Are you visitor n° 2000?

I've just noticed that my counter approaches the 2000 mark! Not bad, ey? Especially when you know that this weblog has only been created on 14 March 2004, which is about a month and a half ago. This averages out at 42 visitors a day. Not that I think every single one of those hits entails people actually reading my articles, but nevertheless, if some of them do, I'm already more than satisfied.
So, I'd really like to celebrate the 2000th hit!
What's the plan?
Check the counter. If it happens to display n° 2000, send me an e-mail with your name (or nick), your url (if you have one), some information about yourself, a funny story ... anything will do! You can write in Dutch, English or French (or even Polish!).
What's in it for you?
If you are one of my friends, I'll buy you a drink next time I'll see you!
If you are a fellow blogger (or if you have your own website), I'll present your weblog (or website) on Ad Mortem Festinamus.
If you are a noble stranger without a website, I'll write something about you, based on the information you gave me and, of course, you'll get a big "thank you"!
I look forward to hearing from you!

18:33 | 18:33 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


Arte's broadcast of The Invitation 2004

Thursday 29 April, 23:15
Saturday 1 May, 17:45

Tracks 2004

DAF, Pride and Fall, Nebula H.
Brush up your French a bit and read the announcement of this broadcast on their website:
Donnée pour morte au milieu des années 90, la musique industrielle sévit à nouveau dans les ténèbres de l’underground. Tracks a rencontré quelques-uns de ses représentants (DAF, Pride and Fall, Nebula H.) lors d’une danse macabre géante à Gand.

23:17 | 23:17 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (2) | Commentaren (2) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

20 Miles As The Wolf Runs at Sleuterrock in Oeselgem 24/04

On the 24th of April 2004 I witnessed a world première: the first performance of the Electro band 20 Miles as the Wolf Runs, featuring Anouschka Defraeye and Filip Coussement.
Yes, that's right, you've heard those names before. Anouschka occasionaly writes reviews for Ad Mortem Festinamus. She gave us her impressions on Garmarna and La Paloma Negra.
Filip is the guy who went shopping with Goethes Erben's Oswald Henke in Weba, as you can read in his comment under the review (if you can understand Dutch, that is!).
Instead of me writing a review on their performance, I thought it would be nice if the artists themselves would write about their experience. Coming soon, I hope!
I can already lift the veil a little bit: they managed quite well, given that it was their first live performance! Filip is a real showman, dancing and jumping behind his keyboard. Anouschka has a beautiful voice and only needs to acquire a little more self-confidence.
In short, all they have to do is compose a few extra songs and add a few final strokes and we might come across "20 Miles as the Wolf Runs" at The Invitation next year! ;-)
Here are my pics: 20 Miles as the Wolf Runs photo album

For the beautiful pictures on the official Sleuterrock website, click here.

22:42 | 22:42 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

Anouschka's impressions

Wednesday night, in the middle of celebrating my new job, I got a phone call from Filip : “would I like to perform on Sleuterrock, 2 days later?” In January, we had sent an awful demo to the Sleuterrock guys and as we were not selected, I had totally forgotten about it, until Wednesday night, that is… As I had already planned something on Thursday night, we would only be able to rehearse on Friday night and Saturday morning, which freaked me out, I have to admit. And what freaked me out even more, was Filip’s statement, that we would play that new song, too (i.e. I had written a text the week before and we’d just agreed on which song I would sing it) … So Friday night we rehearsed this new song so much that I woke up in the morning singing the lyrics….


We had to perform at 4.35 p.m. but when we arrived at 3.30 p.m., we heard they were running a little late. No problem, because not all of our friends had arrived yet. In fact, it actually was a bit of a problem to me, as I was so nervous I thought I would faint. At 5.10 p.m. we started sound checking and it turned out that one of the cables did not work. Some minutes later they found a solution, after which we could finally start. Because of this technical problem we lost 5 minutes, which pissed me off as it meant we had to skip one song. Filip was a bit confused about this and made some mistakes in the last song, but if I hadn't made a face, no one would have noticed… sorry Filip !!!!


