2019 Grateful 34: Country Music

Heading back from a party in Tát on Sunday, we took the long way home to stop by Zalacsány and the Örvényeshegy piknik. Billed as three days filled with music, theatre, literature, and children’s programmes, we caught the tail end of the proceedings – the Sunday afternoon.

But that was okay because we’d come specifically to hear the band A Kutya Vacsorája. It translates as the dog’s dinner, which in Hungarian means something uncertain, unlike in English where it’s a verifiable mess – as in, you made a right dog’s dinner out of that then!

We had a hard time finding the place. Either the posters in Zalacsány village had already been taken down or none had gone up in the first place. We drove all four roads from the roundabout in the centre before passing what looked like a promising sign to the left as we headed towards Zalasprings. Almost 2km up that road we hit the ticket office and no doubt were the last customers of the day. When we got to the venue, the gardens of the Pálos resort, the place looked like a hangover in the making. It was hot. Very hot for 4 pm. All the duck was gone. Food was limited to kolbász (sausage) and palacsinta (pancakes). There was plenty of beer and wine though, if I hadn’t been feeling the effects of the night before and wasn’t driving.

Some 25 people or so were seated around the smaller of two stages, seemingly enraptured by the storyteller on stage. The craft stalls were disbanding and the hive of activity that no doubt marked the two preceding days had lulled to a slow drag.

The band was due on at 4.30 but time obviously didn’t mean much to anyone that day. We sat waiting patiently with fifty or so others, all of a similar vintage. But it was worth the wait.

They all play with other bands in different genres so the mix they bring to this one is a curious combination of jazz, soul, alternative rock, hip-hop, post-rock, and blues. Singer Varga Livius and drummer Ferenc Gerdesits both play with Quimby. László Varga (bass guitar) plays with Pál Utcai Fiúk and Hiperkarma, the latter also features Kiss Tibi from Quimby. It seems that Hungarian musicians have multiple outlets for their music. Kiss Tibi and Gábor Vastag (guitar) did a road trip across America earlier this year and made a movie of it. The duo bill themselves as Aranyakkord.

 Nemes Zoltán (keyboards) aka Mr Jambalya is another I’ve been meaning to see. Köles István Jr. (percussion) was the one who received the most interesting introduction – he’s gotta be famous,

They seem to be quite the thing. Billed as THE underground band in Hungary, they certainly know what they’re at. [Full concert from 2015 is watchable on YouTube. See for yourselves.] I suspect though, from what I’ve read, that the lyrics and the commentary by yer man Livius is what makes their gigs special. Just another reason to crack on with this language learning and not to let it get the better of me.

We missed the fireworks, we missed the crafts, we missed the roast duck. Next year, we’ll take our picnic blanket and go for the whole day one of the days… just to see what Örvényeshegy piknik is really about. This year, it was a mellow end to a lovely weekend. And I’m grateful for that.

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