Celt n Folk X

Remember that enthusiastic report that Jan van Offeren made for us of his visit to Trolls & Légendes? Well, he also visited CELT-N-FOLK at Poppodium De Meester in Almere, and he was just as enthusiastic in writing about that!
You can read about his first real encounter with Sowulo, about his relived RASTABAN experience and of course his love, Cesair, and how they once again rocked the stage with their musical perfection and their vibrant stage show.
Of course he also speaks of the performances in the smaller room by Tipsy Gipsy (BE) and Robert den Hartigh (NL), and also gives tips for those interested in going to the next edition of this great indoor festival.

Flyer (750p) Who among us dares to claim that indoor theaters are only a pass-time to ease the waiting for the outdoor festival power? Not me any more…certainly not after Carolien and I visited the, to us so far unknown, CELT-N-FOLK in Almere! This might just be the exception(al) to the rule, but at the risk of sounding like a cliché, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is a beautifully set up indoor festival, easily reachable and with loads of parking space, I’ll advise you to park in the nearby parking garage, cheap and safe!

The entrée fee was, especially in pre-sale, a nice and friendly €7, €10 at the door, for which one got to see and hear a lot of beauty! We were very much on time, partly because of an early departure, and partly because of the ease at parking. The doors opened on time by a friendly yet stern security guard. Just to be safe I had decided to wear my every day clothes and after my experience at Trolls et Légendes I had left my arms and armour at home. Carolien was allowed to bring in her (large) purse, even though it did have to get checked first.

The first room we entered was upstairs. It wasn’t overly large but decorated completely in Folk-style, immediately feeling very familiar. Drinks could be purchased with coins that could be bought from a machine. These could not be changed back for money at the end of the evening, which could be an inconvenience to all but regular visitors, as they would be able to use them on any other night. The music here that played between and after the performances was good and certainly adapted to the event, to give some examples: Irfan, Faun and Stellamara.

photo by Kees Stravers

photo by Kees Stravers

Sowulo were the first to perform and gave a beautiful show, preceded by a gorgeous ritual. We had never seen them perform even though, at the advice of the “well informed” we had bought their music at the Gothic & Fantasy Beurs in Rijswijk. Their music, mainly instrumental, is very appealing! The live performance was very good, though just like with the other bands the transition from music into “the talk after the show” would leave us shaking from the bass, if just for a moment. But I’ll say that Sowulo is a great addition to our “knowledge bank of bands” with their mainly very calm music.

photo by Don Bakhuizen

photo by Don Bakhuizen

photo by Karin Den Hartigh Zegers

photo by Karin Den Hartigh Zegers

During the breaks, because of the resetting of the main stage, one could enjoy performances by Tipsy Gipsy (BE) and Robert den Hartigh (NL) in the smaller room, which was certainly worth it. These will one day certainly outgrow these smaller rooms. Though I could not listen to everything completely due to circumstances, what the hammer and anvil in my ears did pick up certainly was a well-forged sound!

photo by Kees Stravers

photo by Kees Stravers

The second act of the evening was RASTABAN. Just like during the previously mentioned Trolls & Légendes, where I saw them a first time, a very complete show where, despite the fact that this was an away game for the mainly Belgian band, they spoiled the crowd and really gave them lots of joy! I’m already anxiously awaiting there next CD, even though we only purchased our first one this evening! So RASTABAN, we will keep a close eye on you!

photo by Kees Stravers

photo by Kees Stravers

As last act for this evening Cesair was to turn off the lights but, and I suspect some degree of chauvinism in this, before the lights went off (or on, actually) they did manage to energise the crowd even though they had been tired after a long night of Folk, and the audience spontaneously joined in all forms of joy and happiness. With their beautiful sounds, singing and show, and their joyful appearance, they brought the audience into motion and ecstasy, and they were rewarded (like the other artists) after an even more enthusiastically played encore with a long and amazing applause.

Whomever says that Pagan Folk isn’t much, I’ll certainly disagree with them, especially after an evening like this, with 3 bands of this calibre, and some great up and coming artists. I would recommend anyone to get to know this great music, and a world where one keeps meeting beautiful and happy people!

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to see you at a next festival, where we can just be ourselves and can be amazed that joy can be experienced in such a versatile way.

– Jan van Offeren


Kees Stravers

Don Bakhuizen

From Russia with Reels – Frauke

This week we once again added new music to the stream. Some albums we acquired at the Midwinter Fair, which is within cycling distance from Alex’s home, but others had to come from lands far beyond our horizon, travelling from hand to hand through what we refer to as our Community.

