Just back from an exciting few days at the Geitebrg Folk Festival outside Oslo. I came across to carry the bags for Lesley who was speaking with Øivind Bratberg on the topic of topic of independence. The first night was conversation between a healthy number of Scottish musicians and Norwegian fans. A couple of stand out points; we don't know much about our own country and Norwegians speak better English in the main. Well, that's my verdict after the cultural 'pub quiz', chaired by a Norwegian and won by a mixed team...which included a Norwegian librarian.
Our humble cabin, along with the members of the band 'As the Crow Flies' was idyllic. Cabins in woods with water, wildlife and unseen neighbours are a staple of Norway's way of living. Second homes like this carry none of the stigma which we might feel. I spent some time walking around the lake and met a young couple laying roof tiles, a cyclist hauling his recycling down to the bins, a lady who giving the garden a goodly hosing down...all had a long history with the area and could remember the huts without electricity and water. Some still had outside toilets. Said with affection in their eyes.
The musical Friday and Saturday were terrific as you would expect. The whole Geiteberg venue is situated on an old farm. The loft acted as storage and stage. The atmosphere was open and rural. In these sorts of settings, the traditional music seems to hang in the air in crisp clear haze. You can read the programme and get the band's names but nothing will prepare you for the experience of hearing a reel across the heat shimmer of a field as you plod up the dusty path to the big barn. Or the shiver of hearing a Gaelic love song in the still warmth of the Norwegian twilight. Or the wry smile of the Ostfolk group as they wind their audience up. In a language you can't understand but a feeling you can share.
It was the weekend of the 'super moon', once every 50 years it comes this close. "We'll never see it again' said a lady on the trampoline. Best photograph it, I thought. While the music swirled about midnight, I stood in the field and snapped away. The bows and breath propelled the notes into the light we'll not see again for 50 years.
The next morning we recorded a podcast with Brian O'hEadhra . It was a gentle affair, trying to relate big notions of musicians and music across borders and boundaries. But then again, we had been at it all weekend, really.