Coming From a Heritage of Good Folk


Not every up-and-coming rebel rocker/fine-voiced folkie earns enough money to jingle-jangle in his pocket.

But then, not every one grew up knowing the value of jingles.

Ari Hest did; his father wrote them, and his son occasionally performed them in commercials — when he wasn't doing backup choral work for his mother, the cantor.

Music as muse? Sure, but now Hest's quest is to have his own voice. And he's been doing fairly well at it since 2002.

Meet the folkie: He'll be bringing his two-man band — joined by bassist Rob Calder — to World Cafe Live for a single performance on Saturday night, April 23.

No wine before its time? He'll be coming back May 7 for a gig at the New Hope Winery in Bucks County.

It's all part of an electric schedule that has Hest criss-crossing the country with little breathing room. He's already been acclaimed as a breath of fresh air by critics and those who have marveled at the quick rise of his first album in four years, "Sunset Over Hope Street."

Son rise, "Sunset": Swiftly fly the years. Yes, Hest allows, it seems like only yesterday when the now 32-year-old New York University grad was a 6-year-old in Riverdale raised by his musical folks to command center stage (or, at least, the living room).

Before "Sunset," Hest had become somewhat famous for his musical game of 52 pick-up; writing, recording a new song each week for a year and having fans vote their favorites online. The best of the best — with the rest laid to rest — made up his album, "Twelve Mondays."

"Mondays," "Mondays," so good to him: The album attracted attention, acclaim and notoriety for the notable way he worked the Net and the art.

Ironically, working without a net has always had its appeal for the artist, raising the bar on music.

Just raise the bar as a topic. No way, he has told his agent, will he "appear in loud bars. I don't do rowdy shows; they're listening shows."

Listen, do you want to know a secret? Hest "never had to study music; never had to learn to read notes," growing up in a musical home, he got — and he means this in the best way possible — an earful. "Hearing music played at home made sense to my ears."

Made sense, too, that his mom made such a soulful and sensitive singer part of her choir at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck, N.Y.

Great exposure is what Hest was to get when his songs were picked up by a number of TV shows ("Private Practice," "One Tree Hill") and movies ("The Lincoln Lawyer") and, blame it on Rio, by a Brazilian soap opera.

With a milk and honey smoothness to his lyrics/sweet smokey voice, surely he'd find a home for them in Israel, a natural Hest nest for a one-time choir boy.

"I've been getting a lot of email from fans there who have heard my work, and I'm actually looking into going over," says Hest.

After all, isn't "Until Next Time" — one of the more noteworthy selections on his current album — just another way for a Jewish troubadour to say, "Next year in Jerusalem!"?


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