Even if we didn’t make it into the top 3, I was really pleased: it was our first time and I think we did quite well. I was also very happy to hear that a lot of people liked it and I was even more happy that our friends had listened very carefully and could point out what our weaknesses were.  We’ll surely work at it !!!


So, I hope we will get the chance to perform a lot more as it is the best way to learn and, of course, because it is such an amazing experience to me. … making music is the most wonderful thing there is!!!

21:58 | 21:58 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

Filip's impressions

Tja, ik denk dat Anouschka het meeste al verteld heeft… Ik was tot mijn grote verbazing niet echt zenuwachtig, tot we -2 nummers voor het einde- de mededeling kregen dat we niet alle nummers mochten spelen. Dit bracht me volledig uit mijn concentratie, waardoor ik het laatste nummer “let” (onze “hit”) zowat volledig verknald heb…

Al bij al hebben we heel wat positieve reacties gekregen en dat doet wel deugd.

Hierbij zou ik nog de organisatie van Sleuterrock willen bedanken en de winnaars “Sopha” willen feliciteren. Ze waren gewoon de beste!

21:54 | 21:54 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (1) | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

Feest van de Folk at De Centrale 22/04

The performances of Fluxus and Swap at De Centrale in Ghent in fact only made up a tiny little part of “Feest van de folk”, as this celebration of folk music lasts the whole month of April and is spread over more than 45 locations.


Now back to the concerts of Fluxus and Swap at De Centrale in Ghent on 22 April.

But first, I really need to get something off my chest!

What has got into those organisers of folk events, lately? There have been plenty of great initiatives, but each and every folk event I’ve attended over the past few months turned out to be a seated concert… First there was Garmarna at CC De Stroming, then Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill and Shantalla at Bozar, La Paloma Negra at La Tentation and now “Feest van de folk”, featuring Fluxus and Swap, at De Centrale. All of them involved me sitting on a chair, in a seat or on a bench… Do they not know that folkies usually are itching to take the floor?

Ok now, that really had to come out! Let’s proceed to the reviews and the pictures, shall we?

02:12 | 02:12 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


Over the past few years, Fluxus has established an excellent reputation and now belongs to the top of the Belgian folk scene.

They produce a very particular sound, which they describe as “fluid folk”. I’m not acquainted with the philosophy behind this expression, but I’ve formed my own opinion about its signification. I’m pretty convinced that it has something to do with the diversity of genres they play. Their music flows from traditional folk, via jazz and a few whirlpools of cabaret, to contemporary folk, discharging into cacophonous psychedelic music.

What makes Fluxus stand apart from other folk bands certainly is the use of the saxophone, which is rather uncommon in the world of folk music.

That sax is played by Koen Garriau, who also takes on the role of host, -or should I say jester?- of the evening. The first victim of his jokes was his father, Frank Zappa look-alike Paul Garriau, who plays the hurdy-gurdy and who always looks incredibly “zen” to me.

We seriously suspect drummer Geert Simoen of placing his drums there as a façade to hide the myriad of other instruments he was playing, such as the wooden board, the bongos, the jembe, etc. Drumsticks seemed to be limited to Kentucky Fried Chicken only, as he played the vast majority of instruments, including the cymbals, using nothing but his hands as tools. Meanwhile, bass player Sam Van Ingelgem seemed to have trotted off into a world of his own, happily plucking his strings. That is to say, his body language from time to time did betray some technical difficulties with the sound, which we didn’t really notice. Away to the side, a flurry of activity was going on with Toon Van Mierlo changing instruments like supermodels change clothes on the catwalk. Yet, he seemed to be equally proficient at each one of them, whether it be bagpipes, uillean pipes, thin whistle, flute, etc.

