Thursday, April 21, 2016

April in Budapest: Mostly Music.

I don't like going out in the winter. Maybe I used to, but not anymore. Since the caribou ceased running through Budapest on their winter migration I no longer leave the house between Halloween and Easter. I like Hungarian traditional music. I like to listen to it, I like to play it, I like when other people play it. I used to attend a dance house someplace in Budapest almost every night. Those days are over. Now I prefer to simply take the elevator downstairs and hear the Erdőfú band play at the Rácskert on Fridays. 

I have to walk all of four minutes - depending on how fast my elevator is that day. Spoiled? Maybe, but the one saving grace of living in the 7th district is the fact that on most nights there is some traditional band playing someplace within ten minutes walk of my flat. Spring has blossomed in Budapest over the last couple of weeks, so I went to the Táncháztalálkozó - the "National Dance House Meeeting" - a few weeks back. 

Citera - zithers - were the first instrument I learned when I was a kid. 
The Táncháztalálkozó is about close to being the Hungarian National Folk Festival. Why it isn't called that is a mystery. There are a lot of festivals around Hungary - particularly in the summer, but the Budapest Spring Festival has been hosting a space for the folk dance movement since the late 1970s, when playing Hungarian traditional village dance music was considered a vaguely suspicious activity for youth. Now - 40 years later - all those one-time youth seem to be grandparents and school principals and the Dance House festival is dominated by school dance groups and less by smelly village bands consisting of old men with battered fiddles and drinking problems. 

Miniature bagpipers.
I've written about the Táncháztalálkozó before, and with fewer village musicians invited to participate in favor of stage and school preforming groups it really doesn't excite me the way it used to, but if you are interested in Hungarian folk life, it is well worth a visit - its all in one place on one weekend. In a huge concrete sports stadium... OK... but it is all in one place. It is also one of the most extensive traditional crafts fairs, and short of traveling to Transylvania, this is where I buy a new straw summer hat every year. It isn't easy to find unfashionable straw hats anymore. I don't want a jaunty Panama or something that looks good on a yacht on the Riviera. I want a straw hat. Something I can wear while harvesting straw

Straw hats for work, not fashion. 
It has taken me years to suppress my acquisitiveness regarding buying folk stuff: textiles, ceramics, instruments. I've loved east European peasant art my whole life and living here is like living like a kid in a candy shop. Fumie magically prevented me from buying a large woven Maramures Romanian wall rug: in my mind I was saying "for a Hundred bucks you could own this amazing unique museum piece, or you could walk away." We walked away. My old flat used to look like the storage room at the Folk Museum: in our new place we opted for plain white walls as an alternative. I've gone cold turkey. (On the other hand, I have to go out today and buy moth spray to preserve the huge cardboard boxes of old peasant weavings that I have - undisplayed - in storage here in the new flat.) 

Tooled belt bags. The Gucci of traditional arts.
As always, the best place to hear music at the festival was out in the bus parking lot - the "folk bar" area where people could light up cigarettes and have a beer. I don't smoke anymore, but I do not know how anybody can expect to host East European music in a non-smoking atmosphere. It can't be done. 

Florin Cordoba from Palatca with Nagy Zsolt jamming in the bar.
The Táncháztalálkozó was barely over when the next concert event popped up - the great Moldavian band Tazlo with special guests Muzsikás at the Eotvos House in the 6th district, a full fifteen minutes walk from my front door. Tazlo is one of the most experienced groups playing in the Moldavian Csángo idiom - they have researched the music, traveled those roads, learned from the old masters. And Muszikás? They have already become old masters themselves.


El Guero said...

You must be mostly crazy.

But, what would I know.

I spend my time traveling between Paris.

As in Texas.

And Odessa.

As in Ukraine.


My friends in Ukraine have never had seafood outside of their little menu.

Can you help me FIND Scallops and Clams? And maybe real lobsters, not rock lobsters?


Wayne "Roy"

zerry ht said...

Hey wonderful tooled belt bags. I am a person who likes to do parties a lot but in winters only. My favourite place for parties is Chicago event venues. I used to go there with my friends and we all enjoy food and dance there.