Frontline music

The five-day music event Hahazit is a salute to the innovative endeavor of the artists who stay in the city despite the hardships of making a living from their craft.

Gilli Levy, a.k.a. Gilly De Kid. (photo credit: JAN ARDASHNIKOV)
Gilli Levy, a.k.a. Gilly De Kid.
(photo credit: JAN ARDASHNIKOV)
Like so many aspects of Israeli life in the last three to four weeks, the world of entertainment has been severely hampered by the ongoing hostilities and the uncertainty of evolving circumstances. Festivals and shows have been canceled, and foreign stars in a range of artistic fields have preferred to stay away.
This year’s Jerusalem Season of Culture appeared to be doomed to share the same fate, and until Monday this week, it appeared highly likely that the second edition of the now-annual Hahazit (Frontline) music event would be shelved. But with the cessation of the fighting in Gaza, it was decided that the five-day event would go ahead after all from August 10 to 14, albeit with a change of venue.
Originally Hahazit was due to take place at Beit Hansen, but it will now relocate to the Uganda and Hamazkeka venues, where, people from all over the country can get into the crème de la crème of local contemporary sounds.
Many of the artists who featured in last year’s inaugural Hahazit outing will be front and center this time around, too, including rock singer Ryskinder (a.k.a. Asaf Eden), DJ Markey Funk, No Coast collective keyboardist Amir Bolzman, and Eli Shargo – a.k.a. DJ E.
There are a host of new items on the roster as well.
Guitarist-vocalist Charlie Megira, who originates from the Beit She’an Valley, will wing his way over here from Berlin to deliver his trademark material, which sounds something like what the Beach Boys might have done if they’d had access to today’s sound manipulation technology. With his shades and 1950s rock n’ roll threads, Megira cuts an imposing figure. Another 2014 newcomer, the Mafatal duo, will spin out its dreamlike soft rock sounds, while the Dirt Ensemble fivesome of Elia Yakin, Ran Nahmias, Daniel Slabosky, Maxim Turbo and Nimrod Weislib will get the audience up and grooving to their caustic post-punkesque show.
HAHAZIT IS all about Jerusalem. It is a salute to the innovative endeavor of the artists who largely live and work in the city, and stay here despite the hardships of making a living from their craft, often performing before tiny audiences of devotees.
This time around, the festival will, in a way, pay tribute to one of the formative entities in the evolution of music in the capital: the long-defunct Pargod Theater on the fringes of Nahlaot. Pargod opened for business in 1969, and until the municipality closed it down in 2005, it hosted a multitude of theater productions; jazz, pop, rock and ethnic music shows; film screenings; and jam sessions. This year, Hahazit will host the Ahat Shtayim Kazeh duo, which consists of former Pargod soundman Eli Shargorodsky and Gadi Blori.
Over his long years of service at Pargod, Shargorodsky recorded a vast amount of his own material on cassette tapes, though it was never released in a consumerfriendly format. He and Blori will use their upcoming gig to unveil some of those treasures to the public for the first time.
While it’s certainly an achievement to set up a new event, the proof of the pudding is when it takes place for a second time. That Hahazit is up and running for its sophomore appearance is an indication of the success of last year’s debut, which took place at the Bezalel building. Gilli Levy – a.k.a. Gilli De Kid – says it allows him and artistic co-director Itai Darai (a.k.a. Walter) to strut Jerusalem’s stuff to even greater effect.
“Last year, Hahazit was a bit of an exposition. Every day there was some sample of something that has happened here over the years,” says Levy, who also runs the Internet-based Raash Hour radio station. “This year, the idea is to really open things up. The plan is to make the event a sort of roundup of everything that has gone on in the independent Jerusalem music scene over the last year.”
At least in pure marketing terms, that sounds like something akin to a pop “Top 20” of the year.
“Yeah,” he says, “but our ‘Top 20’ has artists like [free improv guitarist-banjo player] Ido Bukelman. And we will have shows running at two venues, and that allows you to put [on] a lot of stuff over the five days. We can give a much better picture of what’s going down here in Jerusalem.”
Raash Hour is working alongside Tel Aviv station Teder Radio to get the sounds of the event out across the globe online.
While Uganda has been a mainstay of the alternative music scene in Jerusalem for some years now, Hamazkeka is a newcomer to the capital’s alternative cultural arena. Located on Shoshan Street, in the center of town, it has hosted a vast range of gigs in its twomonth history so far, from jazz to electronica, rock to performance art.
In the week prior to the festival, a mobile radio station filled a Hahazit opener role, making the rounds of the city and broadcasting from locations such as the Israel Museum, Beit Avi Chai and the First Station. However, Levy, Darai and Jerusalem Season of Culture artistic director Itai Moutner are all very much aware of the nation’s current mood, and were keen to incorporate that into the Hahazit flow: The mobile radio broadcasts addressed such topics as “Taking Stock in the Art World” and Beit Avi Chai’s Tisha Be’av program on hatred.
Levy is, naturally, delighted to have a second shot at Hahazit and feels it offers an opportunity to get a better handle on free-flowing musical goings-on in these parts.
“It is important to join up the dots, to see where all this music comes from,” he says. “This is a definitively Jerusalem event. These are the creative sounds and the creative people of Jerusalem.”
In addition to the live shows, which will start in the evening, Teder Radio will broadcast music and interviews from 11 a.m., and the Studio on Straus will host hardcore acts from its underground radio station on Straus Street close to Mea She’arim. • For more information: