(photo credit: )
The eighth annual free Beit Shemesh Festival is gearing up for three days of Jewish rock and soul music this Sunday through Tuesday. In addition to performances on the main stage from some of the biggest names in Jewish music, the festival offers nature hikes in conjunction with JNF/Keren Kayemet, Judaica and painting exhibitions, a Druse tent, jeep rides and children's activities.
Night one of the festival features a performance by the renowned Andalusian Orchestra at the local community center facility, which promises to bring some much-needed Sephardic flavor to a festival dominated by Ashkenazi performers and crowds. The ethnic orchestra has a busy Hol Hamoed ahead of it, as it is also set to headline the gala Shirat David event on Wednesday at Tel Aviv's Opera House, with many big-name piyut soloists guesting. For more information and tickets, call 1-800-693-693.
But Monday and Tuesday should draw the biggest crowds to the Beit Shemesh Amphitheater, with live music beginning each night at six. Monday's lineup includes religious Kokhav Nolad finalist Shai Gabso, Los Angeles-based Sony/Jewish Music Group recording artists Moshav Band, Breslav hard-rocker Adi Ran, and smooth world-folker Aaron Razel.
Tuesday's lineup includes the mellow post-Carlebach sounds of Reva L'Sheva, dos-jammer Shlomo Katz, classic Israeli ethnic-prog-experimenter Shlomo Gronich, and a highly anticipated set from alt-piyut fusionists Eden Mi Qedem.
The latter's debut album was finally released earlier this summer, and frontman Samuel Nelson has brought that studio project's signature electronic rhythms into the mix of edgy guitar rock and Eastern folk sounds that the band plays on stage.
The Moshav Band, in Israel for the first time since releasing its major-label debut Misplaced, brings new material to the Ma'abada Theater in Jerusalem on Sunday night at nine, with tickets available at 1-700-700-920.
The show will feature an opening set by Hamakor, the local up-and-coming anything-goes guitar jam band whose frontman, Nachman Solomon, is brother to two Moshav Band members - Yehuda (lead vocals) and Yosef (bass).
Hamakor will not be participating in the Beit Shemesh Festival, but thankfully that doesn't mean they'll remain silent this Succot. They'll also be performing at Moshav Mevo Modi'im's low-key Country Fair event on Monday, and at Jerusalem's Mike's Place beer cave on Thursday.
In addition, Hamakor has teamed up with veteran Jerusalem bar-rockers Remedy and Jewish reggae shepherds Aharit Hayamim to set up a three-band alternative event for Monday in Jerusalem, with time and venue yet to be announced (see www.aharit.net for updates).
Tearing up stages all over the country following the release of their own eponymous debut album earlier this summer, Aharit Hayamim also has a busy week ahead. In addition to Monday's tentative mini-festival, the band is booked to participate in Kibbutz Tze'elim's Reggae Festival on Tuesday.
That begins at 6 p.m. with an open drum circle, craft booths, children's activities, a gargantuan succa, and performances by dub and ska acts. Aharit Hayamim's set is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Tickets ate available at 0528-664399. In addition, Aharit Hayamim plays for free at the Safra Square main stage this Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. as part of the Municipality of Jerusalem's official Succot festivities, with hassidic pop act The Kinderlach following at 9:45 p.m.
Hol Hamoed Succot is always the big time to catch your favorite Jewish musicians, but Succot 2006 offers more than ever - in quantity as well as quality.