveret of the late Sixties and early Seventies. Lead singer Yuval Banai, keyboardist Avner Hodorov, British-born bass guitarist Michael Benson, drummer Iggi Dayan and guitarist Shlomi Braha filled soccer stadiums and auditoriums at will and reeled off hit after hit - starting with "Night Train To Cairo" - for an amazing decade-long rule of the Israeli rock-pop roost.
When Banai et al announced in 1995 that the group was disbanding, a pall fell over teenagers and twentysomethings across the country. Eight long years elapsed after that "final" concert in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park before Mashina was resurrected, to commensurate success with gigs and recordings. Two years after the initial reunion, Mashina will play at Tel Aviv's Zappa Club this Saturday evening - a mix of old and new material.
Like the Rolling Stones, Mashina may not be filling stadiums any more (Zappa can hold only about 400 people), but show producer Shuki Weiss is unfazed by the downscaling.
November 27, 2005
Madonna Steals Ofra's Piyut
Is it fair that poor Ofra, who never had massive, Madonna-style worldwide fame, and died tragically from AIDS she got from a blood transfusion, and by all accounts was a totally sweet lady, should get her “Im Nin’alu-to-Dance-Music” idea completely stolen, without credit, by Madonna, who uses it to sell a ton of records and spread her Kaballah shtuyot?
If Madonna is really so deeply initiated in the Jewish mystical rites, couldn’t she dig a little deeper into the huge library of piyyutim?
Will Madonna’s next album have as leadoff singles “Dror Yikra” and “Yom Zeh Mekhubad”?