As in a lot of folk bands there’s need for about five men to compensate for one female band member. Fluxus is no different. Here, girl power comes in the guise of Greet Garriau, who plays the accordion and adds her lovely voice to the whole. The least we can say is that Greet plays the accordion with a passion that makes the male part of the audience wish they were that very accordion. She’s always totally immersed in the music.

The show itself wasn’t the best they ever played, but even with its minor flaws, it remained highly enjoyable, the band not taking themselves overly seriously and just enjoying themselves on the stage, which after all is what music is all about, right?

Koen did the best he could to convince everyone to shake off that awfully restraining influence of those benches, but even promising a free keg couldn’t do the trick.

Nor could “Kapitein Zeppos” or “The lion sleeps tonight” remedy that, which proved that it wasn’t their fault! Seated concerts just don’t stimulate us couch potatoes to get out of our seats...

Review by Julie & Björn

View pictures: Fluxus photo album
The official Fluxus website: http://www.fluxusmusic.be

00:48 | 00:48 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |



Swap is a quartet consisting of two Swedish fiddlers, Ola Backstrom and Carina Normansson, and two Britons, accordionist Karen Tweed and guitarist Ian Carr. They bring a wide variation in Swedish and Irish tunes and songs, both traditional and contemporary.

Granted, they might look a little bit peculiar when you see the pictures. When Carina appeared on stage wearing a snow-white outfit and a hair ribbon, an Abba flashback momentarily filled my vision. In fact, the white was so bright that, on my pictures, she often beamed as if she were the Virgin Mary herself! Karen’s black glitter dress, which she wore on top of a pair of black trousers, was also very eye-catching.

However, I can assure you, it was not just their outfit that attracted the audience’s attention. From the very moment their music caught our ears it left us completely speechless. I actually could hear the audience grow silent, when the musicians, being perfectly geared to one another, displayed their musical prowess.

Wearing a big smile that lasted the entire concert, Karen Tweed played the accordion with such virtuosity that during the more up-tempo pieces her fingers became a blur of movement, nevertheless incessantly producing just the right notes at the exact right moment.

Welshman Ian Carr not just accompanied the rest of the quartet on guitar but actually put down the bed of the stream the others are meandering in, using his guitar play both as a melodic and a rhythmic basis. Next up is Ola Backstrom. While not being the most noticeable member of the band, his violin-playing certainly was as delectable as the infectious laughter of his female compatriot, Carina. Next to playing the violin herself, Carina also does the vocal parts. With her warm voice, she sings us mysterious songs about dwarves, woods, and whipped cream, or at least, that’s what I gathered from it as my Swedish is actually limited to “tack sa mycket”.

Next to their great musical expertise, the band members proved to have a great sense of humour too. Especially guitarist Ian turned out to be a first-class funnyman. I expected him to recommend “Piña coladas” at any time, just like Toby Radloff in the movie “American Splendor”.

As you can see, Swap is an excellent live band, which I would strongly recommend.

This is how I like folk performances best: great music spiced up with lots of humour and the artists really enjoying themselves on the stage. And I’m sure many others were sharing my opinion, otherwise they wouldn’t ask the musicians back twice for encores, would they?

11:26 | 11:26 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (1) | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

Visit my Swap photo album: Pictures, slideshow and e-cards 

Visit my Swap photo album: Pictures, slideshow and e-cards


Unfortunately, I didn't find an official Swap website on the net, but here’s a link to the official Karen Tweed website: http://www.karentweed.co.uk/


11:18 | 11:18 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


Shopping with Oswald (Goethes Erben)

How many people are there who can say that they went shopping for a bed with Oswald (Goethes Erben)?
Well, Filip can! If you want to read about their adventures in "Weba", read the comment underneath the review of Goethes Erben. Sorry for the foreigners amongst you, the comment is written in Dutch.

16:41 | 16:41 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


Helder at JH Het Zwaantje on 17/04

On Saturday 17 April, I decided head over heels to go and see the band Helder at JH Het Zwaantje in my home town Sint-Martens-Latem. I had heard a lot about Helder lately, as they supported both Novastar and Flip Kowlier during the last few weeks and played in some of the more important concert halls such as the Vooruit, the Handelsbeurs and the Ancienne Belgique. So it was about time that I checked them out!

