European Innovators and Merengue Fire on July 9th at Rainforest World Music Festival

The Shin - Photo by LucyAnne, courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board
Saturday is usually the day that gets larger crowds at the Rainforest World Music Festival and July 9th, 2011, was no exception. The Sunset Concert at the Dewan Lagenda brought back the local flavor of the Masters of Sape.

The first act on the main stage was one of the most impressive acts included in the festival. The Shin, from the Republic of Georgia, played a spectacular set of Georgian music combined with variety of global sounds, including flamenco and jazz.

All the musicians of The Shin on stage were highly skilled. Zaza Miminoshvili (Georgia) on guitar; Zurab Gagnidze (Georgia) on bass and vocal; Mamuka Gaganidze (Georgia) on vocal and percussion; Jakub Mietle (Poland) on accordion; Theodosii Spassov (Bulgaria) on kaval; and Aleksandre Chumburidze (Georgia) on percussion and dance. “We grew up behind the Soviet Iron Curtain & no outside music was allowed,” said the band during the press conference. “But music cuts through all iron curtains!

Pacific Curls - Photo by LucyAnne, courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board
I was specially struck by Theodosii Spassov’s outstanding kaval playing. The performance featured eye catching Georgian dancing by Aleksandre Chumburidze that festivalgoers really enjoyed.

Next came Pacific Curls. The female trio combines Maori, Polynesian, Hawaiian and Celtic music. The line up included: Pacific Islander Kim Halliday (Rotuman/NZ Scottish), Scottish fiddler Sarah Beattie and Maori Ora Barlow (Te Whanau-a-Apanui/English).

Pacific Curls presented a fascinating collection of music from the Pacific using dual ukuleles, Peruvian cajon, Scottish-style fiddle, traditional Maori instruments, and various percussive instruments. The vocals are in Te Reo Maori, Rotuman and English.

Paddy Keenan - Photo by LucyAnne, courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board
Ilgi came next, representing a contemporary vision of the folk traditions of Latvia. The current line-up includes founder Ilga Reizniece on fiddle; Maris Muktupavelsm on bagpipes and kokle; Egons Kronbergs on the guitar; Gatis Gaujenieks on bass; and drummer Vilnis Strods.

After Ilgi, Irish uilleann pipes master Paddy Keenan appeared on Stage 2. The legendary musician gave an stellar performance, demonstrating why he is one of the most influential figures in contemporary Irish folk music. “As a kid I recall my dad saying I don’t have much to give you other than music,” said Keenan during the press conference. “That music has taken me all over the world.”

Paddy Keenan was accompanied by Irish American percussionist Chris Murphy on bodhrán and Irish musician and producer James Riley on guitar and vocals. ” Music is not just technical skills but a mood, a language,” said the Paddy Keenan Trio.

The fabulous music continued to flow with the Warsaw Village Band (Kapeli ze Wsi Warszawa in Polish) , another favorite. Their edgy Polish folk roots music is characterized by the use of multiple primeval female vocals as well as ancient and new instruments. Band members include Magdalena Sobczak Kotnarowska on voice, dulcimer; Sylwia Świątkowska on voice, violin, and the rare płock fiddle; Ewa Wałecka on voice, violin; Piotr Gliński on baraban drum, percussion; Paweł Mazurczak on double bass and Maciej Szajkowski on Polish frame drum, percussion.

Warsaw Village Band - Photo by LucyAnne, courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board
The Warsaw Village Band appeared in 1997 and the musicians have created a genre of music they call ‘hardcore folk’, thanks to the punk-like, yet traditional singing style.

Accordionist Joaquin Diaz took the global sounds to the Caribbean. By this day he was well known to some members of the audience. He had performed at the opening ceremony and was one of the tireless musicians jamming at various places and occasions. He did not disappointment the festivalgoers with his seductive and energetic Afro-Latin Dominican rhythms. His band included seasoned musicians from the Dominican Republic and Panama.

Merengue is 140 years old,” said Diaz at his press conference. “The energy of the music is amazing and it keeps me going non-stop to spread it to others!

The last act of the night was California band Lisa Halley and the Zydecats. Halley, a fiddler, specializes in southern Louisiana roots music. “Every musician here has one thing in common – we are one stage down from traditional roots musicians,” said Halley during her press conference.

Joaquin Diaz - Photo by LucyAnne, courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board

Read the whole Rainforest World Music Festival 2011 series:

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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