"Poet Developer" Turns to Music

Developer Bob Stark is back in Israel not just for real estate, but also to promote his new album with Yehudah Katz of Reva L'Sheva fame.

Ben Bresky , | updated: 7:34 PM

Bob Stark, Yehudah Katz and Gilad Vital
Bob Stark, Yehudah Katz and Gilad Vital
courtesy Bob Stark

Developer Robert "Bob" Stark is back in Israel, not just to work on his high-end real estate projects but also to help promote his new music CD. Stark is the man behind such developments as suburban Cleveland, Ohio's Crocker Park, which mixes residential apartments with retail stores, restaurants and parks.  

He is also developing a major real estate project in the Galilee area near Tzfat. It is this northern city, known as the birthplace of Kabbalah, where Stark will join Yehudah Katz as they continue to promote the new album Not Without You (Biladecha Lo Avo in Hebrew).  Stark teamed with the veteran Jewish singer-songwriter from the band Reva L'Sheva and brought along award-winning Israeli artist Gilad Vital of the award-winning Israeli group Shotei Hanevuah. 

The CD has received positive reviews and airplay in the Israeli media and was even featured on El Al plane flights. Stark spoke to Israel National Radio about his real estate, his music and how the two are related. 
"I do what I'd like to think of as unique and creative mixed-use developments. I call myself the poet developer," said Stark in a phone interview.  
"People are surprised I didn't take business in college, but rather was an English literature major. But really the way I develop real estate is a creative outlet for me. The creation of the shopping centers and apartments is the canvas that I work on."  
Stark started writing poetry and music in his youth. His backing vocals are featured on several CDs from musicians in Jewish community of Cleveland where he currently lives, but Yehudah Katz's new album Not Without You is Stark's first serious attempt in releasing his own compositions to the public.   

Katz says when the two first met, Stark gave him some songs he wrote and asked him to "Katzify" them. The result is a mix of groovy, world-beat, guitar based songs with Hebrew lyrics.  
Stark refers to himself as "that meshuggenah from Cleveland," seemingly out of place with the colorfully dressed musicians. But the poet developer states, "Music is the common denominator that can reach the Jewish neshama [soul] across the spectrum. We thought of it as our mission to create an album of world music with spirituality that would appeal to religious and secular alike."  
Yehudah Katz spent over fifteen years performing with the band Reva L'Sheva. The band's music was a mix of the songs of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach with a little bit of color from the Grateful Dead and other 60's music thrown in. Katz personally played with Rabbi Carlebach for many years. Not Without You is his second solo CD. The first one Come Close, primarily with English lyrics, was released in 1993.
Stark is excited about the Galilee and it comes to no surprise that one of the latest in a series of concerts promoting the CD should take place there. "When you take all of the human and cultural aspects and connect them to the core," Stark states, "you have a region that has incredible power and strength. And it's right here in. The Galil is unbelievable and everyone should experience it."  
The tenders and permits are falling into place for the future city, but it will still be quite a while before anyone lives there. As usual, Stark is characteristically optimistic. For a past article about the planned city including maps, click here
"People ask, what makes you a visionary? The key is simple. I don't see things as they are, I see things as they should be and as they will be. That's what we should all be doing. Let's go about our business of developing the land of Israel and bringing more and more people here."   
Yehudah Katz will perform songs from the new CD Not Without You on April 3rd at the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem, April 7th at the Khan of the White Donkey in Tzfat and April 14th at Shamayim in Tel Aviv. The touring band consists of Eyal Sela on ethnic winds instruments, Asaf Avidar on keyboards, Ilan Starkman on bass, Lior Shulman on percussion, Yehudah Katz on vocals and guitar. 
Ben Bresky is a music journalist and host of the Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast on Arutz 7 - Israel National Radio. His archives and blog can be found here.