Israeli rock band Kaveret will reunite at S.F. festival

One of the last times the members of the legendary Israeli rock band Kaveret reunited, it took 300 police, 350 security personnel, six ambulances and 40 paramedics to keep the 45,000 screaming, singing fans in check.

Of the thousands there on May 28, 1998, many were not even born at the time of the band's previous reunion, nearly a decade earlier.

The Sunday, June 1 "Israel in the Gardens" festival will mark Kaveret's, count it, fourth semi-reunion since its break up in 1976, which was followed by its first official reunion eight years later.

Its appearance in San Francisco will reunite four of the original members of Kaveret, including Danny Sanderson and Gidi Gov, and members of their individual follow-up bands, Gazoz and Doda.

"All three groups are very different, so we'll get to see a bit of Kaveret, Gazos and Doda," Sanderson said in a recent phone interview from his home in Tel Aviv. "All of us, we go back 30 years, so it will really be a retrospective show."

Sanderson and Gov are the common denominators of the three bands. Their reunion in the incarnation of Kaveret, Gazoz and Doda, performed by Gidi Gov, Danny Sanderson and Friends, has transformed their eclectic Israeli rock sound into a conglomeration of refined personal tastes and a developed style.

It's a sound that has been polished over the years and one that Sanderson has never been more proud of.

"We've gotten better with each [reunion]," said the musician. "We sing having had years of experience on stage now. It's one of the things you actually gain with time."

Great rock bands have a history of coming back to life after dis-band-ing, which is great news for fans, for record companies that see record sales jump and for experienced rockers, who get to show the fresh new faces of the music scene how it's done. Or, at least, how it used to be done.

Van Halen did it. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did it. The Go-Gos did it. And Kaveret, in its various manifestations, has been no exception.

Following their first reunion in 1984, members of Kaveret celebrated their second reunion in 1991. That reunion was captured in the documentary film "Kaveret — Pictures from a Band's Life (Kaveret — Tmunot MeHayey Lahaka)." But the driving success of both was not enough to keep the band from dispersing once again.

Luckily, fans could count on a third reunion seven years later. By then, enough time had passed since their initial break up for a new generation of fans to mature to the sounds of Kaveret.

The latest reunion, explained Sanderson, is actually a reunion of three Sanderson-Gidi brainchildren. With Kaveret, Gazoz and Doda touring concert venues together in Israel for the past few months, their concert at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens kicks off its American leg of the tour, hitting Boston and New York in the following weeks.

American audiences should be ready to hear a confluence of tunes that span the past 30 years, he said, including classic Israeli chart-toppers such as "Adulterous Boots (HaMagafaim Shel Baruch)," "The Grocery Store (Shir HaMakolet)" and "The Crux Of The Matter (Po Kavur HaKelev)."

"Oldies but goldies, I call them," Sanderson said. "We're playing everyone's top hit over the last 30 years."

Inviting Kaveret, Gazoz and Doda to play at "Israel in the Gardens" was a priority for organizers at the San Francisco Israel Center. Seeing them play in the Bay Area is a lot like being reunited with old friends, said Vavi Toran, the director of cultural and educational resources.

"They came around at the strange time between the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, a time in Israeli history right before what I consider Israel's loss of innocence," Toran reflected. "They were able to capture that specific segment in Israel's history."

The sound was complex and silly and unlike anything Toran and her generation had heard hitting the Israeli airwaves, she said. It wasn't Westernized Israeli pop, or folk or Middle Eastern, but it was as unique as the era itself.

"This is our nostalgia. This is our Israel," Toran said. "As much as it's a reunion for all of them, it's reunion for all of us too with our heritage."