DATELINE:15/06/01 VENUE:DINAMO DVASH
Yes people we went back to Israel to spread some mellow vibes and to provide some solace for the tortured souls.
You might be wondering
why we did not advertise it on the web site? The answer is simple.
If the situation in Israel had developed into full-scale war then
the journey would not have been possible and many people including
us would have been disappointed.
Two weeks prior to us travelling a suicide bomber had targeted a night club in Tel Aviv and this had raised the temperature seriously into the red. It caused more than one artist to cancel their dates in Israel.
The night before we were due to leave the Israeli government and Yassa Arafat accepted the American brokered peace accord, and so the following afternoon saw Aba, Blood and myself heading for the airport to catch our flight to Israel.
We were going to do
two shows, one in Tel Aviv at 'Dinamo Dvash' and the other one
But due to the tension in the area the show in Jerusalem was cancelled.
The flight to Israel was uneventful and we landed at 'Ben Gurion Airport' at 0110 local time.
We breezed through customs and immigration, and as we walked into the arrivals area of the airport the promoter Guil Rasta was there to meet us.
After an exchange of greetings we followed Guil out of the airport to the car park for the drive to Tel Aviv and the hotel. We were staying at the same hotel as on our last trip. We liked this hotel. Surprisingly it is quiet.
It was literally a stone's throw from Carmel Market and across the road from 'Sheinkin Street' where the young people of Tel Aviv frequent the cafes and bars till the early hours. A bit like Soho in London, but without the sleaze.
NB: Two o'clock in the morning after a 4 hour flight is not the time to find out the hotel the promoter has booked you into, sucks!
I was up early as usual.
So camera in hand I went for an early morning stroll.
So I walked around the streets as the merchants were opening their shops and stalls and people were waiting for their buses. I was gathering my thoughts in regards to the conflict and the way its effect can be seen in the way I was being looked at by the people I saw.
I have been told that I look: Cuban, Ethiopian, Somali, Libyan, Moroccan, Algerian, Saudi, and any manner of nationality depending on who is asking the question, and from some of the suspicious looks that I got as I wandered around with my sun glasses on, taking photos of any interesting sights, the troubles have made some of the people paranoid and many more very nervous of strangers. And I suppose I look stranger than most. Those that know me would agree with the last comment.
I woke Aba & Blood at 10:00 so that we could all have breakfast on the sun terrace of the hotel before going for a wander around the city.
What is the point of coming all this way and spending most of the day in bed!
Anybody who has ever
been out on the road touring either as a band member or back-up
personnel reading this will know the routine only too well:
Airport-Hotel-Venue (sound check)-Hotel-Venue (gig)-Hotel-Airport,
without ever seeing anything of the country that you are in.
Music has provided an opportunity for us to visit other countries and to be able to see things that we wouldn't see back home. When one is old and waiting for Jah's call won't it be better to think about things that you have done rather than things that you could have done. When I am older and my grandchildren come to me and say "Granddad, mummy / daddy said that you did such & such, did you"?
With a gleam in my eye and a smile on my face I can say "Yes I did that" or "I Went there" as I reminisce about my past.
Anyway back to the report:
The sun was beaming down as we had our breakfast and spirits were high as we surveyed Tel-Aviv from our hotel roof.
We had to do a couple of interviews and a photo-shoot before the session at Dinamo and sound check was at 1400.
Guil was coming to pick us up for the sound check at 1'o clock, after which we had and the first round of interviews and the photo-shoot.
As we were talking over
breakfast, Aba asked me who had his room the last time we stayed
at the hotel.
Blood said he was in that room last time and I asked "Why"?
"I can see a picture of the 'Mask' on the wall as I look out of the window", Aba said.
The Mask is our company's logo.
So we all went down to Aba's room and peered out of the window. Lo and behold there on the garden wall of the building next door was a picture of the 'Mask'.
Aba said "If that is not a sign from Jah that coming here now was the right move and he is watching over us, I don't know what is"? We had to admit that it was surely a strange thing.
Seeing the mask like that alleviated any fears / doubts in our mind and raised our spirits no end.
Anyway Guil came at
the appointed time and we went to the sound check. We were discussing
the 'Mask' incident between us and Guil asked us if there really
was a picture on the wall or was it something abstract that resembled
When we told him that it was the actual 'Mask' he exclaimed surprise and said that he wanted to see it, but as we wouldn't be getting until it was dark it would have to wait until the following day.
When we arrived at the club we were met by a long time Aba-ite Kate. She had relocated to Israel a year or so before and had come down to the club just to hang out and catch up on the happenings in London.
The sound check went well, so we wrapped it up and went on to our next appointment, the photo shoot.
We arrived at the photo shoot and were interviewed as the shoot progressed.
A little tale about
how music can reach people regardless of any factors.
The photographer told us as we were talking during the shoot that he had come along to the first gig we did last year at 'Dinamo' out of curiosity. He wanted to see for himself what this Aba Shanti thing was all about.
