After catching the first part of Black Grace‘s peformance which we missed the day before, we came upon the Joseph Tawadros Trio on the same neat little stage we had seen Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill the night before and as then, I was immediately struck by the amazing quality of their musicianship – complex, fast, accurate playing with plenty of give and take.

We took the same viewing spot on the roots of the huge fig tree at the side of the stage, but as the Trio took on a particularly evocative slow piece inspired by a dream about bombings, there was loads of noise pollution from some sort of Eastern European Oompah band on a little bandstage nearby. Very bad planning on someones part. We moved to a better listening spot more directly in front of the main speakers, but it wasnt just for us that the piece was spoiled. Still the guys recovered the mood in good humour (Joe Tawadors had previously made a funny crack about not receiving the Aria award for which his album had been nominated due to concerns about giving Egyptians sharp objects) and were joined by a harpist for an exciting improvised finale.

Next the line up was diminished due to the loss of Cesaria Evora due to illness. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings were her replacement on the main stage but to us sounded like fairly ordinary soul/r&b so we set up camp in a good spot on the small stage to crown off the evening and the weekend in the company of Tenzin Choegyal and four Monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in India.

A fairly high proportion of the music we had heard over the weekend had a consciously spiritual component, so it was a nice touch by the programmers to finish it all of with something in which the spirituality was the primary motivation. So what of the quality of the music? The first piece from the four monks was hard to get a hold of, rather alien to western ears it sounded like an odd collection of sounds not making a great deal of sense together.

Next one of the Monks took a solo spot chanting. This was more inspiring – its still an odd sound, but engaging – the main body of the noise is very deep and raspy, but makes consdierable use of the harmonic overtones above. Imagine something like a benign sounding dalek.

Tenzin Choegyal and Monks of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Tenzin Choegyal is a Tibetan in exile now resident in Australia. He is a secular musician singing in an extraordinarily powerful and affecting voice and playing dranyen (a type of long necked flute) performing in traditional style.

Finally soloist and monkish quartet joined together for a piece and by the end of it all the cumulative effect was considerable – one of the the guys next to us who was giggling at the incongruous sounds they were hearing at the start of the performance sat still for some minutes at the end as if spell-bound by what he’d heard.


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