My FaerieCon Weekend – Miles

Old friend of the Folk scene, and of CeltCast, Miles Batty went to Faeriecon East last weekend and wrote a great review, for us to share with you! Would you also like to be an occasional contributor? Write a concert, festival or album review and we might just publish it! ­čśÇ

– Tuesday the 11th of November 2014, Oregon.

Brief obligatory introduction:
I’m Miles, an occasional contributor to CeltCast – Community Radio, and I’d promised Alex, station co-founder, a review of FaerieCon and the concerts. So here you are!

FaerieCon In March of this year, 2014. I learned that Omnia was coming to FaerieCon East, a fantasy-themed convention on the east coast. I looked at our projected bank balance, then quickly ignored it. “It’s Omnia,” I told my girlfriend, “and Faun. And Woodland. And SJ Tucker. At the same event. We’re going!” And plans were made.

Red Dragon We arrived at the hotel at about noon on Friday, and I saw a few familiar faces, gave and received hugs, and checked into the room. Quick costume change, and off to join the burgeoning madness. I was carrying my red dragon arm puppet, who goes by the name of “N’Aflawen Ddraig Goch ap Machynlleth.” (If you’ve been studying your Welsh, you’ll know that that translates to “The Fierce Red Dragon from Machynlleth” – a real town, where I spent my childhood years.)

Fur The convention itself was remarkable. SO much talent! Costumes you’d only dream of, and spirits and enthusiasm and verve enough to make anyone believe in magic. Within an hour, I felt as if I was in a world of fantasy, and I was in love with every part of it. During the next three days, I took, or had taken, dozens of pictures. I must give credit to my friend Jeremy Durant, who took far better pictures of the concerts than I ever could. He’s the above fellow with the big horns, seemingly startled by a small dragon.

Fae We wandered about the hotel, visited the merchant’s halls, met more people, and waited with delighted anticipation for the first of three concerts of the weekend, SJ Tucker, opening for Faun.

Sooj SJ Tucker, if you don’t know her, is an American musician with an *unbelievable* voice. SJ, also known as “Sooj”, is friendly, articulate, talented beyond human reckoning, and a delight to listen to. You can experience her for yourself by going to her website. To give you an idea of her musical skill, go to the albums page and click on the Sirens album, and play the song Carousel. She throws herself effortlessly off a musical precipice and never loses her way. That was recorded in 2006. She’s even better now.

Sooj, along with her cellist Betsy Tinney and percussionist Ken Crampton, entertained for the better part of an hour, taking her audience through a mystical wonderland of magic, delight, whimsy, thunderstorms and alligators.

FAUN I Then after a brief intermission, FAUN took to the stage. Fog machines spilled clouds into the room and coloured lights and banners fluttered, turning the room into an enchanted landscape.

The crowd was very soon dancing to music that…. well, it’s Faun, you know their music. If you don’t, shame on you. Beautiful, ethereal, mystical, mediaeval, enchanting…. I joined in the dance, my feet often leaving the ground and my heartbeat at one with the captivating sound that carried us all away. Cello, lute, bhodran and hurdy gurdy and drums and voices and bells kept the magic alive for much of the evening.

FAUN II I was not alone in noticing that the crowd of 1200 people dancing to their music was making the light rig shake overhead, and the floor was bouncing, literally, beneath our feet. At one point I spun around and lost my balance, and crashed into some fellow who was likewise enjoying the music. I glanced up and apologized to the fellow I’d almost knocked over… Steve, from Omnia. “S’alright, mate,” he said easily, “It’s Faun.” What a way to meet the man for the first time!

It was close to midnight when Faun completed their third encore, and finally departed the stage. I joined the crowd spilling out of the ballroom, still lost in the enchantment of their music and not yet willing to return to the real world. But of course it was FaerieCon, the ‘real’ world was very far away. N’Aflawen and I called it a night by one o’clock, and I found my way to a soft world of orphic chorus.

Miles On Saturday morning I dressed in my satyr attire, with horns, ears, hooves and tail. I made my way to the merchants hall, where one table offered face painting. I became even more transformed into a satyr, and set about enjoying the day.

