So, at two in the afternoon, Joska, Yura and Ivan lay out the Hutsul lunch spread they have brought with them from home: dark bread, Ukrainian salami, cucumbers, sheep cheese, red pepper ajvar, and home made orda - an unsweetened white sheep cheese eaten in Transylvania that I have never seen elsewhere. And of course a bottle of Ukrainian vodka. What's a light lunch without a few shots of vodka to wash it down? The French may have their wine... the Germans beer... the Hutsuls drink vodka. While staying in Budapest the Técsői Banda stays at the home of our friend Imre Keszthelyi and his family.
Imre has done the folk music show on Tilos Radio for years, and been a part of the dance house scene since its early years in the 1970s. Imre lives in the house on Pal utca in Pest that was made famous by the Ferenc Molnár novel A Pál utcai fiúk (The Boys of Pal Street.)Published in 1906, the story tells of competing groups of children fighting increasingly serious turf wars amidst the court yards and connected warrens of the building. There is even a plaque on the building and groups of tourists show up regularly with no idea that this is not some kind of memorial to Ernő Nemecsek but still a functioning place to live. A lot of the tourists are Danes and Italians: the Boys of Pal Street was adapted to film four times - as "No Greater glory" by American director Frank Borzage in 1934, as I ragazzi della via Paal, by Italian film director Alberto Mondadori and Mario Monicelli in 1935, and by Hungarian director Geza Fábri in 1969.A few years ago the entrance was switched to the Pal street side, and the courtyards are no longer connected, but the place is much the same as it was when Molnar used it as a backdrop. While it looks like a tenement from the outside, the apartments inside are huge. Imre has enough space to be able to offer the guys from the band a room when they are on tour - a rare luxury in crowded Budapest.Tim Meyen was in Budapest on his way to Romania. Tim is an Australian who studied the traditonal music of Hungary and Romania and specializes in cimbalom. Tim specializes in finding players of the small, portable folk cimbalom that he can find, so he had some time to check out the Hutsul tsymbay and its tuning, which is markedly different than the straight Hungarian tuning.Still... you have to be careful with playing in an apartment. Since it was in the middle of the day the guys got out their instruments, but drummer Yura Chernavets chose a less booming perussion option: a chest of drawers.