Israel Music Showcase Festival returns to live format

What could be a better cure for those post-pandemic blues than to taste the long-awaited taste of the big world?

And if, for example, for financial reasons or directives from the Ministry of Health, you can’t get out yourself, how about transposing “there” here?

In the case of the Israel Music Showcase Festival (November 24-28), based at the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem, that means bringing in a bunch of bigwigs from the foreign music industry and introducing them to some of the most exciting acts on the scene. Israeli musical. has to offer.

The showcase, founded by former artistic director Barak Weiss in 2010, has provided the primary platform for dozens of our most serious artists, across a wide range of genres and styles, not to mention ethnic baggage, to showcase their stuff in front of an A – list of lists from here, there and everywhere.

This year’s festival, in the wake of Weiss’s departure and the 2020 virtual program, features some of our greatest weapons in the spheres of rock, indie, ethnic, electronic and jazz music, live, including artists like Ninet, internationally acclaimed saxophonist Eli Degibri, singer-songwriter Rona Kenan and former David Bowie sideman Yossi Fine.

Yellow Submarine 370 (credit: courtesy)

Your international audiences will include art directors, journalists, media professionals, marketing executives, and producers from Russia, Canada, France, Austria, Japan, Germany, the United States, and other parts of the world.

In total, about 50 guests are flying in to sample what our boys and girls have to offer, which in itself is no small feat.

“We hope everything goes well,” says artistic director Hadas Vanunu, when we speak a week before the start.

At the very least, Vanunu and his colleagues are lucky to have an excellent time, as restrictions on entry of fully vaccinated non-Israelis have recently been lifted. Vanunu says he had no idea, or inside information, that it would turn out like this, and that he hoped for the best.

“We take a risk. All around us the other showcases decided a while ago to do it virtually again, but we said there was no way we would have a digital display case a second time. We did it once and it was good, but you can’t go on like this. “

There is nothing like a positive mindset to get things moving in the desired direction. “We approached the whole matter with great optimism. And then we begin to notice that some [foreign] artists were starting to come around here. We started working with all kinds of people, from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture, the [Population and] Immigration authority. It was a really exhausting process. “

But, apparently, all is well if it ends well. “Fortunately, we started racing with him. We started inviting people, and then we realized that the heavens were going to open up, and we thought how lucky we had been to have done so. ”Luck and probably a little good Israeli cheek.

Concerts are scheduled for Yellow Submarine, Haparsah, David’s Tower and Feel Beit in Jerusalem, and Teder in Tel Aviv, with a music industry conference taking place at Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv on the last day.

Bringing in such a large contingent of guests, even without Covid considerations, would be challenging, and logistical maneuvering machinations became even more complex when it was decided to group all gender categories into the same programmatic stretch.

Before this appropriately titled mixed edition, the performance was split into two separate lineups, with the jazz and ethnic material featured first, and rock-pop-indie acts doing their thing, in front of a different contingent of the incoming industry, a couple of weeks later.

This year’s hybrid event is quite difficult for Vanunu and the rest of the festival staff, but, says the artistic director, it makes practical sense. “We realized that, with all the things that you have to deal with, to bring people from outside, if we carried the showcase with the usual [two-leg] format we would be completely occupied with that, and we would not have time for anything else. “

As the Showcase is definitely designed to help bring out some acts that haven’t hit the bigger stages yet, it’s no wonder to see the likes of retro funk group Uzi Navon, burlesque rock group Hamasach Halavan. (The White Screen) and rapper Echo on the poster.

But what about Ninet Tayeb? The 38-year-old singer-songwriter, known professionally only by her first name, is arguably the biggest draw on the Israeli pop-rock scene today. Why do you need to make the effort to show Showcase guests that you can do the business?

“People tend to think that if the artists are so famous in Israel, they don’t need the Showcase,” Vanunu clarifies. “That is not the case”.

Ninet will undoubtedly surprise his audience in the last moment of the curtain opening evening – Degibri opens – with a snapshot of part of his repertoire in English.

But Vanunu hopes that local and foreign audience members will get a multi-layered viewer experience from the hybrid release.

“I think people will find the combined program very interesting. It is very colorful and varied ”.

She feels that it is a situation of checks and balances. “When you have, let’s say, just jazz or just rock, you can have 30 acts and put on a wide range of shows. When you combine everything, that limits the variety. [of each genre] but it offers people a broader offer, seasoned with all kinds of flavors. “

That also means fewer opportunities for local musicians to show festival organizers abroad what they can do. “I can understand that some artists may be frustrated by that, but I think having a wider selection of music, with everything mixed in, I think it adds color and makes everything more exciting.”

VANUNU SAYS the Showcase has two-way street rewards for everyone. “This also impacts the Israeli scene. Israeli artists understand that they have a chance to succeed abroad. That really motivates people, and they themselves reach a ‘ready to export’ state. Everything is interconnected. “

The art director notes with joy that there is no substitute for real body interfaces.

“Personal encounters are the most important thing,” he says, adding the importance, for our artists, of getting closer to those who move and move the industry. “People abroad have managers and agents. Here that is less frequent. So when, say, the recruiting agents and festival directors come here, they meet the real artists. It’s more direct and more personal. “

The Yellow Submarine is now looking to up the ante on marketing and plans to establish an international department designed to prepare Israeli artists to export their artistic products to venues and events around the world.

Vanunu believes that it can produce benefits that go beyond the strict musical mandate. “People come to Israel with all kinds of political ideas and opinions. But when they come here and listen to the music and meet the artists, they learn that the political aspect is the least important ”.

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