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Brows lowered for late summer concerts

by ben August 22 2008
Things to do

Rooftop rock overlooking the Old City

As an institution, Mishkenot Sha'ananim is known mostly as a venue for highbrow caucuses like poetry festivals and literature release events, or as a quiet retreat for international intellectuals who are guests of the state. But for four years now, Mishkenot Sha'ananim has attempted to diversify its wares with more lowbrow offerings like the annual rooftop pop-rock-funk concert series.

The shows, which take place on the institution's picturesque rooftop, overlooking the walls of the Old City from the historic neighborhood of Yemin Moshe, present an interesting mixture of Israeli music, from intimate singer-songwriters to bombastic party funk orchestras. In the past, the series has taken place on Friday afternoons over several weeks. This year, however, it's all going down over the course of five consecutive evenings, from August 26 through 30.

The format change is meant to minimize the nuisance of erecting and disassembling the stage each week, explains Gilad Newman, freeing up more of the budget to spend on quality talent. Newman, Mishkenot's deputy director of programming and the head of production for the concert series, says that unlike other summer cultural offerings, where crafts or beverages are the main thrust, at the Mishkenot rooftop shows, "Music is at the heart and the center of what's happening. That, together with the amazing atmosphere, with the view, is designed to bring Jerusalemites out of their homes, and people from outside the city come too."

Habanot NechamaThe series kicks off this Tuesday with the tight harmonies of Habanot Nechama. A supergroup consisting of MC Karolina, Dana Adini and Yael Deckelbaum, the soothing, acoustic and energetic trio shows no signs of slowing down since the ubiquitous "So Far" single propelled the eponymous 2007 full-length release to platinum status.

On Wednesday, Seventies veteran Nurit Galron, whose career has experienced a resurgence since she joined the cast of local TV's Ran Quartet drama, keeps the stage warm with a five-piece band. Classic rock stalwart (and former local David Letterman mimic) Gidi Gov plays this Thursday. A major music scenester, Peter Roth has had a hand in so many Israeli rock albums over the past decade that it's easy to forget that he is a successful solo artist on his own merits. His ongoing tour continues with a Friday Mishkenot Sha'ananim appearance, in a duet set with rock-pop charter Maor Cohen.

The series closes out with a Saturday night finale, as Tzadik Records alt-jazz, post-klez saxophonist Daniel Zamir and four friends jam out. The Petach Tikva-born artist, whose talent was discovered during a post-army stint in New York, has been living in Israel again for about two years now, gigging extensively in Jerusalem, to the delight of progressive Jewish music enthusiasts. Zamir's set follows appearances at the Tzfat Klezmer Festival and at Mitzpe Ramon.

Space for the concert series is limited, so reserve your tickets early via the Bimot agency.

Peter Roth and Maor Cohen rocked the Mishkenot rooftop last summer (top, courtesy of Mishkenot Sha'ananim), which means that next week's collaborative show will have benefited from at least one rehearsal; not be confused with The Sisters of Mercy - neither the Leonard Cohen song nor the British goth-rock band - Habanot Nechama (above, courtesy of Labeleh Records) are used to having their backs against walls, but only literally.

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