Yes, it was day two of the 2009 Open Ears Festival...and I was there. Sort of.
"Vexed," 16 hours, 840 repetitions, much fun
Remember when I said "I was there" in the first sentence of this post. Forget it. I didn't go to "Vexed"
Why not? I guess because I have a strong aversions to "happenings" of any kind. I'm not the type, and I'm generally not a huge fan of those who are. And even though -- in retrospect -- it looked like there were plenty of innovative ways of making it less than simply "840 repetitions," I still couldn't bring myself to take part in it.
Saturdays are good days for breakfast, underwear shopping, and catastrophic thunder storms. I enjoyed all three.
Not a SINGLE ONE of them actually flew! But I'm getting ahead of myself.
This was held at St. John the Evangelist church. Do you know how many "St. Johns" there are? The taxi driver told me all about them...John the Baptist, John the apostle, John the Evangelist. Neither of us knew who this particular evangelist was...I don't believe he's ever had a TV show.
Anyway, what do you get when you have a concert in a church gymnasium? Tinny sound, unfortunately, The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band sounded best when they were laid-back and quiet. When they pulled out the stops and really started romping around, the gymnasium became their Enemy of Treble Echoes.
Even so they were fantastic. I'm not a klezmer fan by any stretch of the imagination -- I find it awfully repetitive and just a tad goofy -- but the Flying Bulgars set consisted mostly of original compositions, and those compositions were AMAZING: original, complex, beautifully articulate, and sometimes political.
Two downsides, though: these new songs will only be available on their UPCOMING album. And they also played a few klezmer songs, surprisingly. I mean, songs that make me think of "The Chicken Dance." Done in a top-notch way, of course -- the arrangements were, I'm sure, absolutely the best -- but still an awful lot of "mazel tov." Which is a shame because, as evidenced by their original work, they can do SO MUCH MORE.
Flugelhorn. How is it differentiated from "a trumpet?" I'm not sure. David Buchbinder can sure play it. Deviating somewhat from the traditional sound of the set, Buchbinder coaxed his flugelhorn into doing some very unusual tricks, without ever -- EVER -- seeming stupid or gimmicky. And Dave Wall has a voice of unleashed power and beauty. Everybody else was great as well, and if their new album had been available I would have bought it in a second.
Oh yes, and the Evangelists served us alcohol and gave us cheese. That's always a good thing!
I leave you with Dana International. Everything I know about Yiddish* I learned from her, so here she is singing "Yesnan Banot." The Flying Bulgars were not particularly like this.
* As Gary pointed out in the comments, Dana International is singing in HEBREW, not Yiddish. So I guess it really IS true that "everything I know about Yiddish I learned from her," ie. "nothing."