Enrique Iglesias' Israeli connection

Joining Latin superstar Enrique Iglesias onstage tonight at his second Tel Aviv concert is Jerusalem-raised guitarist Sean Hurwitz.

ISRAELI GUITARIST Sean Hurwitz (center, right) performing onstage with Latin heartthrob Enrique Iglesias at the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv. ( (photo credit: LIOR KETER)
ISRAELI GUITARIST Sean Hurwitz (center, right) performing onstage with Latin heartthrob Enrique Iglesias at the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv. (
(photo credit: LIOR KETER)
Enrique Iglesias fans probably pay a lot more attention to his swiveling hips than to his high-precision touring band. But when the Latin heartthrob takes the stage Tuesday night at the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv for the second of two Israel performances (the first was last week), a quick gander at the young, good-looking guitarist over on the side adding tasty electric fills and nylonstringed acoustic runs to Iglesias’s music might invoke a good dose of Israeli pride.
Jerusalem-born and raised Sean (Shachar) Hurwitz joined Iglesias on his Sex and Love world tour in August, more than a decade after moving to Los Angeles and establishing himself as a “go to” session guitarist and producer.
A member of “I’m A Believer” party rockers Smash Mouth since 2011, the 35-year-old Hurwitz auditioned for Iglesias earlier this year and, with a minimum of frazzled nerves, has been able to keep both of his bands satisfied.
“My first week with Enrique was something from the movies,” said Hurwitz in a phone call from Sri Lanka, where the Iglesias juggernaut had landed after its first Tel Aviv tour.
“I had finished up a show in Washington, DC, with Smash Mouth, and flew directly to Monaco to meet up with Enrique’s tour on the day of their show. I had never met any of the band or crew, and we did a sound check and ran through a few of the tunes that had specific things I needed to know.
And later that night, I was onstage with Enrique for a 90-minute show.”
The tour went on to Turkey and Lebanon, and then instead of taking time to jump over to Jerusalem to visit his parents (Ira and Judy, a biochemist at Hebrew University) in their Pisgat Ze’ev home, Hurwitz had to fly back immediately for another Smash Mouth show.
“Luckily, since then Smash Mouth has been on a hiatus for a few months, so it’s worked out much better,” said Hurwitz, who is planning to spend a week in Israel with his new wife following Tuesday’s show.
It will be the first free moments Hurwitz has had since he was approached by Iglesias’s musical director to audition for the second guitar role in March when longtime band member Emmett O’Malley decided to leave. As opposed to the old school jamming in the studio type of audition, Hurwitz explained that his vetting all took place via video.
“My name came up because even though Enrique is a pop artist, he wants a rock band and a rock vibe on tour,” said Hurwitz. “He looked at my website, checked out my videos and style and liked my look. He told me, ‘I like the dynamics and the way you work with the singers – you have what we need.’” Iglesias sent Hurwitz some of his songs and asked him to learn the relevant parts, and the guitarist sent back videos of him performing on electric, acoustic and acoustic classical with nylon strings to encompass the various styles found in Iglesias’s shows.
The boss was sold, and the shows in Monaco, Turkey and Lebanon were seen by all sides as a live audition.
“It seemed like I was the right guy, but it was still a matter of getting onstage with everyone, and seeing if we click, and if there was a vibe between myself and Enrique and if it looked like we were having fun,” said Hurwitz.
“I went in fully aware that it may or may not work out, but it did happen to work and it’s been a lot of fun ever since.”
Fun, but slightly different than the camaraderie- filled bus tours with Smash Mouth.
The Sex and Love Tour travels in style, with over 30 crew members focused on every detail of the show and the band’s needs. But there is a noticeable separation between the band and the star.
“It’s a big production and we’re part of a well-oiled machine. Enrique, as nice as he is, has his own jet, and his own life,” said Hurwitz. “I’m not really used to having that close relationship with the singer onstage but not really knowing him that well. But it’s wonderful in other ways – I’m getting to tour the world and see some amazing places over these last five months.”
Finding his place in the music business has been a welcome development for Hurwitz, who as a teenage Israeli was one of those lost Jerusalem kids hanging out near Zion Square with a mohawk and multiple face piercings.
He acknowledges that music turned his life around and has been paying it forward by getting involved with Jerusalem’s Sobar, a non-profit organization that is opening an alcohol-free music club and center that will provide guidance and structure for the latest generation of disenfranchised teens and young adults.
At last week’s sold-out Tel Aviv show, Hurwitz hosted a number of his childhood friends. But when the time came for Iglesias to introduce the band, he forgot to point out that his guitarist was a local boy made good. Hurwitz is hopeful that at Tuesday’s show, which his family is attending, Iglesias will include that shout-out.
“I think if Enrique tells the audience that I’m from Israel, they’re going to go crazy,” said Hurwitz. “It will be something they can feel proud of.”