FolkWorld Live Review 8/2000:
The Tanz & Folk Fest in Rudolstadt is well know for its special atmosphere - a whole town bursting with music. More than 30 stages (most of them open air) are spread in such diverse places as the market square, the castle terrace on the hill, a park, a church, a cinema etc., all of them filled with music from all over the world. You can hear music from Canada to Japan, from Zimbabwe to Denmark, from Poland to India or from Italy to Hawaii. The focus of this review is the European section of the line up - you know that this music is our great love. Still the great thing about Rudolstadt is that you very often walk around and suddenly you are stuck by great music, coming sometimes from places you have never heard music from before. And the atmosphere is unique - everywhere is music, the audience is very relaxed and in a good party mood, the musicians play passionately - it is a feeling which can not be described but must be experienced!
Rudolstadt festival has always two specials, the one being a focal country (this time England), the other a "magic instrument" focus (this year the voice) - still, if these specials are not your cup of tea, there is always plenty of other music, and the specials can be easily avoided (OK this year's instrument focus - the voice - was quite hard to avoid...). Both focuses are highlighted in a special concert, but you can see these bands and musicians also on other stages around the weekend.
This years festival started already a day earlier than usual with a special Thursday concert of Goran Bregovic and his wedding and funeral band. For those (like us) who arrived at the festival only on Friday, the festival start was very wet. Very heavy rain started just at the same time as the England special concert - what an coincidence... so right from the start, this year's festival had its running joke.
The rain stopped in time to see a wonderful concert of the Northern Italian band BonificaEmilianaVeneta or short B.E.V.. The six lads from the Emiliana (Romagna) and Veneta region play mighty traditional music from their home regions. They have an acoustic line up with guitar, double bass, percussion instruments (like tambourine, plastic bags [oh yes, this IS an instrument of BEV] etc), piva (the Italian bagpipe), accordion and fiddle - and they do sing with breathtaking harmonies. It is great to see new European regional music flourish - great job lads!
During the night the rain started again heavily; some of the campers even thought about leaving already on Saturday morning, when they awoke with the rhythm of raindrops on their tents. Still those (and that were most) who survived until noon were lucky, as the rest of the festival stayed mainly dry.
A new discovered music pearl was for me the Polish band 'Kapela ze wsi Warzsawa' (= 'band from the village of Warsaw') - this young band (four girls and two boys) combines the powerful voices and the string instruments (as fiddle, ancient form of the fiddle called female dog fiddle, or Cello?) of the girls with percussion (no drumkit, only traditional hand drums) of the boys. The Kapela ze wsi Warzsawa interprets ancient melodies and songs on acoustic instruments in a very modern and up to date sounding way. In Poland they will make their way for sure with their powerful live sound - hopefully they will come to push their Polish tradition also in other parts of the world more often... You will find an interview with them in one of the issues later this year.
Next surprise was the Danish duo Haugaard & Høirup. OK I did know before that Morten Alfred Høirup is an excellent guitarist and singer, and that Harald Haugaard is maybe Denmarks finest young fiddler - but that their music as an duo is that breathtaking came unexpected to me. They are without doubt one of the very best folk fiddle/guitar duo in the world - I know only less than a hand full of fiddle/guitar duos of a similar calibre. Their repertoire is mainly traditional Danish - but they do compose as well. You can inform yourself about their music in an article in this issue.
The Danish duo was followed by the Norwegian star fiddler and hardangerfele player Annbjørg Lien playing the other stage at the castle. She was joined by a folk/rock/worldmusic band playing traditional and selfcomposed Scandinavian material with lots of influences of other regions and music styles. I liked her last album Baba Yaga a lot, where a similar line up and repertoire is presented - but somehow for me it did not work very well on stage. Still this is just a personal opinion - there were also several persons taking this concert as personal highlight of the festival.
After Poland, Denmark and Norway it was time again for some more southern European music - so I went to see the young female gaitero (player of the Galician bagpipe) Susana Seivane. This girl from the most north western region in Spain knows very well how to present herself and her music. Susana was born into a dynasty of pipe makers and pipers, and so she started to play the pipes at the unbelievable age of three years. And today only at the beginning of her twenties she has already two decades of piping behind her... You can feel that this girl has grown up with this instrument. She has an excellent young backing band (melodeon, fiddle, percussion, guitar, bouzouki, keyboards), providing the right background for her natural performance. Often the pipe music is that powerfully presented reminding in dynamic and stage performance a bit of (good) rock music - played only acoustically! And also of this young lady FolkWorld will have an interview later this year.
There are also several smaller stages in town, where some lesser known and often more local (meaning: German) bands are invited to play. I managed only to see two of those, and both of them are very much worth a listen.
The first one was 'Gout d'hier', a band of one Belgian and three Germans (one of them living in France) playing instrumental folk dance music from central Europe. The instruments are accordion, guitar/mandolin, fiddle and guitar/bouzouki - their music is very fresh and they provide enough space for each of the musicians to show their individual talent. This is music where you can listen to for hours - but not only listen to also dance to. Gout d'hier also played for dance in the big dance tent, where dancers can dance to music from all over the world for nearly the whole festival weekend.
The other band was DeReelium from Hanover. Their singer Barbara Steinort did not manage to come to this concert, but the five lads provided a good set of mainly traditional Irish material. With a (mainly) acoustic line up (fiddle, concertina, banjo/German pipes, bodhran/bones and guitar/e-bass) they proof that you do not have to be Irish to play highest quality Irish music.
DeReelium played on Sunday; yet I still need to come back to Saturday night. There was the Bollywood Brass band, a mad band from England. It is quite a big band playing mainly Indian music in a breathtaking brass version with a wild performance. The audience was simply blown away by this party music...
And the party went on later that night with another mad band - this time from Germany. 'Lecker Sachen' combine German language Hip Hop and Pop with traditional mostly Irish music. During the day they have already played their fascinating 'unplugged' set together with the Da Gangsta String trio, bringing classical elements into that unusual mixture. Late night they played plugged - and the audience went wild. Lecker Sachen stated at the end of the night that this had been their craziest gig up to now in their three years career. They are unplugged as well as plugged great fun - you will have a big party with them.
Sunday provided again lots of music and fun, leading into the special final concert, starting at 6pm, where the whole "surviving" festival visitors come together to finish the weekend Here many of the festival bands are playing again for a short set - everybody in the large audience always finds at this concert some groups they have not seen at the festival before. And at that point of the festival it is also time to talk of the next one, where the secret of next year's specials are exposed. In 2001 (first weekend of July, as always) the instrument special features the clarinet, the country special are the Lesser Antilles, and there will be a new regional special introduced, starting next year with Bavaria. And as said - it is not only the music that matters, but first of all the unique atmosphere of this festival - and that alone is always worth for visiting the festival.
There is another Review of the Rudolstadt Festival in this issue.
Photo Credit: Photos by The Mollis, all taken at Tanz & Folk Festival Rudolstadt 2000:
(1) impression at the castle, (2) BEV, (3) Kapela ze wsi Warzsawa, (4) Haugaard & Høirup, (5) Susana Seivane
Further infos available at: Hompepage of Rudolstadt town, with a page for the festival
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