Follow the sun

The Sunbeat Festival in the Galilee radiates high energy and a cross-cultural tour de force.

Balkan Beat Box 311 (photo credit: Avihu Shoval)
Balkan Beat Box 311
(photo credit: Avihu Shoval)
If you’re heading to the environs of Tivon or anywhere in the Galilee, you’d be well advised to pop into Hurshata, a music venue with a difference across the road from Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim. The wooded location has been putting on topclass acts for a while.
Last week, for example, it rocked to the uncompromising output of heavy metal band Hayehudim, while this Saturday sees the second part of the Sunbeat Festival take place there.
And a lively line-up it is, too. The three-gig agenda kicks off at 5 p.m. – doors open at 3 p.m. – with the Kabako duo, which will offer the audience more than a breath of West African vibes. Didgeridoo artist Noa Zulu will put in a guest appearance. Three hours later, high-energy Bucharian groove band the Alaev family will team up with Balkan Beat Box producer Tamir Muskat in a cross-cultural tour de force. The festival closes with the 10 p.m. gig of internationally acclaimed acoustic trance group Hilight Tribe from France, which will host Jaffa-based dancepercussion outfit Mayumana in what promises to be a sonically and visually exhilarating experience.
Kabako comprises Shahar Kachka and Yoni Ohana, who play an assortment of West African percussion and string instruments that mostly originate from Burkina Faso. The two spent extended periods there, learning to play and build different instruments from local masters, and today they run an Israeli-based manufacturing company called Calabasi Instruments.
Kachka first traveled to Burkina Faso in 2001, shortly after he finished the army. He had become enamored with the rhythms and melodies of West Africa and was not set on any particular destination in the that part of the continent, he just wanted to expand his musical horizons and get a better handle on West African music. “I had a friend who told me he was going to Burkina, so I went with him,” says Kachka. It was love at first sight and sound.
Kachka spent six months there before returning to Israel completely immersed in the discipline.
Serendipity reared its pleasing head a second time when Kachka was on his way back to Israel. “I was in the airport to catch my flight back home when Yoni [Ohana] jumped on me,” Kachka recalls. “Yoni is a French Jew and was excited to see an Israeli at the airport there.”
The two chatted and quickly discovered that they shared a love of the local music, so they made plans to meet up again.
“Yoni said he was going to come to Israel, and we spent time together and jammed,” says Kachka.
“We could see we came from a similar musical place. It was great fun.”
In fact, Ohana had a far richer Burkina pedigree.
Kachka says, ”He started going there when he was 17 and had been there about three times already.”
Six years later the pair returned to West Africa together. “We rented a big house and each had four teachers, for the different instruments like djembe [drum] and ngoni [harp].”
Ohana and Kachka made good progress, and Kabako had its debut gig at the 2009 Red Sea Jazz festival in Eilat.
However, the idea was not just replicate the sounds and rhythms they imbibed in Burkina Faso.
“We mix in other influences in our music,” Kachka explains. “Yoni and I, and the other members of the band, who played on our first CD, come from different backgrounds like jazz, reggae, Latin and music from this part of the world. I think all that makes our music richer and more interesting.”
For more information about the festival: For more information about Kabako: