Where have all the Renaissance men gone? Well, one just recently returned from Israel. Mike Roth is a singing, songwriting, bass playing, Carnegie Mellon University engineering and public policy doctoral student.
Since 2009, Roth has visited Israel 10 times. Between March 27 and April 3, the Pittsburgh-raised Roth was there again. This time, he participated in the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Volunteer Center’s Mission to Israel. Although Roth volunteered throughout the Karmiel/Misgav region, he had other plans for his time abroad.
On March 31, at Pub Ella in Misgav, Roth opened for Erez Lev Ari, an Israeli singer-songwriter.
“Opening for Erez Lev Ari was like a dream come true for me,” said Roth. “I’m a big fan, I was excited to be opening for him.”
Roth’s introduction to Lev Ari’s music is lyrically enchanting.
“I heard his music on my first trip [to Israel] when camping in the desert. They woke us up by turning on the radio, and I heard his music, and I was like, what was this? It’s amazing.”
The Lev Ari song being played from a Jeep radio that morning in the Negev Desert was “What Will I Do?” Roth wrote on Facebook. “Ever since then, his music has held a special place in my heart.”
Lev Ari’s music is characterized by soulful melodies. His song “Ana Efne” (“Where Will I Turn”) served as the theme song for “Srugim,” an award-winning Israeli television show, which aired from 2008 to 2012. “Ana Efne” has received more than 3 million views on Lev Ari’s YouTube channel.
Roth said that he met Lev Ari “briefly at one of his concerts in 2014.”
But when Roth realized that this Israel trip coincided with one of Lev Ari’s performances, Roth reached out.
“I emailed [him] and asked if I could open for him,” said Roth, who sent along a link to his own song, “Slow Down.” The single, as well as the eponymous album, is available for download on iTunes and Spotify.
Roth’s music is easy-listening and lends itself well to his visual choices in “Slow Down’s” music video.
Filmed throughout Haifa, the video features playful engagements with local residents.
In comments to CMU News, Roth described the process of making the video:
“We didn’t plan any of it. We didn’t know who we’d meet. We didn’t know what was going to be in it. The culture is a bit different from the U.S. in that the country was founded with Kibbutzim and many socialist ideals, and so there is still an element of things being more communal there than they are here in the U.S. Some people didn’t even speak English, but, for example, we went to a Haifa fire station, and they let us stand on all the trucks and capture video of that. It was really fun.”
Much like he did in Haifa, Roth hopes to make connections in the Karmiel/Misgav region.
“I’m potentially going back in the fall to do some research and would like to see if there are any ideas for projects that could be carried out,” he said.
And while Roth’s various objectives play to his diverse interests, he made it clear that there was also a simpler goal for this past trip.
“I wanted to have a fun time in Israel,” he said.
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.