They were scheduled at 11 p.m., but when I arrived around that time, Chris Hageland was still on stage, a band that I check out every year at least once during the Gentse Feesten, especially when I feel like singing all-time classics at the top of my voice.

It was not until around midnight that Helder finally got on the stage. First, a number of technical problems had to be dealt with, for singing turned out to be a life-threatening experience. Apparently, there was something wrong with the microphone, resulting in electrical discharges! Fortunately, lead singer Helder found a typical Belgian solution: he simply hung his knitted cap over the microphone.

I find it most difficult to describe the type of music Helder plays. The band itself, describes their music as “stubborn, honest rootspop”, which seems like an apt description to me.

The word “roots” definitely refers to the many “traditional” instruments used. Lead singer and guitar player Helder also plays the mouth organ, dobro, banjo and mandolin. The keyboard player also plays the accordion. The bassist, who, for this occasion, had been replaced by Novastar’s bass player, also plays the contrabass. In other words, versatility abounds!

And then there’s of course the lead singer’s beautiful voice, which is certainly one of the assets of the band.

It was a pity that a part of the audience did not seem ready yet for this rather sophisticated music, since their attention left a lot to be desired. It really is music that requires attentive listening and I’m sure that the more you hear it, the more you’ll like it. One of the high points of the concert certainly was the band’s cover of Christina Aguillera. I must admit that I prefer Helder’s own songs, for I’m not really an R&B adept, but the audience definitely seemed to enjoy this cover. Two enthusiastic girls danced their hearts out and decided to brighten up the concert a bit, by dancing on stage next to the drummer during the next song. I’m pretty sure the drummer could use a beer afterwards! Unfortunately, the concert was coming to an end before we knew it. The last song featured Helder solo on the mandolin.

When the enthusiastic part of the audience called them back, the band returned on stage to play another R&B cover. This time it was TLC’s ‘No scrubs’, or so I was told, for R&B really is a big black hole to me. Anyway, again it was very much appreciated by the audience.

After the performance, host Toki came on stage and apparently he had promised a few people to sing something himself. When he started, Helder jumped back on stage and started drumming, so poor Toki had to keep on singing and before he knew it he was jamming with the whole band! A very nice surprise that was!

Not one, but two new stars are born. The first one definitely as bright as their name suggests, the second one only needing a little bit of polishing…


More pictures? View Slideshow? Send e-card?


Helder’s official website: http://www.heldersite.com

Other projects featuring Helder’s band members:




20:35 | 20:35 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (1) | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


20:33 | 20:33 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


New on this weblog!

I added the following sections:




A few words about myself

13:56 | 13:56 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


Goethes Erben at the Arena Van Vletingen 10/04/04

Writing a review on Goethes Erben’s concert at the Arena Van Vletingen is quite a challenge, but I’m more than willing to take it up, if only out of sheer respect for the performance the band delivered on stage that evening. For Oswald Henke it must be no mean feat to bring the musical play “Schattendenken”, just like it’s no mean feat for a foreign audience to assimilate it. But the fact is, the more the play sinks in, the more its profundity becomes obvious.

The stage was divided into a lower level, reserved for the musicians, and an upper level, where a bed, a chair, a table and a wastebasket made up the setting for the actual play.

It’s a musical play about writership, which denounces the fact that people do not really care about art and the creative process that precedes it, but merely consume it noncommittally.
Oswald Henke plays the role of a writer who becomes conscious of this artistic exploitation. Refusing to continue his writing and even refusing to go to sleep for fear of being forced to write down his dreams, he becomes gradually more trapped within himself. Two key moments in the play certainly are the desecration of a member of the public by shaving her head, and, of course, the writer’s collapse. This might sound very dark and sombre, but the play is also interspersed with beautiful dreams and fantasies, like for example the story about a swan who gives away one of its wings to an angel who can no longer fly. And there’s the cutest song in which Oswald states that he wants to be a butterfly. Another recurrent theme is the taste of jasmine tea: “Wer weiss noch wie Jasmin Tee schmeckt?”.

