Did you say “Balkan”?

I think it’s a couple of years now (wait… even more!), that I am totally into balkan music. Balkan what exactly? Well, I understand that if you’re not familiar it can sound like weird. But I assure you it’s not.
It all started when I was a kid being brought on holidays in the south of Italy, where my mum is actually from, and we spent quite few nights out listening to live music, a folk and popular kind of music. If you don’t know what I am talking about at all, check this nice wikipedia article about “pizzica” and also check this video out.
The legend said that this music was used as a remedy for the what called “tarantism“: in the south of Italy they believed that the bite of a kind of wolf spider called “tarantola” led some women to convulsive hysteria status.
Traditions are still pretty strong in the south of Italy and this is why every year in August there is a music festival called “La notte della Taranta“, which is pretty much sold out and it has around 120.000 visitors.

So yes, I grew up surrounded by traditions and weird believes, but I really enjoyed it. The thing about this kind of folk music is that every time that I listen to it i feel like i have to dance. I have to stand up and let my body move.
Which is what happened to me with Balkan music.
Back in Italy, at some point they started to have more nights like these, more festivals during the summer and it might be because my hometown has a lot of european influences or also because Trieste is basically on the border with Slovenia.
Anyway every summer there is this festival that wants to commemorate another big festival that takes place in Serbia and it’s called Guča trumpet festival. Every year, according to wikipedia, the little town of Guča gets something like 600.000 visitors. If you think about it, it’s insane. Some of my friends that have been there said that you go to bed with the sound of trumpets and you wake up the same way.
As you can imagine, I have of course thought about going. Didn’t had the chance yet but let’s say I will work on it.
Since moving to London, following the balkan beat is being difficult. It might have been because London is that big that maybe at the beginning I wasn’t sure where exactly to go or because I didn’t really had time, but I managed to be at the O2 Academy Brixton in December when Gogol Bordello played. They’re a gypsy punk band but I really loved them. On that occasion I asked my housemate to come with me and she, surprisingly, really enjoyed it (yes, I do remember all the effort to bring my italian friends to some balkan nights: mission impossible).
And then recently, surprise! A london based band called Op Sa! Balkan Band played at the Royal Albert in New Cross. How lucky is that? I really enjoyed it and you should check the live music events at the Royal Albert because there are some interesting things going on.
All of this to say: you never know what you might like in life and sometimes you’ll find out that you quite enjoy things that you wouldn’t expect at all.
Stay tuned.

G.

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4 thoughts on “Did you say “Balkan”?

  1. I think I’ve got some more tips for you in London, have to check Facebook. I’m from Amsterdam and miss the Balkan (and Gipsy!) parties from about 10 years ago, so since half a year I started organising them myself. Keep an wye on my blog, I’m planning to bring some promising bands to Amsterdam and will dedicate some posts to them.

      1. Yes, BIG plans which I don’t want to post online yet, I could tell you in a private message (on Facebook?). I’d like to keep in touch with you any how, every once in a while I’m in London for work.

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