Monday, July 10, 2006

Last Week (Montreux, Switzerland)

16 days is a long time for a festival to be running. Can you imagine the production, the staff, the coordination that must take place to keep this thing going?

Only a few of us are at the festival every day for the entire 16 days. And we were here 2 days before! It gets to be a drag being hassled by "security" who have only been there for a few days. Yesterday, a guy in front of the Miles Davis Hall tried to block me from entering. The Gotan Project was sold out, and the hall was getting inundated by "staff" so I understand his concern, but we've been working there for 10 days now, so don't give me a "so, you're working here? (snicker, snicker)"

This year, I've been seeing a lot of the shows, too. Last year, we had a hotel in Lausanne which meant an hour drive each direction but this year, thanks to our producer, we are in a conveniently located 2-bedroom apartment just across the street from the Casino. It's actually quiet nice but decor leaves much to be desired. Especially the bedroom which has what looks like wedding brochure photos, framed, all over the walls. There's one especially ugly poster size photo of a Very Young Groom with a Not So Young Bride. All of them are Completely Tacky. Like the apartment owners bought the frames and left the sample photos in.

No matter. The location is great.

As with all festivals, you are left picking and choosing, hoping you are making the right choice. With 3 main venues all running at once, and one of them about a kilometer away, you pretty much have to stick to your choice, or miss everything.

The other night, I saw Ney Matogrosso. Wow. I had no idea what to expect but I certainly wasn't expecting this! He's a thin, balding singer, with a sequined shirt opened all the way to his waist, dancing like Iggy Pop (or Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs!) and singing in a strange falsetto. After my initial surprise, I really got into it. He is a superb singer and the theatricality suited him very well. Just when you thought his music was all older, more traditional stuff, they launch into something that might have been written by King Crimson. Very cool.

Afterwards, I thought I would go to the Casino to check out Chick Corea's Mozart Project (once again, no idea what kind of show that was going to be) but it was either that or getting some food. Not having eaten all day, we opted for the food and missed Chick.

The next night, I decided to just stay and watch the entire Brasil Night show at the Auditorium, so stayed there for Carlinhos Brown, Margareth Menezes and Gilberto Gil. The place was packed, sweaty and very Bahia-esque!

Last night, I was able to watch most of Santana's Drum Night. He's doing 3 nights at Montreux this year, each with a different theme. Tonight, it's the Blues Night with Taj Mahal, the Neville Brothers, etc. but last night, he had Carlinhos Brown, Ismael Lo, Mory Kante, Angelique Kidjo, Toure Kunda, the Kora Jazz Trio, and Idrissa Diop. The Africa-centric music was absolutely fab! I loved the sound of the kora, a harp-like instrument. I had to leave in the middle of Toure Kunda, though, to check out Gotan Project that everyone recommended.

They're an electro-tango group from France and the Hall was just packed solid. I'm really crowd-phobic but stayed long enough to enjoy this mix-culture band's tango-musette-electronica-disco-leonard cohen-meets-grace jones kind of music, then walked the post-midnight, post-World Cup streets, still filled with weekend partyers, back to The Apartment.

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