Israel's Good Name

Rocking the Galilee

In Galilee, Israel on December 2, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Due to the popular Israeli DocAviv, a documentary film festival, and its special Galilean branch, DocAviv Galil, several concerts have been offered to the people and they were all free! This blog post is about the two concerts of this week, Lahakat Droz on Wednesday night and Dudu Tassa on Thursday night. Both held in Ma’alot’s beautiful new Heichal Tarbut (Performing Arts Centre):

Ma’alot’s beautiful Heichal Tarbut

Concert 1: The performance of Lahakat Droz (Hebrew for Band of Droz – Droz meaning “stairs” in Moroccan Arabic) was called for 8:00 PM Wednesday evening with several short documentaries shot/produced in the Ma’alot area to be shown before it. I arrived fashionably late, found a seat in the lower section and settled in for some documentary works of film. The short film that was playing when I came in and the subsequent one were of little interest to me but the third one was wonderful. It was about an old man living in Kibbutz Kabri who made aliyah when he was in his teens or twenties from Iran. Throughout his life he had a fascination for filming and had dozens, if not hundreds, of film reels from back in Iran and the early kibbutz life in Kabri. A woman began investigating his work and they set out to watch the reels and to relive the days of old. Throughout the documentary, snippets of the old man’s film reels were shown, including the establishment of the banana farms outside of Nahariya. It was a wonderful film. Then, before the concert itself, a short film of Lahakat Droz was shown. We learned all about the founding of the band and the various members and methods involved, including the various things that inspired them in their music making. Once the band’s movie was finished a short break was announced to allow the band to set up. I headed outside after taking a botched-up panoramic picture of the auditorium. There, in the lobby of the building, next to the cafe, I found the woman from the documentary about the old man from Kibbutz Kabri. I told her that I loved her show and she thanked me and was pulled away by the official people of the DocAviv Galil to either receive or watch someone receive some award or something. After a few more minutes of milling about, finding some friends and saying “hi”, we all headed back into the auditorium for the concert.

Lahakat Droz

Lahakat Droz is a local band founded in Ma’alot with most of its members living in the Ma’alot area. The lead singer, Itzhik Alul, and his brother on the acoustic guitar began playing at least 20 years ago, spending their time in bomb shelters strumming away the days, fine-tuning their skills. I found it fascinating that the bomb shelters they played and practiced in are located just a few minutes from my house.

Lahakat Droz 2 (note the crisp spotlights)

The music that they played was music from the heart, lyrics and musical notes lovingly released into the smoky air and throbbing the tiny bones in the audience’s ears with a wholesome, ethnic-rock feel. I loved every minute of it and I’m sure the several hundred people in attendance with me felt similar as I saw them all singing along. The violinist, a Druze from Bet Jaan named Marzuq Harb, played fabulous Middle Eastern solos.

Marzuq Harb, the violinist of Lahakat Droz

The concert was over too soon, but when it was over everybody agreed that the concert was a smashing success. I shook the hand of the lead singer’s brother, thanked him and then looked around outside in the lobby for CDs to buy. I didn’t find any. But there is a YouTube link to one of their songs being performed elsewhere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zagwNdPeO7c

Concert 2: Dudu Tassa’s concert was Thursday evening prefaced with a personal documentary titled Iraqinroll (i.e. Iraq-n-roll) a play on words between his rock music and his grandfather’s musical history in Iraq, the successful Daoud Al-Kuwaiti. Unfortunately, the documentary had a fee and since we came late we did not enter until it was over. In the half hour or so that we had to wait I bumped into the guitarist from the previous night’s band, Kfir Ohayon of Lahakat Droz. We spoke for about 15 minutes where we discussed his band, our mutual friends and other chatty topics. Then the doors were opened to all and we went our separate ways into the auditorium. We found seats in the third row from the stage, surprisingly, and the mayor got up to say a few words.

Mayor of Ma’alot Shlomo Buchbut giving an opening word to Dudu Tassa’s concert

The mayor stepped down and the musicians stepped in. The very first song that he sang was the one I have grown to like after finding it on YouTube several days before the concert, and here it is, for you to like too. Presenting “Eize Yom” by Dudu Tassa featuring Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead: 

The music that followed was all new to me and the people loved it. There were at least 400 people in attendance, at least 70% of them 25 and younger. It was loud and fun.

Dudu Tassa and band

Dudu rocked on his guitar and crooned out his songs in both Hebrew and Moroccan Arabic, the heavy drum pounding behind him and the enthusiastic bass player to his right kept us in sync. The lad to his left was on a Qanun-like instrument, plucking at the taut wires with fingers capped in metal. It was quite an authentic touch to the Israeli rock music that he was belting out.

Dudu Tassa on stage

Towards the end of the concert his music picked up pace and people left their seats to crowd around the stage. It was fun. When the concert was over I did not get the opportunity to thank the performers and headed out to leave. I am looking forward to next year’s DocAviv Galil and the slew of free concerts that will no doubt be available. Time to keep my eyes peeled on the posters around town!

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  1. […] hall that hosted the Lahakat Droz and Dudu Tassa concerts that I wrote about some time back (here). We drove down to the lake and found that the festivities were somewhat closed down and although […]

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