Here’s the story of how the wonderful music of Random Reel reached our shores.

Once upon a time in Mother Russia.

Random Reel Not so long ago I randomly offered my services to Alex. As a big folk music fan, I didn’t mind helping out a bit, but as a German-Russian interpreter to be I didn’t expect I could really be of use.

Strangely enough Alex contacted me a while later asking me for a favour. He wanted me to contact “this Russian band they had found out about”, but could only contact through VK, which is the Russian version of Facebook.

I then translated the mail CeltCast wanted to send and I quickly got an answer from Random Reel’s bagpipe player. They were eager to accept our offer and share their music with CeltCast. They even invited me to their gig in Kazan!

Oh, I forgot to mention my university shipped me off to Moscow for several months. 🙂

Frozen Wolga I was keen on some travelling so I asked a few of my colleagues to join me on the trip I was planning. That’s how we ended up taking the night train to capital of Tatarstan, a 13-hour ride through Russia’s middle of nowhere. The beds in the train were very decent, and if it wasn’t for the tropical 33°C and the snoring Russian woman I probably would’ve gotten some sleep! I slept for three hours in the morning and woke up to see some beautiful landscapes outside. We even crossed the completely frozen Wolga and saw some minuscule dots which appeared to be people fishing in the ice.

Poster Kazan is a very beautiful city. Probably not the first one you’ll think of when visiting Russia, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Compared to the other city’s I visited, this one was much more quiet and peaceful. But we were here for a show, let’s not forget that! On Saturday, the 6th of December, Random Reel celebrated its 3rd birthday. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by violin player Elvira and introduced to some people. As the first band, D’Green, hadn’t arrived yet, so we could sit down and have a drink.

The show itself was a blast! It had been a long time since I saw so much atmosphere at a concert. Random Reel has many members and they all look so different, but in the end they fit together perfectly on stage and share a passion for traditional Irish folk. The sound was pretty decent for the many instruments they had. I could clearly hear everyone except for the percussionist and the flute player, but the reason for this might be that I was standing left of the stage and not directly in front of it. But how could I when most of the room was occupied by people dancing and having fun?! I am more of a quiet listener, but nevertheless I enjoyed the sight of this.

Random Reel on stage Random Reel, clearly enjoying their set, played their own version of the usual traditional Irish songs, so that I could sing along even though I’d never seen or heard them before. But they also played some traditional songs with Russian lyrics and they even did a folkish cover of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’! Of course they also have songs of their own, especially ‘Towards the Sun’ is a song that’s still occasionally stuck in my head.

After the show we talked some more with the violin player and I received their EP ‘Roots & Leaves’. I was secretly very happy I had to wait before sending the CD to CeltCast until I was back in Belgium. That way I could first enjoy the CD myself! We then also met singer and guitar player Timur, who was very fluent in English as you can hear on their CD. Afterwards we were invited to the after party by bagpipe player Ivan, with whom I had had contact before travelling to Kazan. They offered us a ride, but since my colleagues weren’t sure about it yet, they even looked up a taxi for us! In the end my colleagues were too tired and I went back with them to the hostel…

I quickly got this gnawing feeling of regret, but lucky as I always am Ivan texted me the address of the after party and after a short cab ride, I was sitting in a Russian apartment along with the talented Russian musicians of D’Green and Random Reel. Russian people, Russian hospitality, Russian food and… well, Irish music! It didn’t take the musicians long to pick up their instruments again and start a random jam session in the kitchen. If it wasn’t for the early plain we had to catch, I would’ve stayed there all night to enjoy the music. After the goodbyes and many hugs it was time for me to go to sleep.

This is an experience I won’t easily forget. I went to Kazan for CeltCast but was presented an entertaining show with talented, passionate musicians and a dancing crowd that occasionally went totally wild. This was the story of how I got to meet the friendly, hospitable and very grateful members of Random Reel and how I came to the conclusion that even in Tatarstan, they make pretty damn good Irish music!

– Frauke

Random Reel - The band Random Reel is:

Timur Milyukov – Vocals, Guitar
Ivan Churkin – Bagpipes, Tin whistle
Elya Feytsekh – Violin
Artur Karimov – Bass
Nikolay Perminov – Percussion
Andrey Kazancev – Drums

Highlights of 2014 and a glimpse of 2015

Bridge - Philip (750p, crop)
We have another new addition to our CeltCast team! Starting today Philip Xander, formerly of Omnia and now of course of L.E.A.F., will occasionally contribute reports and reviews for your reading entertainment.

