FolkWorld Live Review 04/2001: Tilburg festival review No. 2

The snows of France and Holland...

Thoughts about a very snowy weekend at Tilburg International Folk Festival...

By Tom Keller

Piper statue in Tilburg; photo by Tom Keller The historical Duchy of Brabant lies in the heart of the European Union. At the Westphalian Treaty which concluded the Thirty Years War in 1648 (actually just a few hundred metres from where I pen this lines now), the Duchy lost its northern estates to the Republic of the Netherlands. These estates are now called the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, which includes the industrial town of Tilburg. There seems only few reasons to pay a visit, especially in January when the cold winds from the North Sea hit the country. But now the International Folk Festival Tilburg offers a fine opportunity to bridge the quiet before the festival season is taking off. Another traveller knew it before: "There's sounds to hear and sounds to fear and sights to make you sing ..."

The featured country is Portugal (see also the other review in this issue), the featured instrument is the bagpipe. In fact, the Dutch Pipes & Drums had been founded in 1953. (Tilburg was freed by the 15th Scottish Division in 1944). Other pipe bands include Ogham, Danu, Xose Manuel Budino, and Hevia with his electronic gaita (which reminds me of my vacuum cleaner, yet the sound is better), and the Hungarian Hurdy Gurdy & Bagpipe Orchestra.

Friday night in the Theatre Schouwburg: "PL@T" is a showcase of music, song, comedy and poetry from Brabant. Pater Moeskroen; photo by Tom Keller Folk rockers Pater Moeskroen get young and old up to their feet. The Pater's Dutch smash hit from 1996, "Laat Maar Waaien" (which is the Pogues' "Streams of Whiskey") finishes a delightful celebration of the Flemish arts.

"The Celtic Connection" is continued (on saturday) with Danu and Breton harp legend Alan Stivell, who found "Back to Breizh", as is the title of his latest album. The English traditon is represented by Wood-Wilson-Carthy. "New Folk Adventure" brings the tradition into the new millennium. Troissoeur are singing backwards (I wouldn't understand Flemish anyway...). The "Batcave" offers a pleasant chill-out area and sessions by local musicians.

Hundred years ago, Tilburg was the "Wolstad" (wool town), the centre of the Dutch textile industry. Cadans der Getouwen; photo by The Mollis Bouzouki player Guy Roelofs revived the old songs of the spinners and weavers in a Celtic-like idiom and gathered a Dutch and Belgian All-Star-Band, Cadans der Getouwen, featuring singers Gerard van Maasakkers and Anja van Reeth, flutist Jenny van Diggelen, and fiddler Wouter Vandenabeele of Ambrozijn fame.

Too early we are homeward bound. But meanwhile the country is covered with snow and ice and we have to crawl across the motorway heading for the River Rhine. What I couldn't believe then, but Brian McNeill was right when he wrote:

Oh, the North wind knows no border,
As it shifts across the shore.
The road finds only other roads,
And the dark hides even more;
Hevia; photo by The Mollis For there's many a weary corner
From Flanders to the Rhine,
And the snows of France and Holland
Have parted me and mine.

There's sounds to hear and sounds to fear
And sights to make you sing,
And the bonniest in the morning
Is the snow goose on the wing,
For her neck is long and slender,
Her road's a simple line,
And the snows of France and Holland
Have parted me and mine.

There are two more reviews of Tilburg International Folk Festival in this issue. Review 1; Review 3

Further infos available at: the Tilburg festival homepage; review of Tilburg festival 2000.

Photo Credit: (1 + 2) by Tom Keller; (2 + 3) by The Mollis
(1) piper statue in Tilburg; (2) Pater Moeskroen; (3) Guy Roelofs and Wouter Vandenabeele of Cadans der Getouwen; (4) Hevia

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 4/2001

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