The doors to the Woodland and Omnia show were set to open at 8, and the line started forming at 6:30. By 7:45, the line snaked from the ballroom foyer, past the restaurant, through the lobby, and half a mile down the guest room hallways. So many people!! So many stunning costumes! More than once, as I walked the line meeting people, I heard voices musically lamenting their inability to speak human…

The doors opened at 8:15, and the crowd surged into the ballroom. Most of us, myself included, had never seen Woodland or Omnia perform live before, and we knew we were in for a very special evening. Sadly, we exceeded the room’s legal capacity, and the Fire Marshal order that nobody else be allowed in. So if you were one of the poor folk who left the ballroom to use the bathroom and found yourself unable to re-enter, that’s why.

Woodland Woodland took the stage at about 8:30, and gave the audience a wonderful taste of their talent and music. Primarily acoustic, with guitar, lute, cello, didgeridoo and drums, they wove a sonic veil of enchantment and mystery throughout the ballroom. Emilio and Kelly headline a wonderfully skilled, diverse musical band, well worth your time.

Omnia - Steve At 9:30, the lights dimmed again and the crowd became restless, knowing what was to follow. Omnia took to the stage soon after, and took the enthusiasm of the crowd to even higher levels. If you’ve heard that the band is ‘animated’, you’ve been misinformed. They are so much more than that. Steve and Jenny and Daphyd and new guitarist Satrya danced and cavorted and played and spun with such enthusiasm, I think poor Rob was the only one in the entire whole hotel still sitting down, and that only because he had to play his drums.

Omnia - Stenny Daphyd’s sliding didgeridoo often extended eight-ish feet over the crowd, or else swung wildly over Steve’s head as they cavorted and capered back and forth upon the stage, his booming bass a counterpoint to Steve’s unstoppable pennywhistle. Jenny danced between harp and bodhran and keyboard, like a beautiful sprite in love with the whole world. The music flowed, Omnia and their fans danced and sang, the ballroom itself was alive with the music… there was not a soul unchanged. Omnia’s music does that to people. During the performance of “We don’t speak human”, hearing a thousand people shout at the evils of industry and greed, is a magic to behold.

Omnia played until nearly midnight, returning for three encores. During the final song, Morrigan, Daphyd split his lip on the didgeridoo but continued to play, his mouth bloodied but his spirit unfettered.

Steve - Miles After the concert, still afloat on the wave of music, I chatted with friends awhile, then made my way to the bar to see if I could talk briefly with the band on behalf of CeltCast. I had my phone with me, of course, and tried to record a brief interview with Daphyd and Rob. (Daphyd’s lip was fine by then, and he was laughing about it.) Sadly the recording on my phone was a garbled mess of bar chatter, so no recorded interview. Sorry Alex!! For the record, Rob did say he thought the audience was dynamite, and that he really appreciates having all of the amenities of a hotel in one building. No hiking half a mile to pee. And Daphyd gave a very brief, humorous a capella soundbite for Celtcast, sadly lost in the garble.

I introduced myself to Steve as the man who crashed into him the previous night, and we took a quick selfie. After a day of cavorting and dancing, my facepaint was no longer as clear as it had been hours earlier… I told Steve our picture looked like “a terrorist and a convict”, and he enthusiastically agreed.

Miche├íl - Miles Miche├íl ├ô Laoghaire from Ravengrove Radio recognized me from my days at Wyldwood. “Miles!” he called out. “Good to finally meet you!”

When the bar closed at 2 am, Steve and Jenny invited everyone back to their room to continue the party, myself included. As we made our way through the hotel, Jenny observed with amusement that only Americans call the ground floor of a hotel the ‘first floor’. “The first floor is above the ground floor, don’t they know that? It’s so silly.” Steve turned and spread his arms wide, a grin on his face. “You know who’s silly? Not only Americans. Everyone! All of us mutant monkeys. Humans, such a silly race.”

Up in the hotel room, I chatted with Micheal, Christen Marie and Steve, while Philip and Emilio, and Stephan and Oliver from Faun played an acoustic jam. (Personal note: I *really* like the hurdy gurdy sound. Oh yes.)

Steve commented as we were talking that he and Jenny had both been nursing a fever for a few days now, and he didn’t think the show was as high energy as it could have been. (Are you kidding?! If it was any higher energy they’d have had to replace the roof!)

By about 3 am I was struggling to maintain a vertical position, but the bands were still playing – Micheal says they played until 5 – but I bid farewell, blew Jenny a kiss, and stumbled back to my room.

