One hot summer night in 1997, under the starry desert sky at Masada mountaintop in Israel, I fell in love with Rami Kleinstein.
"Get yourself some apples and dates/sweeten up your days/He's not worth the pain/that rattles your heart."
I felt as if Rami was singing directly to me, as he played piano while the sun rose on one of Israel's most famous sites. The song was "Apples and Dates" from his 1995 triple-platinum eponymous album. It was an album that solidified his place in the canon of Israeli pop stars, culminating in his most recent album, "Say It," which hit platinum in Israel.
Now the American-born singer and composer is coming to Los Angeles as part of a six-city tour, "Rami and the Piano." While the charming chanteur has played here before, his new solo tour, produced by Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble, is aimed at English-speaking audiences. The proceeds will benefit the community programs produced by Keshet Chaim, a nonprofit organization whose goal is also to bring Israeli artists to the general American community.
With his dancing fingers and heartfelt lyrics, Rami has often been called Israel's answer to Billy Joel and Elton John. Besides his music, his other claim to fame has been his wife: the sexy singer, Rita. Rami has composed for his wife and they produced a joint album, "Rita and Rami," which they performed in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Like other Israeli singers, Rami has sung about the political unrest, as in his first solo album in 1986, "The Day of the Bomb," which went gold. He has also released his own versions of American music, namely Bob Dylan's "Forever Young"; but his most poignant work is when he sings about -- you guessed it -- love.
"Everything you want/everything you ask for/I will do everything in my power to do it for you/I am captivated by your magic/just whisper it/everything you want, I will do it for you."
Every time I hear Rami sing this, I know it is meant for his wife, Rita. But still, I remember our time on Masada together, so many years ago, and I pretend he's singing it just to me.
Play it again, Sam.
Rami Kleinstein will perform "Rami and the Piano" on Saturday, Dec. 6, 8 p.m. at Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. For more information, call (818) 986-7332 or visit www.kcdancers.org .