The first and most popular of the current wave of Israeli hippie bands, Sheva still serves to some degree as the gold standard for the genre. They defined the general look — flowing white garments, dreadlocks — as well as the sound of many hippie bands which followed.
As its name suggests, Sheva has seven members. Each are multi-talented and fluent on a host of exotic instruments such as the dahola and the baglama. (No, I don’t know what either of these instruments are and I’m too lazy to look it up. Anyone who knows is welcome to share with the group.) The band came together during the 1995 Acre Theatre Festival, where several members of the band were taking part in an experimental play.
The band released its first disc, Hahatuna Hashmeimit (”The Celestial Wedding”) in 1997. The record — complete with its environmentally friendly recycled cardboard wrapping — sold steadily on the strength of the song Salam. The song features lyrics in Hebrew and Arabic which call for “peace, on us and on all the world.” It became a big hit and is still a popular show closer at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and high school graduations.
Salam highlights the Sheva worldview in a nutshell. These guys are all about peace, love, and cooperation.
As part of this ideology, they are an integrated band with one Arab member among the septet.
Sheva has released two other albums — 1999’s Yom Velaila (”Day and Night”) and 2002’s Gan, as well as a live album from the band’s Australian tour. Sheve has a large fan base and has toured constantly over the last decade. They appeared at numerous ethnic music festivals, as well as any number of events dedicated to promoting peace.
In theory, the band was supposed to work as a collective, with no members getting more attention than the rest of the group. That setup lasted until 2001 when one of the group’s members, Mosh Ben Ari, put out his first solo album as a side project.