Other sabra songsters

February 26, 2009 11:49
4 minute read.

Dana Immanuel Dana Immanuel was born in London, but spent much of her early childhood in Pardess Hanna, where her mother is from. She moved back to the UK at around six, but spends a lot of time in Israel. She says that she learned to play the guitar while she "was meant to be doing something else." The 28-year-old read classics at Oxford University, but soon abandoned academia for busking. After several years playing any venue around, whether solo, as half of the acoustic duo Vizzini or with any of a fine pool of floating musicians, she realized that it was the only way to live. "To my parents' disappointment," she says, "I've been busking on and off more or less since I left university - I had a couple of regular jobs working in offices, etc., but realized very quickly that I was never going to be happy working nine to five." She started off playing the guitar, but soon moved in another direction. "I became very interested in American traditional music, and taught myself to play the banjo and a bit of mandolin a few years back. I started busking with the banjo as well as the guitar not long after starting to play it. In retrospect, it was probably not the best money-making idea I've had, but I've got better since." In fact, Immanuel feels that busking has helped her improve as a musician. "It forces you to get very good very quickly," she says. "Otherwise you don't make any money." She says that her performance style has been honed by years of professional busking, and lists Alice Cooper, Hank Williams and Dolly Parton among her influences. It was while busking at Tottenham Court Road in 2005 that she was spotted by a producer and session guitarist. "After an exchange of phone numbers and loose change, a curious musical collaboration developed." The pair now work together on Immanuel's music and she is currently recording an album. "The plan is to do some extensive touring when the album is finished - I particularly want to tour in the US as they like banjos over there and I already have a nice little army of fans over there through myspace etc. "But I've also been thinking about doing some gigs in Israel - I've always gone down incredibly well over there when I've played the odd gig or open mike night when I'm there, and there's been a lot of interest in my music via myspace and so on in Israel." Visit http://www.myspace.com/danaimmanuel or to buy a copy of Immanuel's sampler CD, visit http://immanuel.lunarpages.net/dana/HTML/ Dor Kelman Transporting a drum kit down to the Underground is no mean feat, but one that Dor Kelman did on a regular basis for three years. The 31-year-old was given his first drum kit by his grandmother at the tender age of three. Music became an obsession and by 12, Kelman had joined his first band. There were many more to follow. Ten years ago, Kelman left Israel for New York City. "I studied drums for a while at a place called the Drummers Collective. I also spent time working as an audio engineer." After three years, he left for India. He says: "I was traveling and also studying Indian music. I learnt how to play the tabla and Indian percussion." He spent a year in India, before going to Britain. "Once I got to London I decided to try out busking," he says. "My initial idea was to play the tabla at tube stations. I went for my audition on the tabla. The people that held the audition liked it and that's how I got my license." But all did not go according to plan. "After three or four times I realized that no one could hear me because of the noise from the trains, and it was very unprofitable. I was really depressed as I had waited a long time to get my audition and then my license. That's when I came up with the idea to start taking my whole drum kit down there. "It's the bass drum of a children's drum kit and I transported it on a trolley. It was amazing and would get the whole station dancing." For three years, Kelman would busk regularly, three or four times each week. At the same time, he managed to play in bands and various other musical productions. His favorite spot was Liverpool Street Station, in the City of London - the capital's financial district. "That's where the best crowds were. I would usually play late at night between 10 and midnight. A lot of people would have had a few drinks and would be happy to dance along to the music. "There were times I made a reasonable living, but at other times it wasn't really financially worthwhile. All in all, though, it's not about the money. I liked it and it was an extra income. Quite a few of the jobs I got playing elsewhere were through people that I met while busking." Last year Kelman decided to return to Israel. He now lives in Moshav Beit Elazari, near Rehovot. He no longer busks, but describes music as his "life's profession." To hear his music or to find out where you can hear Kelman play, visit www.myspace.com/dorkelman

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