Saturday, August 16, 2008

Brassed Off

Let me 'fess up: I'm not much of a Serbian brass fan.

As my friends know, I prefer my Serbian music from the likes of Presing and Sila and Dirty Cover and the continually impressive downtempo Belgrade Coffee Shop collections.

And you wouldn't catch me dead -- unless there was some journalistic graft involved -- at something as full-on Balkan brass as the annual Guca Festival in Serbia. But regular readers of this blog will no doubt be interested in a terrific article about annual festival celebrating the highs and lows of Serbian folk culture by Slobodan Georgijev on the Balkan Insight blog.

Georgijev captures the -- and I quote -- "Alcohol, barbeque, cabbage in huge earthen pots and people prone to making fools of themselves, shirts with images of war criminals and international stars, fur caps, Chetnik insignia, and cowboy hats" that accompany the festival to small-town Serbia. But he also captures exquisitely the collision of locals with the foreigners who've steadily grown into a gawking and marauding horde as the festival grows more popular:

"There are more foreigners than ever," everyone will tell you in Guca. The majority are from Bosnia and Herzegovina and France, but many came from Australia, Spain, Canada, Britain, and Germany as well. Their reasoning is obvious: this is pure exotica, this kind of indulgence in five-day drinking binge and orgy they do not have the opportunity to have at home. Foreigners have invaded all the hotels and houses in town and neighbourhood, they have occupied the surrounding hills putting up tents everywhere. The main event in the town, before the dark and "going wild" starts in the tents, is at the main square where various bands and orchestras are taking turns, drunken men are climbing the monument probably in an attempt to stick out from the crowd, pouring beer into the sculpture in an attempt to make the bronze trumpeter come to life. Half the people are jumping at the sounds of brass orchestra while the other half is recording it with video and photo cameras.

Which reminds me... Isn't it almost time for the Belgrade Beer Fest? I see Kud Idijoti and Prljavi inspektor Blaža i Kljunovi and Kanda Kodža i Nebojša and Darkwood Dub are on this year's program!

Photo from the Guca festival by PetarM used under a GNU Free Documentation License. Hvala!

1 comment:

Confluence City said...

I love that brass band stuff, so don't forget to tell me about any "journalistic graft" going down.