Indie Music Festival: Less is more

Itamar Rothschild is one of many bringing their minimalist music to Folkale at Levontin 7.

panic ensemble 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
panic ensemble 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
One would think that Folkale, Tel Aviv's alternative folk festival, would be the venue where the Bob Dylans and Tracy Chapmans of Israel would sing of the coming revolution. According to Yuval Hering, founder of the event, the connection to folk is very loose. Interesting. "There are no statements against the establishment or society in the music Folkale artists play," says Hering. "Even the name is a parody of folk. It sounds like a Yiddish version of the word."(It rhymes with bubbele) "The only statement we want to give is that there is good, alternative music in Israel," he relates. By alternative, Hering does not mean the explosive riffs of Seattle's grunge bands. Quite the contrary. The only guidance the festival performers follow, and the only connection between the festival and actual folk music, is a minimalist, often acoustic, sound. "Even if a rock band wants to play, we ask them to play with less instruments. I believe that brings out something else in the music and is not another template of something we've heard before," Hering says. He also believes that such a sound brings out the Israeli/Jewish twist. "Even if a band records in English with a foreign producer, their background doesn't disappear. They were in the army, struggled with education and might have lived on a kibbutz. Israel will always be in the music. And the more minimalist the sound, the more this comes out." Hering, who defines himself as a man of action, came up with the idea for the Folkale in 2005 after attending a few similar festivals abroad. Having been in a few indie bands (Lebanon, TV Buddhas) he felt the need for local indie singer/songwriters to achieve recognition. A few phone calls and 15 artists later, the first festival was born. "When those performers, usually ignored by the establishment, gathered together, they felt, for the first time, that they are a cohesive unit," he explains. Back then, Folkale was held at Florentine's Slow Moshe. Since then, the festival has doubled the number of its attendees and tripled the number of artists who want to play. Consequently, it changed venue to the bigger Levontin 7. Other indie festivals such as In-D-Negev and Hutzmize cropped up, helping to develop the indie music fan base. Those same fans who express general displeasure with the mainstream music scene flocked to said events. The indie scene is alive and kicking. Still, in its fifth year, Folkale's initial goal remains unchanged - to intersperse familiar artists and lesser known ones in order to give greater exposure to the latter, offer a greater variety of style to festival-goers and help to grow local music appreciation. "We live in a world where an artist has many options when it comes to making his music," Hering says. "The most important thing is that an artist be true to himself. If he does that, his music is the most genuine it can be." Artists scheduled to perform at this year's Folkale include Yahli Sobol, David Blau and the Good Band, Nadav Azoulay, Noam Kovacs and Poliana Frank on Friday and Yael Dekelbaum, Itamar Rothschild, Idan Rabinovici, Panic Ensemble, Yonatan Cnaan on Saturday, with unannounced performers promised for both nights. Hours are not listed for individual performers because, according to Hering, "we want people to come for the artists they know and discover those that they don't. I believe that's the true spirit of music." Folkale takes place on Dec. 26 and 27 from 1 p.m. till the wee hours of the night at Tel Aviv's Levontin 7 (7 Levontin St. - shocking, yes). Tickets are NIS 50 for one day and NIS 80 for two and available at The Third Ear, Salon Berlin and Levontin 7. Call (03) 560-5084 for more information. Only two-day tickets are available for advanced purchase.