Meet the Hazelnuts. A charming Jerusalem trio whose self-styled post-doo-wop swing brings the look 'n' feel of the 1930's American music scene to contemporary classics (yes readers, I am talking about Beyonce covers). If you're into vintage bands with a good old washboard players, or you've got an taste for fascinators and eyeliner with flicks, then these musicians will be your cuppa tea. The Hazelnuts were the delightful hosts of 'Rent Party' the 'Nomadic House Party, Harlem-Style' which took place as part of the In-house Festival. Located on Jerusalemite's residential roof tops, audiences were greeted with a shot of arak which helped to loosen them up before being invited to (literally.. metaphorically) kick off their shoes for some swing steps.
But 'Rent Party' is not just stylish swing show, the event takes is inspiration for New York at the beginning of the last century where these events played a crucial role in the Harlem Renaissance and the development of jazz and blues music. Struggling to make the rent, creative tenants got into the entrepreneurial buzz of hosting events as a way to bring in the extra cash. The phenomenon was part-house and part grassroots social welfare. Rearranging the furniture and making their homes into venues was not only a way to increase monthly income but was also a DIY injection of culture, music and social good times for residents. The set-up was low-key, the food was home cooked and booze was cheap.
In-House Festival found their venues through crowd sourcing using social media - the request was a simple one, can you offer your accommodation to host a party that would raise funds to pay your rent? The response was strong - this city, like many others, is not short of artists and students who struggle to make the rent. We all know that globally, the cost of living in capital cities is becoming excruciatingly painful for many, especially artists who head to the bright lights to be part of a creative community. Within Israel raising the alarm against the escalating housing crisis led to creative explosion of Tel Aviv's 'tent protest' which took place in the heart of Rothschild Boulevard in the summer of 2011. Shedding light on the escalating housing crisis, the protest became a unique meeting of artist and activists and informed the exploration for 'Rent Party'. It is interesting to look back at how the Harlem communities faced their socio-economic struggles, a sort of historical perspective on the current housing issues. And without glossing over difficulties or tainting it all with a dose of nostalgia, it's also important to celebrate the creativity, artistic talent and self-expression that can flourish within difficult the most conditions.
Participants: The Hazelnuts—Shira Z. Carmel, Yifeat Ziv and Sapir Rosenblatt
Contrabass: Shay Hazan
Guitar: Dotan Cohen
Washboard: Yoav Elkayam
Trumpet: Eli Ferminger
Artistic Director: Dafna Kron
Producer: Lia Lerer