Israeli singer, South Bay band team up via YouTubeby dan pine, j. staff
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It’s a plum gig for a local band: playing backup for Israeli pop star Efrat Gosh at Israel in the Gardens. But to prepare for the concert, members of the South Bay quintet Peatot had to learn her songs, and fast.
So they clicked on YouTube and started cramming.
Making their fourth straight appearance at Israel in the Gardens, Peatot specializes in covers of Israeli rock classics from the last 30 years. When they heard Gosh would not be bringing her own band — and were offered the opportunity to accompany her — they jumped on it.
“I think she’s a very unique artist,” says Peatot lead singer Yoram Zarfaty. “The plan is to do some of her songs, some duets, and then she’s going to join us [on] some covers.”
Ever since her 2005 self-titled album debut, Gosh has captivated Israeli music fans with her smoky jazz-based take on contemporary pop, a kind of Lady-Gaga-meets-Nina-Simone.
She’s also been cast in a number of Israeli films and television shows.
However, her music has a bit of a down-tempo dark side, nothing like the nonstop party vibe of Peatot.
Neither Gosh nor Peatot worried about the disparity. “I heard their music and it sounds really good,” says Gosh, 28, whose Israel in the Gardens gig marks her first visit to California. “I told myself, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ ”
Gosh forwarded the band links to her YouTube clips, which Zarfaty and company studied closely.
“At the beginning we thought, oh, she’s low key and not what we do,” he recalled, “but we chose some songs together with her that sound really good. At Israel in the Gardens, you need to come up with something alive.”
Formed in 2008 (and named for the Hebrew plural term for pita bread) Peatot is made up of five Israeli expatriates who work in Silicon Valley. Besides Zarfaty, other regular band members are Raviv Moore on guitar, Guy “L.” on the keyboard, Tomer Dichterman on drums and Shay Shmeltzer on bass. Hi-tech is just their day job. Rock ‘n’ roll is their passion.
The members have lived in the region for years, with some as long as a decade. Playing in Peatot “is complementing our being Israelis in Silicon Valley,” Zarfaty says. “We spread the love of Israeli music among the Israeli and Jewish communities here. I like to see people dancing to Israeli music and having fun.”
Peatot does have an original or two, but mostly churns out songs made famous by Israeli stalwarts such as Rami Kleinstein, Machina and Monica Sex. Zarfaty says Peatot has a simple formula for picking songs: Make sure at least 90 percent of the Israelis in the audience knows the tune.
Zarfaty and Gosh plan to sing a few duets on stage at Israel in the Gardens. “It’s exciting to work with new people,” Gosh says.
Both Gosh and the band will have a chance to move beyond playing along with YouTube clips. Gosh arrives in the Bay Area a few days before Israel in the Gardens, allowing for a live rehearsal or two.
Though based in the South Bay, Peatot gets around. Last year the band performed shows as far away as Milwaukee and Chicago. Peatot recently returned from Las Vegas, where the group played a concert in honor of Israel’s Independence Day.
That’s actually how it all started for Peatot.
“The band was created to play for a party for Independence Day in 2008,” Zarfaty says. “It makes me feel closer to who I am. I’m Israeli. I’m very lucky to have this band.”
Efrat Gosh and Peatot play 2 p.m. on the main stage
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