And to start things off nicely, his first text is a report of his musical year 2014, that reviews several albums that were released in 2014, and a look ahead to what 2015 will bring.

Hi folks,

2014 was a great year for music (okay, every year is, if you know where to point your ears – but still). There were, of course, high-profile Pagan Folk releases like Faun‘s ‘Luna’ and Omnia‘s ‘Earth Warrior’, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll also have heard Pink Floyd releasing The Endless River, their first album in 20 years, or golden boy Leonard Cohen‘s ‘Popular Problems’. But this year was also witness to some promising up-and-coming bands and début releases; in this post I’ll list some lesser-known CD’s I simply could not stop listening to, as well as share with you some of the albums I’ll be looking forward to in 2015.

Trolska Polska – Moss
Drawing inspiration from Nordic traditional music and lore (every piece is named after a characteristic type of troll), they manoeuvre effortlessly between subtle and meandering melodies, plodding, unbalanced chaos and energetic bounciness. Without a doubt my favourite CD of 2014.

Zirp – Drehvolution
Stephan Groth and his hurdy gurdy have the lead in this eclectic and madly danceable band, taking the instrument to a whole new level of skill and style. Awesome.

Dreamer’s Circus – A Little Symphony
The trio is deeply rooted in Scandinavian folk, but the classical influences lend a somewhat confusing but definitely fresh quality to their traditional timbres. Their album features the Danish String Quartet as well as a full brass band and bansuri player Rishab Prasanna. They also played a series of concerts with the Copenhagen Phil orchestra in 2011 – see video. Not for the musically faint of heart…

Jyoti Verhoeff – Riven: Full Moon/Dark Moon
Last year saw the release of this rather ambitious project, a double-album revolving around the music of Jyoti Verhoeff and Maya Fridman. After a very promising EP, ‘Phoenix’, the duo turned to crowd-funding to realise their follow-up. Stylistically they land somewhere between singer-songwriter, neo-classical and the soundtrack to a fantasy movie – but really, neither of those labels do it justice. You’ll just to have to listen.

Honourable mention:
Dazkarieh – Eterno Retorno. Or Incógnita Alquimia, my personal favourite. Or another album entirely.
A bitter one, this, as the Portuguese band announced last year that Eterno Retorno will be their last release, and that their 2014 tour will mark the end of the band. They have been active in different line-ups for 15 years, and their music has seen traditional, neo-folk, metal, post-rock and pop-music influences come and go. This is one of those bands where you’ll have to sample small portions of their work from different eras to see if it’s to your liking (and for the diligent internet-user, there are plenty of side-projects to discover). Rest in peace, Dazkarieh.

And which bands will I be keeping my eyes on in 2015?

Kaunan is a Nordic folk trio (featuring Oli of Faun) who made their first public appearance on the Midwinterfair Archeon in December of 2014. They played a most delightful set of tunes on hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa and bouzouki, and I sincerely hope 2015 will see them releasing their debut-album.

Kaunan (Facebook video)

Euzen is perhaps the band you’d least expect to see on a list of neo-folk bands, but yours truly is a shameless fan of their progressive rhythms, psychedelic breaks and haunting vocals. Their new album, Metamorph, is scheduled to be released on January 20th 2015, and if their previous releases are any indication this could turn out to be my most-played album of the coming year.

Xícara is a Portuguese band combining traditional styles and instruments with modern fusion. They weave a mesh of trance-like ostinatos around unexpected rhythms while just as easily transitioning into piano-based grooviness and full-out up-tempo climaxes, all coated in lyrics of some of Portugal’s finest poets. The band has been active for years, but have yet to release an album. Let’s hope 2015 is the year.
Update: Xícara have just announced their first full-length album, to be released in March of this year. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

Bonus tip:
Maya Fridman
You might know her as cellist for the above-mentioned Jyoti Verhoeff, but this year will see the release of this gifted musician’s solo-project. She will record pieces by composers Schnittke, Pärt and Vasks, and if you hurry, you might be in time to support her crowd-funding project.

So there ya have it. If you found something you like, check out the links below for albums, tour dates and whatnot. Got tips of your own? Let me know. Have a musical year!



