Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A weekend of fun under the sun - Are we certain?

I awoke on Saturday morning bright and early. The sun was shining and all I could see was big white clouds in the sky. After a little meandering around my neighbourhood, making a number of phone calls and then meeting up with a friend just after noon I decided it was time to go to the office to tidy up some loose ends. But as I emerged from the underground of one of my most frequented locals, I could see a storm a brewing. I got into the the Kyiv metro system just in time and my timing seemed to hold for me. As ascended up toward street level there were all kinds of people who looked like they had just experienced a downpour.

During the few hours I spent in the office the rains came down and when it was time to leave the sun started to come out... My timing had been just right and I headed off to the Krayina Mriy festival which is in its fifth year, to meet up with some friends. Not that we were exactly planning on it, but I knew that I would see people there that I don't see day in and day out.

It wasn't long before I started running into friends of mine, but more important we had gathered to list to some music, and that we did. The two piece duo from Les Karpat (France) put on a great show and a full sound from all but a stand up bass and a guitar. But I was soon to discover that the sound I heard was only due to my physical location. Later on we listened and listened to Karavan Familia (Hungary) and Gypsy (Czech Republic) and Kal from Serbia... Unfortunately the time that the Serbs spent on set up and sound check would have been much more appreciated by the audience had their performance last more than 30 minutes.

The first evening was over and while the performers were good, there was something that was bothering me. It was the poor quality of the sound.

The next day I headed out to the festival under much more pleasant conditions from the start. The sun was shining it was warm and there was a pleasant breeze, just enough to keep things from getting to hot.

On my way into festival ground I stopped in at the Literaturna stena and caught the tail end of some ballads by Eduard Drach, and chatted with producer Serhiy Archipchuk, who encouraged me to stick around that stage for the series of performances. Had I not agreed to meet some friends I would have.

Somehow, Sunday was not as spontaneous for meeting friends as Saturday had been, but it wasn't long before I ran into an old friend Yevhen, and from that point on it was a full day of walking from stage to stage trying to catch the different acts. There was a lot of running around and then we settled in on the main stage where our friend and Kobzar Taras Kompanichenko and Yurko Fedynsky (USA), though now in Kyiv for eight years, were performing. As we approached the front row, Taras was giving the sound man heck for problems with the monitors.

As we wandered up one of the hills to one of the stages we came across Lirnyk Sashko known for his incredible tales which he would weave. Though Sashko was not telling a tale but he was sitting in a small circle with a group of children listening to one, being told by a young boy of about 10 years old. Yevhen said, "They should give the kid a microphone, so we could all here him!" From their we wandered off to the nearest stage where Edmonton's Koubasonics had just started into their rendition of Arkan.

Later on while moving back down the hill we sat with some Yevhen's distant relatives. After a while Yevhen looked at me and said, "What to heck is wrong with the sound!" He had confirmed my feelings of the day before, there was something wrong with the sound. Unless you were in direct line with the speakers there were an awful lot of dead spots.

At about 19:00 I got a phone call from Oleksandr from Drymba da Dzyga in order to meet and talk about the possibility of cooperation. We met about 50 meters away from where Yevhen and I had been sitting. He too noted that the sound just wasn't quite right. I returned to Yevhen and we settled in to eating some varenyky and some shashlyk together with little doses of Khortystia horilka.

Over the course of the evening I met up with other friends and we enjoyed the rest of the evening. About a week earlier I received some photos from a friend of mine from Vancouver, in one of the photos Oleh Skrypka was on crutches. I wrote my friend and asked him what had happened to Oleh. It turns out that during a performance back in May he had done some damage to his ankle, and surgery didn't quite solve his problem. This was confirmed when I saw Skrypka hobble out on stage on crutches.

After a long day, having met many different friends, both old and new, my friend Olha and I wandered away from the festival grounds, we caught a cab and she dropped me off near my place.

I was beat, and rightfully so, Yevhen and I had probably done about 5km running up and down the hills to the different stages. I reflected on the last two days... "Had it not been for the problems with the sound, it would have truly been a weekend of fun under the sun!"

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