He normally listened to Techno / Electronic music. But from entering the club and hearing the music, the vibe entered him. And rather than stay the odd hour, he stayed right until the end; six and half-hours later!
The feeling he got from the atmosphere inside the club he said was euphoric / spiritual / empathic all rolled into one. He had never experienced anything like it. And now he was buying Roots tunes and buying old reggae tunes to find that the vibe was always there in the music, it was just he had never checked for it.
When I came home I checked my photos from the first session of the people at the end and sure enough there he was, right up front.
We left the photo shoot and went for something to eat. Guil asked us where we wanted to go and Aba said the Falasha restaurant. We had eaten there on our last trip and the food is excellent. After the meal we went back to the hotel to rest up and prepare for the session ahead.
The session was due
to start at midnight and Guil was picking us up at 23:15, so we
had a few hours to kill. Sleep was the order of the day.
Guil ever punctual arrived at 23:15 and we were ready to depart. As we drove along the beach road Guil drove pass the 'Pansha' nightclub that had been the victim of the suicide bomber. He proceeded to tell us that 'Hamas' had promised a bombing every Friday night and this was a Friday night!
Not the most reassuring thing to mention.
We arrived at the venue
and as Aba checked everything was in order soundwise, Blood and
I set up the record stall.
Aba started playing at 23:45 and the club started to let the people in, and in they came.
Due to the troubles I was not expecting the same influx of patrons as on our last visit, but I was wrong!
The place soon filled up and as I looked at the crowd I could see faces that I recognised from our last trip and new faces that I hadn't seen before.
As Aba rocked the crowd I took photos in between manning the stall.
The greatest pleasure for me of the night was the number of people who came up to the stall not to buy anything, but to shake our hands and thank us for coming to play and not cancelling like so many others.
The night was another success and instead of finishing at 0330 - 0400 as advertised, went on to 0600 just like the last session.
The session was filmed for inclusion on a web cam site (more on that when it is finalised).
One thing I have noticed over the years watching the crowd's reactions when Aba plays, and that is the females of the species hit the groove from the beginning of a session and that the males of the species take just a little longer to as Aba says "To free up themselves". The daughters of Israel were no exception.
We left the venue as
the sun shone brightly over Tel Aviv and headed back to the hotel
for a well deserved rest.
Today was Saturday and we were going to visit the 'Dead Sea' later that afternoon.
I was woken up by a call from Aba to come to his room quick! I rushed to his room to see him looking out of his window.
"Look at this" he said as I entered his room. I peered over his shoulder to see what he was pointing at and was amazed by what I saw.
In the garden next door on their wall wasn't one picture of the 'Mask', but two!
Blood rushed into the room after hearing Aba call him. His room was next door.
Yesterday we could only see one because they had a sun shade down and it was covering the other one.
I went back to my room and returned with my camera and took some pictures of the wall.
I then suggested that as we are now up, we might as well go shopping in the market for gifts for the family back home, and that when Guil comes, we will ask him to accompany us to the building next door to enquire about the pictures on their wall.
So we went for stroll
around the market and brought one or two things to take back as
Guil arrived at 1330 and went straight to Aba's room to look out of his window to see the pictures on the wall.
He was as surprised as we were at them being on the wall directly outside of Aba's room.
We had to find out more about the people next door and how they come to have images of the 'Mask' on their garden wall.
Guil if required could act as an interpreter.
So we all went down and knocked on the door of the building next door. When the owner came to the door Guil asked him about the pictures of the 'Mask' and how long it had been there. He told us that his girl friend had got the pictures in Jerusalem about 3 months ago and that they had never heard of Aba Shanti or 'Falasha recordings'.
Guil explained who we were and the significance of the 'Mask' to us. I gave him one of our business cards with the 'Mask' logo and he told us that his girlfriend would love it as she had developed quite a fascination for images of the 'Mask'. We thanked him for his time and went to start our journey to the Dead Sea.
Robie and Yossef came with us on our trip and with a session tape on the stereo we headed for the 'Dead Sea'.
We had a great time in the 'Dead Sea', floating on our backs.
But all too soon we had to leave and return to Tel Aviv.
The following day we were returning home and there were breakfast interviews planned for 10:00.
So we chilled out in the hotel.
In the morning Kate came to join us for breakfast on the roof and stayed while the interviews took place.
After the interviews Kate acted as a guide while we toured the markets and shops for the last time.
Guil came to collect us from the hotel to take us to the airport at 1300 and our flight home.
Raspects to the following:
Guil Rasta, Ras Kulcha & Sister Kulcha, Ilan & Guil from
Dinamo Dvash, Dj Kwame, Kate, Robie, Yossef, The Sons & Daughters
of Israel, Dub Flower Crew, The Falasha Crew,
The Travelling Crew from England, Dr Reggae (Tal), and to all those who made this night special.
See you again soon.
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