One thing’s for sure, jasmine tea usually is easier to digest than this play, but that doesn’t imply that I liked it any less! It’s at moments like these that I find it a great shame that my knowledge of German is rather limited. A lot of the subtleties were lost on me, but thanks to the powerful images used, I managed to keep track of the story (or at least a story…). If the texts are even half as powerful as the images used –and I’m pretty sure they are– I really should consider taking up German language classes!

There only will be ten performances of Schattendenken and as most of them are scheduled in Germany, I’m really happy to have been able to witness this masterpiece in Belgium.

Later on, a live DVD and a bonus cd of Schattendenken will be released and Goethes Erben will also produce a real film on the subject. So, there’s plenty to look forward to!

More pictures? View Slideshow? Send e-card?

Goethes Erben official website: http://www.goetheserben.de

14:29 | 14:29 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (13) | Commentaren (13) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

The Beautiful Disease 10/04

The ideal appetiser for Goethes Erben

The Beautiful Disease official website: http://www.beautifuldisease.de

14:28 | 14:28 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


NEW: Send E-cards!!

How to proceed?
1. Open a photo album either by clicking a link under the section "Pics & e-cards" or by clicking "More pictures? View Slideshow? Send e-card?".
2. In the left frame, click the thumbnail of the picture that you want to send.
3. In the right frame, click the link "Digital Card".
4. Fill in the form.
5. Send your card!

10:09 | 10:09 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


La Paloma Negra at "La Tentation" 07/04

Flanders’ renowned folk band Kadril and the traditional Galician band Alumea have joined forces to come up with a compelling Flemish/Galician show. The project is called La Paloma Negra (literally: “the black pigeon”) and refers to a Flemish “inn” in Santiago de Compostela where pilgrims sought diversion in traditional Flemish and Galician music and dancing.

I must admit that I am not really into Galician music… At least, that’s what I thought until I heard the first notes of the concert. La Paloma Negra succeeds in bringing the perfect balance between Flemish and Galician music, cheerful and subdued songs, singing and dancing…

I’ve never seen so many people on such a small stage: I think I counted a total of 17 singers and musicians and 2 dancers. During the first part of the concert, the Galician girls wore traditional costumes, which seemed very hot and uncomfortable, but which were beautiful to look at. After the break, they had exchanged their traditional outfit for more contemporary black and red clothes. Being the colour of passion and spirit, red certainly befits them: they can even make black look bright! On the other hand, how could a bunch of warm-blooded girls, who are making music using shells and tambourines and crying out in their high-pitched voices not look colourful?

During the second part of the show, the Spanish girls really amazed the audience by singing the beautiful song “Rozemarijn” in Dutch. Eva De Roovere, on her turn, sang, only accompanied by Dirk Verhegge on the guitar, the passionate Spanish song “La Paloma Negra”. Since I don’t know any Spanish, I can’t say whether her pronunciation of the Spanish language was correct, but if it wasn’t, she certainly succeeded in fooling me!

At the very end of the concert the cunning Galician girls had something else in store for us: they had the audience standing up and snap their fingers and before we knew it we all were dancing with them. If only this had been a standing concert, I’m sure we would have been dancing right from the start!

20:32 | 20:32 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (1) | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

La Paloma Negra: review by Anouschka

La Paloma Negra is the result of the creative cooperation between Ghent-based folk band Kadril and the Galician band Alumea (origin of the band name: a Flemish inn in Santiago de Compostela). I had already seen Kadril two times before and Alumea once when they performed in “Het Huis der Verborgen Muziekjes” by Het Muziek LOD. As both bands pleased me very much, I was immediately interested when I heard about La Paloma Negra. I didn’t get the chance to go to the La Paloma Negra concert in the Handelsbeurs in Ghent, so when I heard they played at La Tentation, I didn’t hesitate. Moreover, I had heard a lot about La Tentation and its beautiful interior, so I couldn’t wait to see it with my very own eyes. And indeed, beautiful it was! With all the wood and rough brick walls, it quite fitted my taste!

