Those who attended the Shemeshfest Sukkot festival last week at the Bet Shemesh ampitheater were treated to a talented local rock group named “Rockiah” – the English name of the band is a play on their Hebrew name ???? (The Earth’s Firmament), and their American rock music roots.
Rockiah are Yehudah David (vocals, guitars), Zvi Newman (bass), and David Epstein (drums). Eli Krantman joined them on backing vocals.
Yehudah, Zvi, and David all live in Ramat Bet Shemesh and are olim from the USA.
I spoke with Zvi about the origins of Rockiah and what they hope to accomplish. Zvi told me they are all married with kids and come from different backgrounds, but their music speaks one language.
“Rockiah is about fusing the raw power of rock music with the spiritual inspiration of the Jewish mekorot (written sources). Yehudah is influenced by Van Halen and other power-pop artists, so his guitar playing is among the wildest on the scene. Dave’s drumming is influenced by punk, so we have a harder-driving sound in our shows – and his aggressive fills make you take notice. I’m influenced by John Entwistle of The Who, so the bass surprises the crowd with “stolen” solos that bubble up from underneath. And Yehudah’s singing overflows with pure heart and soul.”
“Rockiah’s music is written entirely by Yehudah, while the lyrics are straight out of the Psalms and various prayers. It’s meant to be lively and catchy for the audience, and it’s challenging for the musicians – the chords change every few seconds, so we have to be on our toes. Also, we love to improvise solos off the top of our heads – but all of this is meant to augment the uplifting, danceable essence of the songs. You can drive, work, jog, or clean the house to Rockiah, and come out of it very inspired.”
“At the end of the day, we try to give a fresh and energetic musical foundation to the experience of the holy as espoused by the lyrics. The Jewish content takes rock to a higher plane.”
Rockiah is now promoting its new CD and plan to join the performance circuit. Their debut album, Bonei Yerushalayim, was released just a couple weeks ago and is available online at shemeshmusic.com and at GalPaz stores. You can hear sample tracks at shemeshmusic.com before purchase. You can also learn more about Rockiah on their Facebook and Myspace homepages.
We wish them much success!