Tower of David to host monsters of funk
The Tower of David Museum is once again letting its old stones shake with sounds of rock, groove and funk. A second annual annual concert, hosted in partnership with the Yellow Submarine, is set to once again turn the historic Old City venue into a massive party, this year with even bigger stars spread out over two set-blocks on 22 August.
Rising ragga-party-hip hop-pop star Karolina, who is scheduled to get the party started with the event's opening performance, is known as one-third of the internationally successful Habanot Nechama (who scored it big with the Hebrish "So Far"). Her recent soulful solo album, What Will I Do Now, with breakout single "Sorry Charlie," harkens back to the glory days of fly American funk and soul. For Karolina, each of these projects represents different aspects of her artistic self. "I like to take many modes of expression, but in every hat I wear, I feel the same – I'm just sharing myself with the audience," she explains to GoJerusalem.com. "I know it's not the end," she says of her evolution as an artist. "I know I'm going to taste many other places, but sometimes I feel tired, because it's very wide and wild."
Even wider and wilder, the headlining set-block features Asaf Avidan and the Mojos, an act that has outgrown the local music scene and has been touring extensively in Holland, Italy, Germany and New York. His return to Jerusalem, following an early-summer concert tour of China and Europe, is therefore akin to the return of the prodigal son. Avidan, who sticks to mainly folk and rock, followed up his breakthrough 2008 album The Reckoning with last year's Poor Boy/Little Man, which has earned him an MTV Europe Award for Best Israeli Artist. Opening for Avidan will be two winners from this year's local Battle of the Bands.
Culminating the first set-block's action is local mainstay act Mercedes Band, with its brand of funk-inflected rock. A favorite of the Jerusalem party scene, the band has released two albums, a self titled one and 2009's Bring Beers, with Mevasseret Tzion-bred frontman Gal Toran stretching the limits of his acting range in his portrayal of a struggling band's frontman on Israeli TV's Make Me a Child series.
But kicking off the night will be Karolina hosting Kutiman. With gigs lined up this summer in Germany, Karolina is poised to break out big internationally and is doing so with the help of Kutiman, who already gained something of a following thanks to other people's music - many other people's music.
A recording artist, DJ and producer, Kutiman took samples of hundreds of amateur YouTube musicians and melded them into one mesmerizing project he calls Thru You, which has garnered millions of views and praise from Time magazine. Not content with being a one viral video wonder, Kuti has followed up his initial success with several joint funk projects with a number of bands, most recently Maroon 5. Kutiman and Karolina are scheduled to take the stage at 19:00.
To whatever extent this community of artists is breaking internationally, that phenomenon only serves to underline the Tower of David party's significance as a celebration of a local scene finally getting the respect it deserves.
Citing Israel's modest size, Karolina says that "All of the big cities are like one center of culture" here, yet the Jerusalem live music scene holds a special place in her heart. "I hope and I believe that Jerusalem will be more and more of a center of culture," she explains, "but I don't think it's just Jerusalem or Eilat or Haifa specifically – I want it to happen to Israel."
Karolina has been playing sporadically at mid-sized Jerusalem venues like the Yellow Submarine and Hama'abada for about 10 years now, either with her Funset Sound System party band project, backed up by a DJ spinning psychedelic funk, with the intimate Habanot Nechama triple-threat vocal supergroup, or with her new solo show. "Jerusalem audiences are good listeners – I get really involved in the shows there," she says. "I love this city."
Her last appearance in Jerusalem was for a poetry festival organized around the theme of chutzpa, brazenness. "I was singing, with an acoustic guitar," she recalls. "It was such an amazing experience because everyone there was speaking about Jerusalem as a place of poetry and music. Because of the character of the city, with so much happening there and so many different types of people, it's a place of inspiration."
Two summers ago, Karolina appeared with Habanot Nechama at Mishkenot Sha'ananim's rooftop concert series, another iconic Jerusalem venue with Old City views. Performing at the Tower of David holds a similar place in her heart. "Of course, the location, when you see the walls, is powerful," she recalls. "When I see this area, I feel more connected to my heart and love and music. I love to do concerts in places like this that hold so much energy."
When Karolina plays venues like these, "Something happens in my brain," she explains. "I see pictures – I see history. It's like a time machine. You feel the energy of a holy place, the energy of war, the energy of love."
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