Four great acts are performing this year for JUF's Israel Solidarity Day at Ravinia on May 3.
First up, "fer der kinder" as we say, is Rick Recht. He quickly established himself as the brightest star of his generation of American Jewish musicians with his stunning 1999 debut, Tov.
Since, he has dropped several outstanding albums… founded Jewish Rock Radio, which streams today's best Jewish popular music online… and become a driving force behind Songleader Boot Camp, a crash course for Jewish musicians. Lately, he has been doing a ton of great kids' music, some of which has been distributed though the PJ Library. And it is in this capacity- helping the 5-and-under set burn off breakfast so they can sit still through lunch- that this tireless singer-songwriter-songleader comes to Israel Solidarity Day. He goes on at 11:00.
Here is my interview with Rick.
Then comes the 'adorkable' a cappela ensemble The Maccabeats. They took over YouTube a few years back with their "Candlelight" video (a parody of the dance hit "Dynamite") but, unlike many viral-video champs, kept the flame alive. While many of their silly rewrites revolve around Jewish holidays- like their latest, a multi-genre-spanning take on "Dayenu"- many other numbers are tender and moving… like "Home," filmed in Israel. They go on at noon.
Here is my interview with one of the Maccabeats.
At 2:30, the Jamman Drum Circle takes the stage. They hand out, well, hand drums to dozens of participants and lead them in ecstatic renditions of traditional Jewish and Israeli favorites.
As if all of this were not enough, the headliners are Israeli superstars Hadag Nachash. Their name, which translates to "the fish snake," is actually a spoonerized pun (made by switching the initial sounds of a pair of words- "take a shower" spoonerizes to "shake a tower") on the Israeli term for "new driver." Fittingly, one of their biggest hits, from their platinum 2004 album, is a series of rapped bumper sticker slogans. While nominally a hip-hop act, they rap over funk beats provided by a full band. Their six albums plea for peace and acceptance. They are also noted for collaborating with other major Jewish musicians, like Matisyahu. Their 2006 release was named Album of the Year at the Israeli Music Awards; its song "Hine Ani Ba" landed on the soundtrack of Adam Sandler's movie about a Mossad agent, You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Most recently, their song "Lo Maspik" was used in the video game The Sims 3: Late Night.
…And here is my review of Hadag Nachash's 2005 House of Blues concert, along with some quotes from the band's members.
See you at Israel Solidarity Day on May 3. I'll be the one introducing my four-year-old to Israeli hip-hop.