Friday, February 27, 2009

Come on you blues

Last weekend Erika and I went for a romantic weekend to Sighisoara, possibly the most romantic city in Romania. (Erika is my wife, by the way, not somebody I was sneaking away with for some kind of illicit rumpy-pumpy, just in case you were about to shop me). We had noticed, quite by chance, on the kind of news ticker thing on Realitatea TV that there was something called the Sighisoara Blues Festival on and so we went to the Internet and looked it up and thought, "Hmm, that might be worth going to" and so put the wheels in motion to do so. My in-laws agreed for the first time ever to take the kids for a night, we reserved tickets for the Saturday night bit of the festival and booked a hotel in the citadel (the old, really romantic bit of the city. Not far from where Vlad the impaler was born, though he moved out when he was young citing the cloyingly nice nature of the place and went to live in the duller and more conducive to large acts of mass murder south of the country.)

I won't bore you with the whole dropping the kids off stuff, or the drive to Sighisoara, but let's just cut to the concert. It was in one of those old communist theatres untouched since it used to host weekly shows of the Young Pioneers doing a synchronised flag waving competition. We were up in the balcony, and the evening kicked off with a "surprise" - a band of kids from Romania. This, I have to say, didn't strike me as a good surprise at first glance, but in fact these kids were amazing. And when I say kids, I use the word advisedly. the guitarist and bass player were 14 and the drummer was....8. Yes, 8. They were incredibly proficient, and what a set of balls, to get up in front of a packed crowd and play so well. I found a clip of the 8 year old on you tube doing his drum solo. It's a drum solo, so you know, not that interesting, but still - he's 8. This is a packed theatre with perhaps 300 people in it? Maybe more?. 8. I may not have stressed this enough. He's 8.

Anyway, when they went off to rapturous applause after a few songs, our next band was the Ana Popovic Group. Ana P (as I like to call her) is a Serbian woman who seems to be based in the US. She and her band were technically proficient, but ultimately not really anything terribly exciting. As the hour wore on, past my normal father-of-young-children bed time, I began looking at my watch and wondering when they'd finish, and whether I'd be able to stay awake to the next band. It's not that Ms P was bad, just that she was just nothing very special. Anyway, here's a clip of her that night:

In the interval, and now that in think about it, quite amazingly coincidentally, we bump into a newly svelte-looking Romerican (and his Julierican - you may have to think about that one). This is miraculous because, to be honest I don't really know that many people in Romania - outside of Harghita County and Targu Mures, I'm guessing it's no more than 50. And I don't know anyone in Sighisoara. Plus Romania is quite a big place, and it's got over 20 million people in it. So to be having a beer in the interval at a smallish concert in a smallish town and suddenly bump into someone you know is fairly remarkable.

So, I'm tired, and wondering when I'll get to bed, and thinking about how old I've become, when on stage at about midnight steps Lucky Peterson, a man about whom I know basically nothing. And he blows the entire place away. He is absolutely incredible. He plays blues, jazz, soul, whatever he feels like. One of these people who just seems to be able to sense what the crowd will be into and to take it in that direction. Absolutely totally and utterly superb. He didn't finish until after 2 and I wished he'd stayed on longer. There are two youtube clips of him here, but they don't really capture how god he was - they are both at the end when he'd invited loads of people on stage as he was the festival's closing act, but really he was better when it was just him and his rhythm section. Still, Lucky Peterson - if he's ever playing a concert near you, go. Just go. (The whole concert will be on TVR Cultural at some point for those living in Romania, but I don't know when as the TVR website is not terribly helpful).


Gadjo Dilo said...

Sounds great, Andy, I wish I'd been there! The only Romanian jazzer I've heard of is Johnny Răducanu, and I've so far failed to ever see his act.

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