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2016 Grateful 3

I’m gullible. I can be easily persuaded and often times find myself committing to stuff I really don’t want to do. Take last week, for instance. I had something to do and some place to go on Friday but I let myself be talked into going to a gig on A38 as well … for two reasons. (1) I’d never been and (2) my crush of 2016 was playing.

a38On the night, we ran around like the proverbial blue-arsed flies trying to do all we had to do and still make it to the ship at a reasonable hour. Yes, A38 is a boat, anchored by Petőfi híd, in the Danube.

On stage tbdhat night were the magnificent Braindogs. The collection formed to play a tribute night to Tom Waits back in 2004 and have been doing gigs together every so often ever since, and always on Tom Waits’s birthday. What a line up. London-based Soul-blues singer Ian Siegel (whom Tom Waits seemingly holds in very high regard, ranking him up as one of the best around); the brilliant Ripoff Raskolnikov from Graz (who some say could have been one of the greats worldwide had he had the ambition – now there’s a man who has mastered the meaning of ‘enough’); the ever-so gorgeous and talented Kiss Tibor from the Hungarian band Quimby and a regular with the Budapest Bár; Varga Livius, who also plays with Quimby; the mad pianist Nagy Szabolcs; and of course, my man Frenk, who this time left down his guitar and took up his drumsticks – so talented that man, so talented. It was a great night, despite my misgivings. And to think that I’d nearly cried off and given my ticket away. What I’d have missed!

A little into the gig, the penny dropped. We had tickets to another gig on Sunday night at Muzikum Klub to see a blues guy I’d never heard of (no surprise there, given how musically illiterate I am) – and it turns out that it was the very same Ian Siegel.

1060Word has it that had Siegel been born into a different generation and been gigging in the 60s, we’d be talking about him in the same breath as Van the Man and Joe Cocker. But the 70s were his playground.  Two years after he was asked unexpectedly to sing with this cousin’s band one night (he was a roadie with them at the age of 16) he picked up a guitar.  He was bitten. After  dropping out of art school and busking in Berlin, he started doing the circuit. His was a slow burner. Opening for Bill Wyman in 2003 finally got him the attention he deserved. He toured with Muddy Waters’s son Big Bill Morganfield and finally made it to the states in 2006 after topping the Soul/Blues/Jazz charts in Holland the previous year.

Of all the gigs he’s played, it was his guest appearance with 92-year-old jazz pianist Pinetop Perkins and some of the other remaining members of Muddy Waters’s band at London’s Jazz Café in 2005 that stands out. Later, at a festival in Norway, the boys returned the favour and joined him, unplanned, on stage. That I’d have loved to see.

This week, I’m grateful for the music – again. Last weekend it was Tchaikovsky, Schubert, and Bártok. This weekend it was The Braindogs, and Ian Siegal. You can’t say I’m not doing my homework. I’m grateful, too, that it’s all so affordable, so plentiful, and so much fun.

And, as an early resolution for 2017, I’m going to continue experimenting and call on my music-heads in Budapest (you know who you are) to keep me posted on stuff I might find interesting.

PS Ripoff Raskolnikov plays Muzikum on 22 December and I’m RAGING I’m missing it

 

2016 Grateful 36

Bloody brilliant. That’s it. Can’t think of anything that describes last night any  better than that. Bloody brilliant.

Booking tickets for a gig online is quite the challenge when your Hungarian is a good as mine. I never quite know what I’m getting so I hazard a guess. I booked platinum passes for this weekend’s Get Closer jazz festival figuring they were mid-range price-wise and should be okay.  I was sure we’d be standing by the stage. Instead we were upstairs, second row balcony.

We  went to the wrong venue (my bad) but had plenty of time in hand to find the right one (my good). A first time for me to be in the lovely mOmKult. We were in the first twenty or so to arrive shortly after 6 pm and when the first of four groupsn lined up took to the stage, I was a little dubious about how long I’d last before falling asleep. I’m not all that into improvisation and it seemed to my uneducated ear that the drummer in the Chris Devil Trio was just a tad too into what he was doing and the other two lads weren’t getting a look-in at all. Add that to the rig-out the guitarist was wearing… talk about a distraction! But hey, others were clapping so it was obviously just me.

Second up, after some delay, was Csaba Tóth Bagi and the Balkan Union. The crowd had gotten a little bigger and the atmosphere was starting to warm up.  Csaba was born in Serbia and looks a little Hawaiian. He has a voice that belongs to an old soul. Amazing. Reading up on him, it seems as if the world has been watching him for years. His name is bandied about in the same sentences as the likes of Ennio Morricone, Al Di Meola, and Butch Thomas. An impressive performance and one I’d happily see again, and again. Together, the four lads looked more like a country and western band than a jazz quartet – so much for appearances. Each one of them was as talented as the next. A stunning performance. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for them.

I commented to BF that if the line-up kept improving exponentially, we were in for a treat. We were running about 45 minutes late at this stage. Band No. 3 never appeared. But the place was filling up – still nowhere near full – but filling. It was later still before the headline trio made their appearance, the ones I’d come to see. The GFS Trio.

With Indian Trilok Gurtu on percussion, Italian Paolo Fresu on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Cuban Omar Sosa on piano – it was gobsmackingly brilliant to watch. Gurtu is simply amazing on percussion – what he does with a tin bucket of water defies belief. Fresu, looking like a cross between Ireland’s Eamon Dunphy and Seinfeld’s Cosmo, ties himself into fantastic contortions as he becomes one with his horns. And Sosa takes playing the piano to a whole new level – he had four keyboards in front of him and was playing two together most of the time. They seem to play Budapest every year so next year is already in the diary. 

This gig is the first of what promises to be a summer of gigs. Next up is a broadway celebration on Friday. Then May starts with  Manhattan Transfer at Mupa and ends with the musical Cabaret. June is US jazz great Stacey Kent playing outdoors down on Margit Sziget (Margaret Island). July is VeszprémFest with Lisa Stansfield on Friday and Jamie Cullum on Saturday, both outdoor gigs. Am also hoping we get to see Les Miserables down in Szeged. And then there’s Roisin Murphy and Kodaline playing Sziget on 13 August. I’ve never before been so organised.

After last night’s performance, I’m grateful that Budapest attracts so many good musicians and that their gigs are affordable and often in spectacular settings. R0ll on the summer – this time, I’m ready.