Due to the fact that we had to wait for our food for such an incredibly painstaking I-got-sore-in-mi-bum long time (La Tentation has a restaurant, too), we missed the first ten minutes of the concert (we could hear it, but we couldn’t see it). When I saw the stage, I wondered how on earth seventeen people would ever fit on such a small surface, but – miracle, miracle – they did! And they even managed to squeeze in two more dancers during the show!

The concert consisted of two parts, which were symbolised by the outfits of Alumea. In the first part they wore traditional clothing and in the second part ‘normal’ clothes in black and red. This gave a very special touch to the evening. Throughout the concert, a kind of transgression could be felt: it started all calm and quiet on stage but they moved towards a very festive, fiery mood that also affected the audience: it wasn’t hard to start dancing! Moreover, Alumea and Kadril seemed to get on really well and particularly in the second part, the Alumea girls clearly had lots of fun.

In both parts, Kadril as well as Alumea played some songs on their own, but there were also many occasions when the two bands joined forces. There was a nice mixture as to the language as well: Eva sang a beautiful song in Spanish (aptly named “la Paloma Negra”), while Alumea assisted in a Dutch song. One of the last songs of the evening even began in Dutch to end in Spanish…

I thought the concert was a very, very good one: Eva and the Alumea girls all sang with a strong, stable voice; the use of the tambourines was quite impressive (it was more than just giving the instrument a couple of rhythmic slaps), the sound was good, there was a good balance between slow and festive songs and the musicians seemed really nice ánd skilled. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the Galician dancers: they surely added some extra punch to the concert.

Around midnight, the concert was over and we went home in a very cheerful mood. I was really pleased I’d attended the concert and I certainly want to see them again!

20:31 | 20:31 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

More pictures? View Slideshow? Send e-card?"

More pictures? View Slideshow? Send e-card?"

20:31 | 20:31 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |


Double concert Martin Hayes/Dennis Cahill and Shantalla

This will be my first “official” folk review. I already wrote a little something about the concert of the Swedish folk band Garmarna in Sleidinge, but that doesn’t really count, since I missed most of the concert by being fashionably late. Therefore, I took all necessary precautions and arrived fashionably early this time (as you can tell by the empty seats on the picture, but don't worry, there was a full house only moments later!).
The concert took place in “la salle Henry Le Boeuf”, the luxurious venue with beautiful acoustics in which the famous Queen Elizabeth contest is held each year. At first, being seated in an opera-like environment in order to watch a folk concert seemed very awkward to me. When I think of folk music, I think of pubs, beer, dancing and people shouting out from time to time. Of course I didn’t really care about the lack of beer, that’s more something for the male half of the audience to worry about, but being deprived of a space where you can actually dance, preoccupied me a lot. I can already tell you that my fear turned out to be groundless...

21:38 | 21:38 | Julie | Julie | | | Permalink | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |  Facebook | |

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill

A huge empty stage with only two chairs and a couple of microphones was all Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill needed in order to keep the audience under their spell during the whole set. Martin proved to be a fiddle virtuoso, and it was quite impressive to see how Dennis supported him on his acoustic guitar. When Martin started playing his fiddle, he played it for a quarter of an hour on end, moving on from one tune to another. The fieriness with which he tapped the rhythm with his foot was touching and funny at the same time. I couldn’t help wondering how long he would be able to keep that up before having a cramp, but he didn’t seem to have any trouble with it.

I really don’t understand why people often have a low opinion of folk music. People listening to jazz or to classical music, are either regarded as intellectuals or very trendy people. People listening to folk music, however, are most often regarded as unfashionable vegetarians wearing goat’s wool socks. Now, when I hear a musician playing a classical violin, I can be very impressed, but when I hear someone playing jigs and reels on a fiddle, I find that even more impressive, if only because of the punishing pace of this kind of music!

