Saturday, July 07, 2007

Latvians Rock!

The every-five-years (pentannual?) Latvian Song and Dance Festival is in Indianapolis this weekend. The Artsgarden hosted one of the music stages Thursday and today, and I really enjoyed the performances. The music was good, the organizers were organized, and the people were all great to work with. I was impressed; usually when you get 60 performers together, you end up with a few jerks. But everything went off without a hitch, and the performances were fun to watch. I need to reiterate here: 60 performers, all of whom were good to work with, all of whom were good at what they did. This is a rarity -- and I'm happy and grateful for the chance to work with them.

All of the singing was in Latvian. It sounded pleasant, but I had no idea what any of the songs were about. Sometimes, it's more fun listening to music when you can't understand any of the words; it's all about music, not content. This doesn't stop my brain from occasionally overlaying English lyrics over the Latvian music, though, especially if the group introduces the song and tells us what it's about ("this next song is about a man who has some very fine horses, and can't decide whether to take his girlfriends for a ride, or his sisters; he decides to take his girlfriends, because he might get more out of it").

The performers all wore traditional Latvian clothing. Some of it's pretty cool, and a lot of the men's clothing could almost pass for street wear. I don't think I'm nearly cool enough to wear any of it myself; I look dorky enough just in khaki shorts and a t-shirt, and the dork factor of ethnic clothing would push me into the people-pointing-and-laughing category. And, I keep forgetting that "traditional" isn't the same as "old-fashioned", so it tends to strike me as odd when I see some traditional Latvian dress with cell phones clipped to the belts.....


Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

My name's Aleks - I was one of the Latvian performers with Denveras Jurmalnieki (the three guys and the girl). I'm the guy with the fiddle and beard. Just wanted to say thanks for your work. You were really on top of things and made us sound great! A lot of times we have to deal with sound people that have no clue about folk music or just don't care because it's not "their" thing. But you were excellent.

Again, many thanks!


Jeff Mountjoy said...

Hey, Aleks -- we remember your performance, and we really enjoyed it! Again, I was highly impressed with all of the performers and music. You were great to work with; let the rest of Jurmalnieki know that we enjoyed the show!

I passed your compliments on to Chris, the guy at the sound board. He said to tell you how much he enjoyed your performance!