Such is the case with Israeli guitarist Meir Shitrit. Now an Ocean Beach local and a member of the award-winning world music group Todo Mundo, Shitrit was already a successful musician in his home country, coming to the area to expand his musical horizons.
“My first time in San Diego was kind of coincidence,” he said. “It was seven years ago, back at the time I was playing with a famous singer in Israel named Micha Biton. He was invited to play a couple concerts here in San Diego for the Jewish community and, luckily, I was part of the band which toured with him.”
Shitrit returned to San Diego during 2012.
“I arrived in San Diego again in order to stay and find more music opportunities,” he said. “I loved the vibe, the colors but mainly the beautiful people who live here.”
Although he had been here before, Shitrit experienced some culture shock on his second arrival.
“The vibe here is different from Israel on every level,” he said. “Back In Israel, I used to play with many famous artists and in big productions, but it was so intense and sometimes less fun. Here, it’s more about the true connection to the music. It doesn’t make music less important if you enjoy this creativity and have a smile on your face while you play.”
His perspective on San Diego’s music scene is refreshing.
“The music scene in Israel is really tough because although it is a small place, there are so many great musicians all over the place,” Shitrit said. “So, you develop a lot and absorb a lot from each other, but there is big competition on every free slot in the music business. Here, the place is huge and it seems like there is room for everyone. Not like in Israel, where there are not many who can live a dignified life as a musician.”
Shitrit said he is happy to play with any musician, anytime. Indeed, it’s in that spirit of musical community that he came to join Todo Mundo.
“I didn’t intend on playing with them [regularly],”Shitrit said. “Everything happened by itself in a really cosmic way. I saw these guys playing once at the farmers market in Little Italy and it was so beautiful I was kind of hypnotized by their music. So, I approached them and presented myself.”
Shitrit said he made an immediate connection with drummer Matt Bozzone.
“We started jamming and playing outside of Todo Mundo, but after awhile, Matt called me at the last minute to see if I could play with them at a Jimmy Love’s gig downtown because the horn player didn’t show up. So, I said ‘Yes.’”
Shitrit jumped into the gig and it proved to be a perfect match.
“I love each guy in this band,” he said. “We are like a family. I have been playing with the band for almost a year and I was also lucky enough to be part of the new album ‘Conexion.’ I feel that I had room on the album to express my musical ideas and style, and that what I love the most about this band.”
Shitrit said his inspiration to play guitar was rooted in his own family.
“I have been playing guitar from a really young age,” he said. “My main inspiration was my father, the way he used to play the guitar and sing all the time when I was a child. It seems to me like something spiritual. He gave me the bug and encouraged me to become a musician.”
The younger Shitrit was 15 years old when he gave his first public performance.
“I played a classical piece, I think it was by Bach. I was a bit nervous at the moment, but the crowd reaction was great and supportive,” Shitrit said.
His musical range, as featured on his 2012 solo album, “Way,” remains expansive, touching on everything from jazz to reggae.
Upcoming projects include a sec-ond instrumental album and more gigging and recording with Todo Mundo.
Shitrit said he is thrilled with the connections and music made since his arrival in San Diego.
As with anything, there was always a chance things might not work out in terms of the musical horizon, but he cites taking artistic risk as a crucial part of his artistic process.
“My favorite part about being a mu-ician is the good surprises along the way, the endless opportunities,” he said. “Being a musician, you don’t really know what you will accomplish two years from now.
There is something fascinat-ing and beautiful about the unknown. For me it’s the best part.”
For more information, visit www.reverbnation.com/meirshitrit.