Maya & Roger Spees – Kees

20141228-002 Maya & Roger
Another report from Kees! 🙂
Yesterday he returned to Maya Fridman to attend a truly Magical Winter Concert with Roger Spees, Intuitive Pianist and, of course, Maya on cello. Read all about how Maya and Roger even got the ‘photographer of the stars’ to lay down his camera and sit back and enjoy their music!
It’s not the music you have come to expect from CeltCast, but this performance was done using a very interesting concept, so we nevertheless really wanted to share this report with you.
-Sunday the 28th of December 2014, Werkhoven.

Today I had a wonderful relaxed day. I had a day off, so that helped, but for the most part it was because yesterday I went to the “Magical Winter Concert” by intuitive pianist Roger Spees with Maya Fridman on her cello. Roger Spees has titled himself ‘intuitive pianist’ because he improvises the music he plays based on the mood and feelings he senses from his audience. This results in soothing and relaxing music ideally suited to let your thoughts float away on.

For this concert he was joined by Maya Fridman who really was tuned in to his frequency so to speak, they really added to the others music. Roger would start a strand of music that Maya would pick up on her cello, or the other way around.

Also, next to his piano Roger had a number of small percussion type instruments he could make all kinds of interesting sounds with to add to the music, soundscaping a walk in the forest, an afternoon at the beach, or a rainy day at home.

The venue was the chapel of the Samaya Conference Centre, which used to be a monastery. It was well suited for this event, located in a quiet spot out in between the farmers fields, specially quiet now that it had snowed a lot and everything was white as far as the eye could see. They had provided mats you could lay down on if you wanted to meditate on the music and they were filled to capacity. The afternoon was opened by a nice lady (I quite forgot her name) who started with a light meditation which seamlessly went over to the first melody.

These two photos were about all I made, for the rest of the concert I just sat back and enjoyed the music. I had seen another photographer busying about so I thought, that’s covered, I’m putting the camera away. It was a wonderful afternoon and if this event ever is organized again, I’ll be sure to visit!

– Kees

20141228-001 Maya & Roger

Winter has come – Arjan

MWF omslag A cold but beautiful winter-morning. With sunglasses on and singing along loudly to some great folk sounds playing on the car stereo I’m on my way to one of the last large events of the year, the Midwinter Fair at Archeon in Alphen aan de Rijn in the Netherlands. I can’t wait to see my folk-family again, to feel that feeling of home that is so different from all other “homes” yet always feels so familiar.

Archeon is an open air history museum covering roughly the time period from the stone age up to medieval times. Its collection of buildings, from bronze age farms through a Roman bath house and inn, all the way to a medieval cloister, provide such a great backdrop for this festival that you can just imagine yourself actually being transported back to these earlier times.

Upon arrival the first thing that you notice, apart from the very friendly staff, is the wonderful smell of wood-fires burning everywhere. It is after all a Midwinter Fair, so some added heat is required. Every few hundred meters there is a fire burning, with extra wood supplied, so that if you want you can build the fire a bit higher to warm up. This combined with so many happy people, many of which are clad in stunning costumes, makes the cold air fade to the background and warms the heart.

Picture by Kees Stravers

Picture by Kees Stravers

Right at the entrance we were greeted by the musicians of Datura. Welcome home! After a quick chat it was off to our first performance indoors for the day, Sowulo in the cloister. As we have come to expect from this band this was a heart-warming and soothing performance, with their spiritually inspired sounds blending perfectly with the smell of incense and a candle lit room. Ok, I know there was electric lighting as well, but the were candles and I’m trying to convey a feeling here, give me a break


Picture by Kees Stravers

Picture by Kees Stravers

After this performance there was a little bit of time to walk around to sniff the atmosphere and get some quick lunch, after which it was time to get back to that same cloister for a show by Einar Selvik, best known for being the man behind the formation of Wardruna. During the show the emphasis is not so much on the music itself, but heavily on the stories and the lore behind the instruments and the poetry. Einar performs with a passion for the music, and he certainly succeeds in conveying that passion onto the audience. I’ve been looking and thinking hard to find the correct words to describe the performance. Moving, touching, emotional, these come close but don’t do it much justice. Best way to describe it is: Do yourself a favour and go to one (or many) of his performances!

Picture by Kees Stravers

Picture by Kees Stravers

The stage was quickly converted for the next sound-check and performance. Kaunan is a new formation, these were their first performances, but with very experienced musicians. It’s a new side project by Oliver s. Tyr from FAUN, playing Nordic Folk in somewhat of a more old school style than his more modern musical endeavours. Great music to sit and listen to, but also to dance to! As they are so new they do not yet have any music recorded, but as soon as they have an album you can be sure we will add it to our play-list!

