Good rockin' down below

When Pessah holiday approaches the lowest spot on earth gets more and more popular; hosting two music fests this year.

While the Dead Sea may be getting smaller and smaller, when Pessah holiday approaches the area gets more popular each year. The 11th annual Ahava Festival continues a decade's worth of concerts by night and nature activities in the northern Dead this Tuesday through Thursday, while the alternative religious rock festival gears up for its second year, Wednesday and Thursday. For the observant crowd, an alternative rock festival will be held further south, within Ein Bokek hotel region along the Dead Sea. The Festival Ahava, take place Tuesday through Saturday, April 3-7 offers walking, hiking, bicycling or horse-back riding, along with other daily organized opportunities to actively explore the hidden streams, canyons and other beauty spots of the northern Dead Sea region, including the Jordan River. Come sunset each evening, the festival will host Israel's largest rock celebration with performances by Aviv Gefen, Eviatar Banai, Ehud Banai, Arkadi Duchin, Barry Sacharoff, Monica Sex, Mashina, Ivri Lider, Shalom Chanoch. Nekamat Hatracktor (The Revenge of the Tractor), and Dafna Ve'Haugiot (Dafna and the Cookies), with plenty of the performances starting at dawn If you miss this, you will certainly not have another opportunity to hear so many famous Israeli rock musicians at once until next year's festival. Kibbutz Kalya hosts "Love Has Many Voices," a free concert of different vocal groups, on its lawn on Wednesday and Thursday. The region's tzimmerim, guest houses, and camp grounds will all be open. Details at (02) 940-0285 or For concert tickets call (02) 622-2333, 057-622-2122, THE FIRST DAY of last year's Jewish Rock and Soul Festival was forced to go acoustic due to unseasonable rains, yet nearly a thousand alternative Jewish music lovers - ranging from families and tourists to young trekkers - streamed to Solarium Beach in the Ein Bokek Hotel area of the Dead Sea nonetheless. No rains are forecast this year, and the electricity should flow through both hol nights - Wednesday and Thursday, April 4 and 5 - of the Hol Hamoed festival. The music starts at 6 p.m. each of the two days and runs through midnight, all against the beautiful and serene backdrop of the Dead Sea. The musicians, some well known and others new on the scene, display styles ranging from klezmer, rock and reggae thru to Carlebach style soulful niggunim. Whatever the genre, they all play original Jewish music. Some of the bands featured include Simply Tsfat, Chaim Dovid Sarachik, Shlomo Katz, Reva L'Sheva, Aaron Razel, Adi Ran, Sinai Tor, Naftali Abramson plus many others. Making debut appearances this year will be the"Hendrix-style" power rock trio YOOD plus the progressive klezmer rock band A Groise Metsi'e. Acoustic folk rock singer-songwriter Udi Davidi (cover photo) does his composing while tending his a sheep on the Judean hills Ticket purchases are available for one- or two-day passes with special pricing for students, soldiers, pensioners, family plans and VIP seating. Festival proceeds will go toward the purchase of medical equipment for Hatzalah, a volunteer, non-profit emergency medical service that assists the victims of terrorism and other medical emergencies. For further details, information and tickets, call (03) 532-5272,