SOMA fest for 20s, 30s plugs world music, Israeli culture

Designed to appeal to those in their 20s and 30s, "Beyond Tel Aviv" is planned as an alternative festival in conjunction with "Israel at 50."

While the main event, which lures thousands, is geared to a family-oriented audience, the South of Market fringe festival is specifically aimed at younger U.S. Jews and local Israelis.

Featuring performance art, world music as well as Israeli food and beverages, the event will last from 9 p.m. Saturday, April 25 to the wee hours at the Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom St., S.F.

Up to 1,200 people, 21 and older, are expected to attend. Event co-sponsors — the Israel Center, Tzavta and the Israel Project — have promoted "Beyond Tel Aviv" in part to include individuals who might otherwise be left out of the Israel anniversary festivities.

"We're hoping to create an atmosphere for people who aren't part of a local family, who aren't into the [main] festival or aren't into Israeli culture," organizer Lani Raider said.

And who knows — a good party could be just the right tonic for the post-Pesach blues.

Raider speculated that some may come to the fringe fest and decide to attend the main event at Golden Gate Park in June.

"We want people to get into the party mode, then come to Golden Gate Park and eat, drink, dance and enjoy in a community way."

"Beyond Tel Aviv" promises a good dose of Israeli culture via Israeli performers, music and plenty of information on Israel's anniversary, according to Raider.

The lineup at the South of Market nightclub includes:

*San Francisco popsinger-songwriter Deborah Pardes, who mixes folk, pop, jazz and classical influences. Pardes, who has just released her latest CD, "Live in Concert," has opened as a solo artist for Todd Rundgren, David Wilcox and Mose Allison and has performed her music at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and The Sweetwater, a blues nightclub in Mill Valley.

*Comedian Dan Rothenberg, who began his career in Oregon but has become a Bay Area mainstay with his comic worldviews and insights on Generation X.

*The New York band Inasense, which says it sounds like what might happen if the members of Rusted Root, the Dave Matthews Band and some obscure country group were thrown in a blender, lost in the Israeli desert for a few years and then relocated to New York City. That's essentially what happened to some of the American-born members of the band, who grew up in Israel and fuse Middle Eastern sounds into a rock repertoire.

*Israeli musician Yair Dalal, who plays an oud in classical, blues and ethnic styles. Dalal, who will be playing with Inasense, has an international reputation and has collaborated with Palestinian, Spanish and other ethnic musicians.

*DJ Mongrel and DJ Sloppy J, who will play salsa, world and funk in the disco.

*Trapeze artist Eric Newton, who will do his thing, heads above the rest, so to speak.

And what's a Holy Land theme party without an Israeli trivia contest? Throw in a poetry slam and you've got a little something for everyone.

"There are a variety of ways for people to enter this event, whether [the motivation is] an interest in seeing a trapeze artist, dancing or wanting to connect with people who have been to Israel and want to celebrate together," Raider said.

Tickets for "Beyond Tel Aviv" are $10, or $8 for students, and are available through (510) 762-BASS or City Box Office, (415) 392-4400. Tickets will be $13 at the door. Group sales are available through the Israel Center at (415) 278-0630.

Lori Eppstein

Lori Eppstein is a former staff writer.