Coming together

This week's three-day Beatles fest in Holon promises interesting Fab Four factoids and non-stop covers by local musicians.

Beatles 1 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Beatles 1 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Beatles enthusiasts will find both good music and tidbits galore at the Holon Beatles Festival taking place May 15-17. For instance, did you know that there was a Hebrew version of The Beatles' song "Girl" called "Gezer" (Carrot), or that Arik Einstein once wrote a song to the melody of "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" Local music guru Yoav Kutner, who's considered one the country's most knowledgeable experts on the Fab Four, will be disclosing such factoids during an audio/visual lecture, as part of the three-day Beatles fest which he helped to program. But, of course, the main event will be music - lots of it - provided not only by veteran stars like Alon Olearchik, Danny Sanderson, Jeremy Kaplan, Meir Banai and Hemi Rudner, but also young artists like Ben Artzi, Rona Kenan and Assaf Avidan who weren't even alive when The Beatles last performed atop the Apple building in London in 1970. "All the artists immediately said 'yes' when they were approached, and there were some who called and asked to be part of it," said Kutner, attempting to explain the appeal of 40-year-old music to a generation that generally discards week-old music. "The festival was actually initiated by the son of a Holon resident who loves The Beatles. It appears that there's a large segment of kids out there who still find something in their music. They stand the test of time, and I don't think there's ever been such a consensus among different generations about an artist that everyone loves," he added. "That's the million-dollar question," added Rudner, one of the featured performers, who'll reprise his raucous rendition of "I Am the Walrus," originally performed in the mid-90s in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at a gala concert series conducted by famed Beatles producer George Martin. "Why have they lasted? The age of the '60s has passed, the fashion trends are gone, but the Beatles' music is still brilliant." Artzi, who recalls hearing Beatles music while growing up at home with his father, Shlomo, says it doesn't matter how old the songs are. "They don't belong to any age - and they're not dependent on time or place. Every time I encounter a song by The Beatles, I'm floored by how logical it is, and how much humanity they bring to their music," he said. THE LOVE between Israelis and The Beatles has been going strong ever since Beatlemania first broke out, despite the 1966 mishap which preempted a potential visit by John, Paul, George and Ringo to these shores. According to Kutner, most of the seminal Israeli rock created in the '60s and '70s was based on Beatles styles. "The first original Israeli rock music, like Shabloul and Arik Einstein, was directly influenced by them," he said. "And even something like 'Lu Yehi' by Noami Shemer was originally an attempt to translate 'Let it Be.' But in the end she just took the theme and wrote a different melody." The Beatles in Hebrew will be the focus of the festival's first evening on the 15th, featuring new and old renditions of translated songs. "At one time, there was an attempt to translate Beatles songs into Hebrew or use their melodies with Hebrew lyrics, in part as a joke, but also because a lot of the singers weren't able to sing their songs in English," said Kutner. "There's also going to be some experiments like an ethnic/world performance of Beatles songs, and perhaps the most extreme, a public singing show of Beatles songs ala Eretz Yisrael sing-alongs." The final evening will be devoted to good, ole' cover versions of Beatles classics in English featuring the talented Magical Mystery Tour group as the house band and performances by the previously listed heavyweights. Rudner is excited to have the chance to perform "I Am the Walrus" again, following his show-stopping rendition over a decade ago. "For me, it was a moment of magic, one of the best things that ever happened to me. Standing alongside a legendary man like George Martin, being that close to a Beatle - because musically, he was one of the Beatles - and singing that song was a just heaven for me," he said. "He gave me the best compliment I ever got, he told me my 'Walrus' was the best version he'd ever heard since John's." FOR HIS part, Artzi will perform 'The Long and Winding Road,' 'Julia' and 'With a Little Help from my Friends,' songs that he loves, but maybe not his top choices. "I had some other favorites but they were already taken," he said, citing the fierce competition among the artists to choose songs to perform. Kutner, who calls the festival the largest Beatles event to ever take place in Israel, says he's relieved the band never did get back together before Lennon's death in 1980. "I think part of the myth surrounding them is that they didn't reunite. I went to see Paul McCartney three years ago, and to me, it sounded like a Beatles cover band," he said. "If they had reunited and just done the hits, it wouldn't have been worth it. And I doubt they would have collaborated on new songs. What happened is what happened, and that's the way it will always stay." But that shouldn't prevent those that attend the Beatles fest in Holon to bask once more in those glory days. The festival will be held at 21 Rehov Givat Hatahmoshet. Tickets start at NIS 60. More information: (03) 550-0012