by Dan Talmo, co-host, Global Revolutions, WOMEX conference, Budapest, Hungary
Although the next two days of showcases did not achieve the heights of the first night, they did bring plenty of quality acts that I would like to see again.
The most exciting group of the lot was the Buda Folk Band, from Budapest. Searing violins and a sturdy rhythm section made for rousing dance pieces. The single highlight of any one song all week for me was the performance by Soma Salamon on the peasant flute. If WOMEX provides public access to their video recordings, I will certainly share the link. Soma plays in a traditional style that includes vocalized rhythm sounds while playing melodies on the flute. (Bob Queen of the Marquette Neighborhood Association interestingly enough compared the sound to Jethro Tull.) The audience ovation was the loudest at WOMEX for the shows I attended and I can’t imagine a tougher audience. Imagine trying to impress a couple hundred theater programmers and booking agents from around world so they will pick up your band and put them on tour. The Buda Folk Band hit this opportunity out of the park. (Yes, it seems fitting to use a baseball metaphor as the World Series starts this week.) Soma has treated Madison listeners earlier this year when he and Agnes Enyedi performed for an enthusiastic audience last February. That visit also included a fine interview on Terry O’s Diaspora program on WORT.
Muzykanci is a Polish group that I first learned about from our good friend Szymon Wojniczka in Madison who often brings in wide selection of Polish music to Global Revolutions. Muzykanci is fronted by lead singer Johanna Slowinska who is also a fine fiddler. In a nod to our host city, they made an interesting mix of Hungarian traditional instruments, the hurdy gurdy and gardon, for special archaic sounds. Here is nice video of a traditional gardon player with fiddle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXuRrG4wmUo
I was looking forward to seeing Agi Hercku and her band. I have aired several of her recordings on WORT and was looking forward to hearing her live for the first time. She has a beautiful voice that really shines in the slow love songs. The band was tight but the presentation was a little odd in that they all played sitting, some with music stands. Not so typical for folk bands. The lead musician was Nikola Parov, a highly talented musician, but a little brash on stage. He is best known for his world music arrangements for Riverdance.
Another artist of note was sevdah singer Damir Imamovic from Bosnia. It was a treat to see a highly trained male voice lead a folk ensemble. Sevdah is a traditional song form that is characterized by emotional melodies and an overall sense of melancholy, somewhat similar to the Portuguese fado tradition.
Other performances of mention include: A-Wa, a Yemenite Israeli group led by three sisters; Tritha Electric, an India group from Bengal led by Tritha Sinha and presented by Madison’s Ankur Malhotra from Amarrass Records; Canteca de Macao, a Spanish ska-rhumba band that played the Madison World Music Festival in 2012; and Don Flemons, former member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Here is a video link to A-Wa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2M6vt7sXrE
Photos by Paula A. White