This Sunday, the Jerusalem Rocks Festival will feature some of the biggest international bands around. But organizers don't want you to forget our own up-and-coming stars
When local singer-songwriter Geva Alon takes the stage this Sunday at the Jerusalem Rocks Festival at Sultan's Pool, he is certain that many in the audience will be clueless about his music. The solo artist and founding member of the rock trio The Flying Baby is among the country's best blues-folk-country musicians. Critics have even dubbed the 28-year-old the Neil Young of Israel.
"The fans who listen to American folk in Israel are a very small group. This is a huge gig, and I'm sure most of the people won't know who I am," says Alon, who last month released his second solo effort, The Wall of Sound.
There is no doubt that most of those attending the festival will be there for the big name groups like The Black Eyed Peas, Arrested Development and The Commitments. But this is also one of the last chances local fans will have to see Alon on home turf. The burgeoning musician is set to move to New York in January.
"We need a change," he says of the decision he and his wife, who is also in the music business, made to leave Israel.
Alon, who writes and sings in English, has logged time in the US both with his band The Flying Baby and alone. Last summer he played 20 gigs in a coast-to-coast tour in the US.
"The Israelis who sing in English are confused. They don't know what it means to play abroad. They think they'll just go two weeks to London or New York and make it," he tells The Jerusalem Post in an interview in Tel Aviv. "But you need to live in a place in order to gain a crowd. You have to find a few places and play there regularly for three years. It's very hard."
On the one hand, Alon hopes to achieve wider acceptance abroad. On the other hand, he says the dream of success is no longer his motive for playing music.
"Of course I want to succeed but I don't think about success anymore. I just want to do music. And I find it exciting to play on new stages," he says. "I'm honest in my music and that's what counts."
He is well aware of the international media coverage the Jerusalem Rocks event is likely to garner and calls it an "honor" to be included in the lineup. Also on the bill is the hip hop ensemble Hadag Nachash, rapper Mook-e, Palestinian rappers DAM, and Jewish soul group Reva L'Sheva.
According to organizers of the Jerusalem Rocks this event will "bring together musicians from all over the world in support of peace and unity." Organizers explain that "music is an excellent way to break down societal barriersâ€¦[the concert] reinforces the image of Jerusalem as a city of peace."
Alon, who is scheduled for a European tour in December, says he agrees with this mission statement. He says: "Music is the one language that everyone speaks. For that reason alone it is beyond every barrier."
The Jerusalem Rocks Festival kicks off at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday at Teddy Stadium in the capital. Geva Alon's performance begins at 4:40 p.m.