Woodland Acoustic On Sunday, Woodland played an afternoon acoustic set in the ballroom, again carrying their audience on wings of music and fantasy. I sadly stayed for only half the set, because I had a long drive ahead of me.

Final goodbyes, a host of hugs and farewells and teary eyes, and even more pictures, and we stepped out of the world of Fairie and back into a chilly November day.

What. A. Weekend.

– Miles

The original post can be read at Miles’ blog: “The antlers made me do it
Pictures courtesy of Jeremy Durant

Maya & Hilversumse Orkest Vereniging – Kees

2014-11-09 Kees - Maya (750p)
We all know Maya Fridman from her collaboration with Jyoti Verhoeff´╗┐, and the brilliant concert they gave at Paradiso Amsterdam´╗┐ where their new album Riven was presented. They were accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra Midden Holland´╗┐ and choir, resulting in a really wonderful and magical event. Jyoti and Maya also were finalists in the Grote Prijs van Nederland´╗┐, the longest running pop music competition from The Netherlands aimed at recognizing new talents, where Maya won the prize of Best Musician.

Maya Fridman was born in Moscow and has been playing the cello from a very young age. She was soon recognized as a gifted child and was taken under the wings of the Foundation of Yuri Bashmet´╗┐, a well known conductor and violinist who teaches at the Moscow Conservatory´╗┐. In 2009 Maya graduated from the Schnittke Moscow State College of Music, where she had won many awards and obtained excellent grades during her music school and college years. Since 2010 she studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where she is currently working on her Masters.

Next to her collaboration with Jyoti that we know her from, Maya plays many different kinds of music. She also is a member of the jazz trio DINOSAUR´╗┐, with which she toured Ireland last summer. She will be guest starring at the German folk band FAUN´╗┐’s tour in 2015, and plays with them on six tracks of their new album Luna. She is working on a CD with a sonata by Schnittke, which is written in a unique style, combining serious and light music. But playing classical music is her speciality. By coincidence I found out she would be performing at a concert by the Hilversumse Orkest Vereniging, at the Morgensterkerk in Hilversum, so I just had to go and hear this performance.

The piece to be performed was Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A minor and it was really amazing to hear Maya play it. It is the most complicated piece I ever heard her play. It has very calm and meditative parts but it can suddenly switch to very agitated and back. It has three movements but they are played as one piece without breaks, lasting 22 minutes. It is very intense and Maya had to work very hard, but she pulled it off brilliantly. And she did it all by heart, she was the only one without the sheet music in front of her. The audience rewarded her with a thunderous applause when it was done.

To hear it played with a real orchestra was wonderful, there is no stereo set that can reproduce the sound of the real thing. There were no amplifiers or equipment like that, just a hall that was well made to sound good. The Morgensterkerk is a great location for concerts. And thanks to conductor Paul van der Reijden, the Hilversumse Orkest Vereniging really outdid themselves with this piece supporting Maya.

During the break afterwards I heard from one of the other guests, who knew the concerto very well, that Maya had added some small embellishments to the piece here and there, which made it even more beautiful, and that the conductor had masterfully guided the orchestra along with them.

It was well worth the trip and I hope I can hear Maya play again soon.

Of course I made some photo’s which you can find in this album.

– Kees

Down Under, but on top of the world – Part 1

'The Sisters' at McGinty's
We have received word from Bob, our Scout in Australia!
-Thursday the 9th of October 2014, Cairns.

During a good talk I had with a local musician I found out that there were two Irish pubs in town. One of these was supposedly fake, but the other was the real deal. After finding out which was which, I went to McGinty’s Cairns!

In the afternoon all was quiet, not much going on, but I did manage to sneak a peek on who would be performing that evening. McGinty’s features live performances every Thursday.

Evening came, and around 18:30 a lovely duo called SISTERIX took to the stage. These gorgeous girls came all the way from Dublin. One playing the guitar and the other violin and tambourine, and with both of them singing, they swept the crowd away with their performance of Irish traditionals.

It was a great evening, where I even managed to surprise the owner of the pub by singing along with a lot of the songs!

This is my folk discovery so far, so for all you folk lovers in and around Cairns, McGinty’s is the place to be!
(I will discover more of these great establishments, I’m sure!)

-Bob, Scout


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