Only a few times did Martin stop playing in order to have a nice little chat with the audience, which was visibly amazed and enchanted by the duo’s compelling performance. During one of these conversations he taught us something: the Irish live in a state of eternal melancholy alternated with short periods of joy. Luckily for us, their set was not really a reflection of this universal truth, for they mainly played joyful tunes, from time to time alternated by a sad one.

What struck me most during this concert was the way in which Martin and Dennis are geared to one another. Dennis watched his companion closely in order to be fully able to support him, which gave the concert a very intimate touch. So it was no surprise that, in the end, the audience once again treated the musicians to a very enthusiastic round of applause and asked them back on stage for a couple of encores. Before that, Dennis had already treated the audience to a "Mercy bowcou". You're very welcome Dennis, "Mercy bowcou" to you too!

More pictures? View Slideshow? Send e-card?

More info: http://www.martinhayes.com


Since I had already seen Shantalla perform twice before, I knew I could expect a band with an excellent live reputation, an ever so cheerful Helen Flaherty and four jovial musicians gladly willing to throw a party.

They certainly didn’t fail to live up to my expectations. Although the people forcedly had to stay glued to their seats, the band succeeded in capturing the audience right from the start. Just like Martin and Dennis did during the first part of the evening, they alternated cheerful up-tempo tunes and breathtaking melancholic songs. One of Shantalla’s great strengths is undoubtedly Helen’s voice, which is even more beautiful “live” than on CD!


Being deprived of showing their appreciation by dancing, people tried to communicate their approval by clapping along with the music, which did not appear to be all that easy. Sometimes the people at the back seemed to be located in another time zone: they completely clapped out of time. Could that be because the sound took so long to travel to the front? Or were they maybe clapping quicker than sonic speed? I wouldn’t know, but fortunately, the accordion player offered a helping hand in order to get the audience back in tune.

As a matter of fact, the way in which the band members interact with the audience certainly turns each of their concerts into something very special. When they are chatting to the audience, they really make you feel like you have been invited at their homes for Sunday afternoon tea! Yet, I did have my objections when Helen said something about sitting back and relax in “those comfortable seats”, for, during the break, I had seen many a man leaving those same seats in a completely wretched manner for lack of leg space!


One of the high points of the evening certainly was the sing-along moment “dadidoodledey dada dodeeda”, correct me if I’m wrong! The audience definitely impressed me (and the band!) with their singing talent, but, unfortunately, the end of the concert drew nearer. After a deafening applause, Helen came back on stage and sang, unaccompanied, a beautiful song called “John Anderson”. If that didn’t give you any goose bumps, you should probably go see a doctor. After that, the other band members joined her and it was party time again. They made a few more jesting remarks, such as “don’t forget, if you drink and drive tonight, be sure you have a car”. And to believe that there are people who wonder why I love folk music... I think it was on the tones of “The Rocky Road to Cashel” that we had to leave in order to catch our train.

Apparently, the concert has been recorded by VRT for broadcast in June, so I’ll certainly keep an eye open to see whether they played more encores after we left!

More pictures? View Slideshow? Send e-card?"


If you’d like to see Shantalla perform in Belgium, you’ll get plenty of opportunities:

Jul 10  Buggenhout

Jul 27  De Bolle plein, Heist (21h00)

Jul 30  Arlon (with Urban Trad!)

Aug 1  Brecht (to be confirmed)

Aug 21  Euritmix Festival, Brussels (18h30)

Sept 24  Dilbeek CC
More info: http://www.shantalla.com


Moreover, Helen Flaherty will also perform at the Celtic Festival Faílte in Gijzegem (Aalst) on 30 April.

More info on Helen Flaherty: http://www.helenflaherty.be
More info on accordion player Gerry Murray: http://www.gerrymurray.com

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