Picture by Kees Stravers

Picture by Kees Stravers

After this we walked around for a bit and as so often happens we met so many old and new friends that we missed a lot of performances. Unfortunately we can’t be in more than one or two places at a time. The evening then turned to a more personal note as we attended a beautiful handfasting. Well, I, Arjan, attended, as Alex was actually the one getting handfasted. 😉

And then the first festival day ended with a smashing show by The Dolmen at the Roman inn. Hard hitting pagan rockers from Britain, these guys, and girl of course, always know how to make a party! They almost blew the roof with their great music and experienced showmanship!


The second day started surprisingly similar to the first one, all be it rather late after an impressive Saturday, we overslept, we’re only human 😉 Sowulo is a band we can easily visit twice in one weekend, so that was our chosen method of waking up. Besides being great musicians they are also just amazing people and good friends, so a nice chat ended up in us stepping across the threshold for the next performance just as they played their last note. But the guys and girl of Pyrolysis were nice people too, so we agreed that they would give us a little heads up right before their next, and final, performance of the day so that we could see them live.

Picture by Kees Stravers

Picture by Kees Stravers

Quick lunchtime again and then back to the cloister for L.E.A.F.. Their show on the previous day at the Roman inn had been plagued by technical difficulties, resulting in a short performance. Not so on this Sunday. No matter how often you see these amazing musicians perform, their desire to reach perfection shows every time, and it’s always a joy to experience. Surprising to me, yet very fitting, were their renditions of songs by Trolska Polska and Virelai. A feast for the ears! Somehow, organically, the room divided itself. People were sitting and listening right in front of the stage, where left from the stage a sort of dance area formed. To the right there was room for those who came in a bit too late to sit down to stand, and so everyone could get the full effect of the show that they wanted!

With only a short thirty minutes before the next performance, again in the cloister, we raced out to do some shopping, because let’s face it, how can you go to a fair and not buy something like for instance some great mead for back home? We made it back just in time for the start of this day’s performance by Kaunan. Oliver s. Tyr (DE), Göran Hallmarken (SE) and Boris Koller (AUT) used their self-described “archaic” instruments to create an atmosphere that completely fitted the theme of the fair for this year, Vikings. With eyes closed the cloister almost turned into a longhouse and I would definitely love to see an extended show of this great new group!

Picture by Don Bakhuizen

Picture by Don Bakhuizen

Right after this performance we received the heads up I mentioned earlier, that Pyrolysis was about to start their final show, so it was off to the Roman bath house which by this time was filled with candles. Originally formed in 2010 as a folk-punk band these four guys and one girl play a very good acoustic set and we had loads of fun listening to them. It was extremely hard to keep myself from moving along to the music while I was trying to record some video. Work of their own, and well known traditionals, it was just pure fun being there!

A race back to, yet again, the cloister, because Einar Selvik was playing again. And judging by the crowd, many people had heard of his amazing performance the day before, because the cloister was pretty much full. The performance itself was just as moving as it was on Saturday, but being able to share that with such a large group of people was amazing. The emotions that Einar placed in his music and his singing reverberated through the entire crowd and probably also back to him, as this was fast becoming one of the most touching shows ever. After it was over, which was way too soon, there was a well-deserved standing ovation, and there were many people, including the both of us, left in tears from the massive emotional roller-coaster. Thank you Einar, thank you so very much for this experience!

20141207-001 Campfire Coming down from this emotional high we unfortunately missed the closing act of the fair, Rapalje. A shame, because these guys know how to make a party! Fortunately the CeltCast family extends beyond just the two of us, so I’m glad to report that the Roman inn was packed full from front to back, with everybody dancing and moving along to the music. With candles on all the tables and that typical Rapalje madness it certainly was a party!

This is however somewhat of a continuous thread through the Midwinter Fair, albeit a positive one. There is so much to be seen, in so little time, that you are bound to miss some great shows and events. And that’s just the music! How about the many stands selling all sorts of lovely things, the story tellers, the costumes, the Kid’s Quest, the LARP’ers, the wedding chapel, just too much to talk about without this report turning into a book 😉 I guess in the end there’s just one more thing to say. It has been an amazing weekend, and we are already looking forward to next year’s Midwinter Fair!

– Arjan

Pictures courtesy of:

Kees Stravers

Don Bakhuizen

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