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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Following a long dry-spell, last summer witnessed a surge in major international acts and some of the better known independent and underground music groups from the US and Europe coming back to Israel. Alas, it was short lived after war broke out on the Northern border, ushering in a long, somber summer.
But the music never dies, and the past winter has proved solid as a decent amount of less-than-mainstream international acts followed through on their commitments to bring their voices and instruments to our troubled region. With the likes of Devendra Banhart, Sean Lennon, Regina Spektor, Billie "Prince" Billy and the Silver Jews, to name a few, the precedent has been building and this week we witness the start of a promising beginning of the summer season.
Tonight, Friday, sees thethree-part line-up of The Melvins, Porn and Big Business taking the stage at the Barby Club (52 Kibbutz Galuyot, 03-518-8123) in Tel Aviv at 9 pm.
The legendary band The Melvins hails from the Seattle, Washington area and was a favorite of the late, great Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who was a good friend of The Melvins drummer Dale Crover. Though not mainstream, The Melvins have been around since the early 1980's and have a solid cult following. Their first album, Gluey Porch Treatments, was released in 1987 on an underground label. It was not until the success of Nirvana's album Nevermind that the band's label, Atlantic Records, signed The Melvins with Cobain's support. Also having benefited from the general national interest in the Seattle music scene, The Melvins offer up more of a hard rock sound with a definite punk flavor, as opposed to the uber-popular grunge sound coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Porn is a separate project of the industrious Crover. Big Business, a stoner rock slash sludge metal duo out of Los Angeles, has been touring as the opening act for The Melvins and plays with them as well.
Two nights later, on the 29th, Hatebreed is set to take the stage, also at the Barby. The "back to basics" hardcore band that hails from New Haven, Connecticut, is making their first appearance in Israel as part of their Destroy Everything Tour. A main stage act at last yearâ€šs Ozzfest, Hatebreed front man Jamey Jasta is also the host of MTV2's Headbanger's Ball. Their last album, 2006's Supremacy, was described by Jasta as an "all-out onslaught of completely adrenaline-charged in your face brutality." Despite their deathcore stylings, the group has a strong social consciousness and have participated in the Love Music Hate Racism series, an anti-racism concert network that developed in response to the Nazi British National Party.
Formerly known as (Smog) and now formerly known as Smog, Bill Callahan has shed his parentheses and pseudonym to perform under his given name. Actually, it really does not matter what name he would choose to go by, it is simply our luck that he is coming to Israel to play the Barby and the Patefon at the beginning of May. This singer-songwriter has traveled the long road. At the start of his career Callahan would self-produce his own albums with whatever instruments and recording equipment he could get his hands on. Since, he has been signed by Drag City Records where he has produced studio albums of great sound, attested to the fact that Smog's song "Cold Blooded Old Times" was part of the soundtrack for the movie High Fidelity. Callahan appears here in advance of his soon to be released album Woke on a Whale Heart, his first to be put out under his full name.
Continuing to carry us through what will no doubt be another Middle East scorcher are a variety of bands slated for taking stages around the country. The Montr al-based post-bop and avant-garde Normand Guilbeault Ensemble is scheduled to close the Israel Opera Houseâ€šs jazz season with a tribute concert to Charles Mingus. Finishing up the month of May, Israeli-born Keren Ann will end her world tour at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium.
Both June and July are already shaping up to be powerhouse months with The Mission UK, Black Lips, Mike Patton with Christian Fennesz, Evanescence, Megadeth, Blonde Redhead and Iggy Pop and The Stooges all with confirmed dates, as is Jethro Tull for two shows at the beginning of August - one at the Caesarea Amphitheater and one at Jerusalem's International Convention Center.
Perhaps this year we'll make it to the winter humming a happy tune.